Human resources (HR) as a function, is going through significant changes in the last decade thanks to the evolution of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) that are reshaping the way companies recruit, retain and engage with their workforce. Shaakun Khanna, Head of Human Capital Management Applications, Asia Pacific, Oracle Corporation explains how AI-ML is challenging HR roles, creating newer opportunities as well as changing the future of work.
Khanna identifies certain key trends that are creating big challenges (and in the process big opportunities) for HR as a function. “Firstly, the dependency of CEOs on HR is increasing. The board is realizing the strategic impact of HR in business, an area where technology has a vital role to play. This has added greater responsibility to the HR role and function,” he says.
Another challenge is that the traditional HR technologies have not enabled the HR function adequately on the parameters of real time information, intelligent information sharing, informs Khanna, adding that HR continues to be a reactive function instead of playing a proactive role in most organizations.
Finally, another pressing problem is how HR can navigate the business disruptions on one side and the change in the social, emotional fabric of the workforce on the other side. Here is a big paradox. With changing business model and more disruption whereby fundamental construct of people is changing, HR is striving to be in the center of it trying to mitigate both the situations – creating greater complexity for itself, believes Khanna.
AI is the future of work
To counter these challenges and more, AI tools are technologies are changing the way HR professionals work and more importantly the nature of the workplace.
Talking about the future of work, Khanna says, “Work or the workplace as a concept is disappearing. Gone are the days when people have their dedicated office desks and are working really hard for their living. Automation and AI intervention is also changing a lot at the workplace and subsequently the way HR functions.”
Khanna believes in the days to come human intervention will completely disappear for mundane and repetitive jobs. While there is always a fear automated processes will steal jobs away, Khanna argues this can never be the case. Instead AI will make HR department and in turn the workforce more efficient and agile.
A study from Oracle found that 79 percent of HR leaders and 60 percent of employees believe a failure to adopt AI will have negative consequences on their own careers and overall organization. In other words, employees who adopt AI will thrive, while those do not will be left behind.
He gives the example of transcribing meetings – a cumbersome process – which needs to be automated, or recruiters reviewing every application. To save time, automated prescreen surveys can be sent to applicants and based on the scores most qualified applicants move on to the candidate stage for review by the hiring manager. Also, admin tasks such as answering calls, responding to emails and updating spreadsheets can also be automated to save time and boost efficiency.
Employee engagement is another area which remains a big challenge for organizations. Research from Gallup shows that nearly 70 percent of employees are not engaged at work. AI automated tools can be helpful to analyze employee feedback and increase engagement.
According to Khanna, “With India facing a skills shortage, Oracle HCM is helping HR managers and headhunters can further tap into this ‘invisible talent pool’. The integration of AI-ML helps companies identify this talent gap, key requirements of the organization versus the expectations of the employee, a huge missing link in today’s workplace.”
He also points out that majority of the organizations do not have a real time view of what exactly is the talent profile of people within their organization. The solutions are helping in identifying talent within their organization before they seek that opportunity outside.
The concept of virtual working, virtual offices, virtual teams, is on the rise, mandating organizations to come up with technologies with more advanced features and applications to facilitate that setup.
AI-ML is the future of work and will continue to have a significant impact on the workplace. If combined with human capabilities, would bring on more intelligent HR solutions, sums up Khanna.