‘Why I think artificial intelligence will be the turning point for HR’

Ann Chambers outlines the challenges and looks forward to the opportunities of AI in the people function

Credit: Kevin Lines Photography

As a self-confessed technophobe, it can feel quite overwhelming to think about the future workplace given the ever-changing advancements in technology, with AI leading the charge.

There is a need to be nimble to adapt to the current environment, while continuing to build on a positive workplace culture.

Human resources has always been a people-centric career choice. But the more we understand about evolving technologies and how they can help to revolutionise employee experiences, the more we can understand what human skills and traits will be most valuable in the future.

There are many factors that can affect the way a role could be transformed in the future: from budgets to internal capabilities and general global affairs. The rollout of automated systems between industries and companies will vary greatly. Across these areas, AI will have a crucial role in shaping how we recruit and nurture talent in the future. And I believe this is where it will be the biggest benefit both in HR and the wider working environment.

Identifying traits versus skills

We pride ourselves on how our dedicated team shares company-wide values at Ecotone. This means that we value both the core skills needed for specific roles and the personality traits that fit with this ethos equally.

Larger corporations are already using chatbots that identify keywords in CVs as a screening process; a function that will continue to evolve as AI develops. For me, recruitment is so much more than spotting keywords linked to skillsets. I look at the flow of the roles the person’s had and whether their experiences demonstrate flexibility and a path towards their chosen career. 

Resilience and adaptability are two key personality traits that stand out to me and will continue to be desirable in an increasingly digital and fast-paced world. The question is whether AI will become more sophisticated to also focus on personality, or whether systems could be tailored to fit with company culture.

Giving back time

It is often said that the greatest gift you can give someone is your time and that rings true in a managerial setting. With more time, we can all work more holistically. Increased automation could result in the following benefits, helping our teams to thrive:

  • Managers having the ability to be more creative with how they work in their teams and invest more into staff development
  • Reduced workloads for all, with AI taking on more admin-heavy work
  • Extra time invested back into people
  • HR professionals freed up to work more closely within core teams
  • Energy funnelled back into career paths

Keeping the human touch

One core benefit of using AI in candidate selection would be to remove any unconscious bias. AI can be totally impartial and tools already exist that identify gender bias. But what if within doing this it strips out the personality of the applicant? Then we’ll struggle to know if the person is the right fit for our organisation. It’s all about finding the right balance.

In the food industry, there are some areas where automation simply doesn’t work. Our senses and human intuition cannot be replicated in a machine. For example, AI could never taste test new products. But there are touchpoints in many areas across the business where it can have a role, such as in production, supply and finance. 

I believe AI could be the turning point for HR. Ultimately, by taking away more mundane tasks, AI might allow people the time and freedom to enhance personal development and make HR more visible and accessible. A result could be lower attrition rates and increased team retention by selecting the right applicants from the recruitment stage, and then having the capacity to give them the wellness and career support they need to succeed.

There will be some sought-after skills, from leadership to cultural and social intelligence, that will remain human. And people power and bringing your full personality to work will continue to shape the future of the industry.

Ann Chambers is an experienced HR director

Explore the CIPD's resources on the use and impact of AI technology in the workplace here