HR is far from unique as a sector in being subject to technological disruption. However, the opportunities and challenges new technology presents to HR professionals is unique.
A lot of the discussion around new technology focuses on the potential doomsday effects of artificial intelligence and automation, on human jobs. The reality is that there are much wider, smaller, evolutionary changes which will have just as much impact as AI.
For example, incremental technological advancements mean that employees can now truly work anywhere, at any time. While this creates new pressures on HR professionals to develop flexible working policies which work for all parties, it also provides them with the opportunity to shape an organisation’s future working practices.
We’re already seeing how the advent of new tools is enhancing HR departments’ performance and efficiency. This can be through development of current technology, such as online self-service software, or developing areas, including the use of AI in recruitment. Added to this, the expanding availability of data is already allowing HR teams to tailor the employee experience by analysing what works and what doesn’t.
Be ready for change
As always, new technology is only as good as the people using it. The future of work is increasingly a combination of humans and machines working together. This puts an imperative on organisations to not only invest in new technology, but the people working alongside it.
This includes those working in HR. The evolution of the sector is set to require HR teams to combine new attributes with the interpersonal skills more commonly associated with the profession.
Strategic thinking, adaptability to fast-paced change, technical knowledge and even the ability to interpret and act upon data, are all skills that HR teams will need in future. It’s up to both individual professionals and their managers to prepare for this new reality.
Digital literacy may not be a traditional HR skill, however, professionals must focus on improving their digital understanding to futureproof HR departments and enable them to take full advantage of the array of tools which they will have at their fingertips.
What will technology’s impact be?
A recent survey of 200 senior HR professionals by Reed HR found that only 10% believed new technology was having the biggest impact on the industry.
While these numbers were skewed by ongoing Brexit uncertainty (which was ranked top at 24%), technology stands to be part of the solution to challenges those surveyed rated as ahead of it: workplace culture, candidate shortages, skills gaps and employee benefits.
Rather than try and skim through the key technological impacts on HR in one blog, over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be taking a deep dive into each one. I’m hoping these in-depth look will help prepare you for imminent technological change and maximise your opportunities to create a first class HR function.