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The future of HR, an opportunity and a challenge

Technology is having a big impact on the workplace, changing jobs, culture and ways of working. Yet our recent research with the CIPD on artificial intelligence (AI) and careers revealed only 55 per cent of organisations consult HR when investing in AI or automation. And only 45 per cent of HR departments were involved in its implementation.

This is worrying as AI and automation transform the employee experience. Our research showed 60 per cent of employees saw a decrease in monotonous tasks and 41 per cent reported more control over working hours following the implementation of AI or automation. This highlights the opportunity to use technology to improve jobs – to release the human aspects of our work that make it more positive.

Seizing this opportunity will need HR and IT to work together to design a strategic workforce plan that puts the human at its centre.

Find out why HR is the key to unlocking the transformational benefits of AI and automation

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Plan for the right employee experience

Designing the future experience end-to-end, and adapting the organisational infrastructure to deliver it, lets organisations address disruptive forces like the gig economy, aging population and technology.

So, HR professionals should work with IT to map the future employee experience alongside the capabilities and roles needed to run an AI-enabled business. That means identifying what technology is best at delivering to remove barriers to performance, fill skills gaps and create more positive roles for humans.

HR departments that start to lead their future workforce operation and design will be ahead of the curve. Conversely, if HR doesn’t start to lead the debate and the balance of technological and human resources shift, it could find its own performance outside of its control.

Five steps to seizing the opportunity

Based on our experience of working with HR departments across industries and continents, we’ve found five practical steps to planning a positive future employee experience:

  1. Identify a frequently-used employee journey that receives poor feedback, such as recruitment, induction or career planning.
  2. Run a workshop with a group of employees who have recently experienced that journey, ensuring they all went through the same process. Rank the experience of each step of the journey and identify what makes them good, bad or neutral.
  3. Map the future experience as the employees would like it to be and identify the changes that will have the biggest impact – where could automation improve it? What blockers can be removed?
  4. Work with IT to quantify the investment needed to make changes vs the potential gains in productivity and cost.
  5. Create a business case and plans to implement.

While this process looks simple on paper, it can have a profound effect on the employee experience, especially when repeated across different journeys. The key is to take the time to listen to employees before collaborating with IT to drive holistic change.

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