AI’s Impact on Leadership in Human Resource
October 1, 2023

Navigating the world of leadership in human resource management today feels a bit like exploring a new galaxy – vast, mysterious, and filled with infinite possibilities. Just as Galileo once peered through a telescope, uncovering the secrets of the universe, today’s HR leaders are gazing into the digital realm, seeking to harness the transformative power of AI.


Current Landscape

Diving into the digital veins of today’s businesses, one would find Artificial Intelligence pulsating through the core functions of HR, especially in pivotal sectors such as financial services, manufacturing, and call centres. The age of cold, impersonal robots isn’t here (and hopefully never will be), but the imprints of AI’s sophisticated algorithms are clearly visible.

In call centers, for instance, we might not have C-3PO managing the lines, but AI-powered chatbots are making a monumental shift in the user experience, by streamlining queries and delivering solutions at light speed. On the flip side, financial services, a domain once deemed a stronghold of traditional practices, is undergoing a digital metamorphosis. AI tools, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), are automating mundane tasks like data entry and compliance reporting, ensuring higher accuracy and efficiency. Then there are Virtual Assistants or Conversational Interfaces. They are the new reception desks, guiding users, answering questions, and even assisting in intricate HR tasks. Thanks to advancements in natural language processing, these virtual entities provide real-time, human-like interactions, enhancing customer service tenfold.

Machine learning, a subfield of AI, are advancing at a similar pace. Such algorithms are like the seasoned employees who’ve learned from years of data, improving their performance with each new piece of information. In financial services, for example, machine learning aids in critical functions like fraud detection and risk management.

Not only is AI changing the roles and responsibilities within organisation, but also the way in which HR conduct that all important hiring and firing. Textio leverages machine learning to polish the language of job descriptions and performance reviews, acting as a virtual editor, ensuring that biases are minimized and the language is inclusive. myInterview can be viewed as the casting director of the HR world, using video analytics and AI to evaluate candidates, ensuring a fit that’s more than just about what’s on the resume.

AI has been used to transform employees onboarding experience with Talla, a virtual onboarding buddy, optimising the entire procedure of integrating a new hire – a process that all HR leaders know is crucial to retention. ServiceNow acts as the digital HR front desk, addressing employee queries more efficiently and Seberr is like the team coach every company wishes they had, enhancing collaboration through combining behavioural science insights with AI.

Essentially, the current landscape is clear: AI, with its myriad tools and applications, is not just an auxiliary function; it’s becoming the backbone of modern HR, redefining its every function including the culture itself, but that’s a conversation for another day. Click here to find out more about how AI is influencing organisational culture.

But it’s not all roses. As AI finds its footing in HR, there are many challenges facing even the most successful leaders within HR. But first, let’s look at what strategic transformations AI has brought about in HR.


Transformations to Leadership in Human Resources

Imagine HR as a grand orchestra. In earlier days, the symphony was directed by intuition, experience, and gut feeling. Today, AI stands as the new conductor, wielding a baton of data and insights. AI has transformed HR in three main ways. Firstly through changing the way, HR personnel make decisions, which will be demonstrated through the financial/professional services industry data-driven recruitment strategies. Secondly, by adopting the roles and responsibilities of individuals within the organisation, highlighted by the significant changes to job roles in manufacturing. Finally, AI has revolutionised the way training and development are delivered, relying upon call centre L&D to illustrate this point.


Data-Driven Recruitment 

Navigating the tortuous corridors of recruitment, regardless of industry, is no mean feat. In sectors like financial and professional services, where the quality of the talent almost directly correlates to the quality of the service, there are notoriously rigorous hiring standards.

Often these sectors are viewed by candidates like fortresses that only the best can breach. AI is the new oracle in this scenario. By scanning myriad parameters such as project trajectories, job transitions, and even digital footprints in the social realm, AI can almost foretell a candidate’s potential success in a specific role. And the best part? When executed well, it diminishes inherent human biases, ensuring a recruitment that celebrates diversity and true merit.

Regarding, pre-hire analytics, AI can facilitate HR teams identify and select the best candidates taking into account skills, personality and fit, aiding to reduce bias and improve diversity in hiring decisions. For example, Deloitte developed a pre-hire analytics model that used 12 internal and external data sources to predict employee success on the job.

Not only has AI influenced hiring decisions, but also be used to pre-empt employee turnover. Through an intricate analysis of factors that range from job satisfaction to career progression, AI can sense the inklings of attrition. IBM, for instance, has harnessed AI to not only predict potential exits but also to proactively intervene. The results? A staggering 95% accuracy in attrition prediction, leading to a windfall saving of $300 million for the company.


