The subject of AI and its impact on the HR function is a topic that creeps up daily during my conversations with senior HR leaders and it’s clear that opinion is divided.

The rapid growth of AI utilisation within organisations, often with little understanding of how best to leverage its benefits, has left many feeling sceptical of its future role within the workplace – is AI our friend or foe?

I have always considered myself to be reasonably “tech-minded”, having worked on numerous system implementations throughout my career and picking up systems quickly. However, I have to admit that I have been somewhat sceptical and a slow adopter of AI. On the one hand, I am extremely interested in any technology that can help streamline processes and save time in an otherwise frenetic life. On the other hand, my role as a Search Partner at Tucker Stone is all about relationships, and the human and face-to-face interactions are so important.

In one of my recent conversations with a CPO for a global technology business, we discussed how much value AI has added to their role. However, our recent Tucker Stone Survey highlighted that 54% of HR professionals are not using AI within their day to day role, with only 22% planning to implement AI into HR processes.

It seems that perhaps the HR function has been slower to adopt AI than other functions, and maybe this is because they are not involved in AI-related decisions, but with such divided opinion, it’s made me question further – how can HR professionals use AI to their advantage and what value can AI bring to the HR function?

In my curiosity (a trait that AI can never take away from us), I decided to put AI to the test by asking ChatGPT: “In what ways can HR Leaders harness AI’s potential to drive positive change within their organisations?”
These were some of the suggestions:

1. Improved Talent Acquisition. This seems obvious – AI-powered tools can quickly and efficiently scan through thousands of resumes, identify top candidates and even predict their likelihood of success within an organisation. This clearly saves TA teams a significant amount of time but, does it also improve the quality of hires? Does this mean that TA teams can now focus on building relationships with candidates (the human side) and developing strategic talent acquisition plans for the future?

2. Data-Driven Decision-Making. Perhaps an area where AI is used most commonly – providing HR Leaders with access to a wealth of data and insights and advanced analytic tools that can analyse employee data to identify trends, turnover patterns etc enabling HR Leaders to make more informed decisions.

3. Personalised Employee Experience. AI-driven HR systems (including Chatbots and virtual assistants) can provide quick answers to common HR questions and AI algorithms can suggest tailored learning and development opportunities based on employee’s career goals and performance. This suggests that these personalised experiences enhance employee engagement, ultimately improving retention rates.

4. Diversity and Inclusion. Can AI really help HR Leaders address diversity and inclusion challenges? Any tool that eliminates bias from a recruitment process can only be positive and ensure that hiring decisions are based solely on qualifications and skills. AI powered tools can also help identify areas where diversity and inclusion efforts need improvement, which must in turn enable HR Leaders to take proactive steps toward creating more inclusive cultures.

5. Automation of Routine Tasks. Routine HR tasks such as payroll processing, benefits administration, and compliance management can be automated with AI. This allows HR Leaders to redirect their time and energy towards more strategic activities such as talent development, employee engagement and workplace culture.

Overall, AI’s answer gave some interesting, if not ground-breaking ideas, much of which I’m sure many HR functions are already exploring. There seems to be no doubt that AI can improve efficiency, automating repetitive tasks to enable HR professionals to focus on creating strategies and adding value; it can also improve decision making with valuable insights through HR analytics. In reality though, how likely is it that HR functions will be able to use AI to hire and fire employees, as well as perform more complex tasks like answering HR-related employee queries and communicating salary details?

Although there has been significant progress in AI technology in recent years, there are still limitations – AI on its own cannot give the complete picture. It’s therefore more important than ever for HR professionals to dive deeper into what their data means, in order to interpret accurately.

For AI to add real value, HR Leaders will need to really buy into and adapt to the changing landscape of AI, acquiring new skills along the way, so they feel enabled to make more informed decisions regarding AI adoption. HR Leaders must also consider the ethical implications, ensuring that AI-driven decisions are fair and unbiased.
It’s clear that AI is here to stay and absolutely serves a purpose in helping HR functions and I certainly intend to use AI more regularly in my role. It is, however, a reassuring truth that AI can never replace traits such as curiosity, humility and emotional intelligence – the “human” in Human Resources.

Beth Miller
Search Partner