Artificial intelligence and HR: is a mindset shift needed?

Press Releases

14 Nov 2018

HR must undergo a mindset shift in order to reap the benefits from artificial intelligence (AI), according to an expert white paper. In preparing organisations for the potential gains from AI whilst minimising its risks, HR needs to become more proactive in engaging with change to secure a strategic role.

Published by the Institute or Employment Studies (IES), the paper details risks involved in the use of AI, such as the perpetuation of unconscious bias in recruitment selection decisions, as shown in recent issues faced by Amazon.

The author, Peter Reilly, highlights how HR teams have historically been slow to take full advantage of technological change. HR must now embrace both the further automation of administrative tasks and adapt to the ‘service now’ climate which will quickly develop. Senior leaders will expect nothing less, according to the paper.

To date, HR has also struggled to take up the strategic baton of leading people-related change. With the AI revolution, the paper’s author, Peter Reilly, states that HR should play a critical role in the reskilling of their organisations: developing learning cultures; encouraging knowledge exchange rather than hoarding; and creating flatter hierarchies without silos and restrictions to innovative thinking.

AI will, however, provide HR with access to richer data and the means to analyse them better. This should inform better internal policymaking, moving away from decisions based on ‘manager gut feeling’, towards evidence-based management.

Operational HR (recruitment, remuneration, training, performance management, etc.) should also become more efficient and effective with the prudent use of AI, but the paper details the risks involved. Beyond recruitment processes, AI may also further de-humanise employee contact processes and fail to protect confidentiality in data manipulation. A successful tech-savvy HR will identify these risks and take steps to mitigate them.

Peter Reilly, lead author and IES principal associate, said:

‘AI offers HR a great opportunity to become more efficient in discharging its basic functions, but also offers the chance to shape the organisation of the future. HR might miss the bus unless it identifies the organisational destination and the best means to get there.’

Interviews and further comment

Peter Reilly, author of the paper and IES principal associate, is available for interviews. Contact Mark Jack, IES Communications Officer:
+44(0)1273 763 435