Transforming Roles & Responsibilities of Employees

Step onto the manufacturing floor, and you’re in the heart of an efficiency-driven universe. Beyond the hum of machines and clatter of tools, there’s now the quiet whir of AI. From identifying operational bottlenecks to foreseeing machinery maintenance schedules, AI is the new overseer. Many HR teams have used AI to harmonise the dance between humans and machines, ensuring that tasks are allocated optimally, and burnout remains a word of the past.

Within manufacturing, the adoption of AI-powered technology has gone some way to change the role and responsibilities of employees. For example, autonomy in industrial control systems through AI equips machines to execute precision-based or hazardous tasks, as seen with Microsoft AI’s solutions, reducing the risk to staff. Additionally, AI’s capability in forecasting raw material prices aids manufacturers in navigating the erratic nature of raw material costs, potentially saving up to 5% as indicated by AIMultiple. Finally, generative design empowers designers by automatically churning out numerous design possibilities, enhancing the creative process, optimising performance and reducing waste.


Workforce Upskilling

Call centres, often the first line of customer interaction, are not just about handling queries anymore. With AI in the mix, they’re evolving into hubs of enhanced human capability. By diving deep into oceans of call data, AI fishes out patterns—common grievances, frequently asked questions, or even nuances in customer sentiment. The result? Training modules that are laser-focused on real issues, transforming agents into experts, adept at offering solutions even before a customer articulates a problem.

AI conversion simulation uses natural language processing to craft realistic voice and chat scenarios for training. It helps trainees hone communication and problem-solving skills by interacting with virtual customers, giving them feedback for improvement. An instance is the call simulator which integrates with leading call centre systems. Additionally, AI coaching and mentoring analyses agent-customer interactions to offer tailored feedback, as well as, pinpointing the most effective strategies of top-performing agents. Cogito, for example, monitors vocal cues and guides agents with real-time visual suggestions. Finally, knowledge management systems help organisations to efficiently manage the knowledge base, ensuring agents swiftly access pertinent information to assist customers. Guru stands out as a software that integrates this technology, providing agents with contextually appropriate responses from said knowledge base.



The Future for Leaders in Human Resources

As the proverbial curtains rise on the future, HR leaders find themselves navigating a high-tech Broadway, where AI takes centre stage. In this unfolding drama, the plot twists are intriguing. Gartner’s forecast suggests generative AI will be crafting everything, from job descriptions to policies so let’s take a look at the trends facing HR and how AI can maximise such opportunities.


The Internal Talent Marketplace Revolution

Think of AI as the astute matchmaker in this realm. Like a seasoned concierge at a grand hotel, AI is here to usher employees to opportunities that fit just right, ensuring the stay (read: tenure) is delightful. This is a key way in which organisations can increase their average tenure, reducing overall recruitment costs and the associated risks. By increasing the fluidity of the organisation’s internal job market, both employees and recruiters alike can maximise the opportunities available internally.


The Hybrid Work Symphony

The post-pandemic era sees HR leaders as skilled composers, blending notes of remote and in-office work to craft the perfect hybrid harmony. AI can help HR leaders adapt to the changing needs and preferences of the workforce, enabling flexible and remote work arrangements, whilst ensuring collaboration is maintained across locations, teams and working styles.

This will become increasingly important within multi-national corporations as AI will enable more effective information sharing by creating summaries, transcripts and action items for meetings. It could also enable more sensitive work to be done remotely by ensuring security by detecting and preventing cyberattacks, protecting sensitive data and enforcing compliance and ethical standards.


Gig Economy

The already well-documented rise in the gig economy is only rising meaning HR will soon need to embrace the diversity of talent and skills that gig workers can offer, and create policies and practices that support their well-being, development, and retention. HR will also need to balance the needs of gig workers with those of permanent employees and ensure fair and consistent treatment for all.


Green Technologies

Many of the organisations leading the charge on environmental sustainability have already started including their employee’s impact on the planet within their metrics e.g. PwC. This trend is likely to continue and AI can facilitate knowledge allowing HR to more easily direct employees on how to reduce their footprint. For example, AI can help monitor and reduce emissions from employee travel, commuting, and office operations by optimising travel routes or enabling remote work and collaboration. Additionally, AI can help promote a culture of environmental awareness by providing data-driven insights, nudges and incentives, measuring and rewarding employees for their green behaviours, such as reducing waste, saving energy or volunteering for environmental causes.


In the ever-changing chessboard of the business realm, leaders in human resources must master four crucial moves: Agility, darting nimbly through volatility; Data Literacy, weaving narratives from threads of data; Innovation, not just thinking outside the box but reinventing it; and Storytelling, where the pen proves mightier than the spreadsheet.

To survive and thrive, leaders in human resource should be as adept at navigating change as they are at spinning yarns about their successes. Because, after all, what’s HR without a few good tales up its sleeve?

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