The great disruptor: Adding a human touch to AI in HR

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  • Date posted

    Aug 22, 2023

  • Estimated reading time

    4 minutes

The great disruptor: Adding a human touch to AI in HR

Artificial intelligence stands to disrupt much of everyday life for businesses and consumers alike. With all these advancements, how do companies keep the “human” part of human resources intact?

When it comes to AI in the workplace, many employees now have access to powerful tools to help them perform their duties. This even allows them to automate and optimize entire operations.

There is no denying that AI can be a powerful tool. It can streamline HR processes and bolster efforts in recruiting, hiring, onboarding, employee success, and professional development.

But as HR processes become increasingly automated, it's important to purposefully retain the human touch along various touchpoints and experiences.

Useful or disruptive? The impact of AI on HR

AI is a broad term describing a wide range of technologies. HR teams may use AI tools to analyze applicant information, track candidates, identify talent, create employee educational materials, and more.

AI insights can also change how organizations approach employee success, inform new metrics, and enable data-driven decision-making. In short, the impact of AI on HR is extensive. The catch? AI is not perfect.

Not only can AI systems make errors, but AI may also carry additional risks, including the potential for bias. As we automate more systems, we cannot forget the importance of human involvement and decision-making in human resources.

When (and when not) to use AI for HR tasks

Many HR teams and professionals are grappling with the same question: When is it appropriate to use AI for HR tasks? Can you use it to draft an email? What about generating internal policy guidelines?

When it comes to new technology, it can be confusing to determine exactly when they are appropriate to use or rely on. Especially in the case of something as novel and innovative as AI. Some regulators, ethics experts, and even sociologists are still scrambling to understand this new tech.

It's important to be intentional about choosing which tasks you will automate or complete manually. If you're not sure how to proceed, consider the following as a starting point.

When in doubt, do it yourself

It's not always clear if using AI for a specific situation is appropriate. However, it is helpful to remember that, until recently, generative AI did not exist. That means the risks of not using AI tend to be minimal.

Ask yourself if the risk outweighs the reward. For example, if you are working on a confidential or internal policy, the risks of getting it wrong far outweigh the risks of working on it the old-fashioned way. AI is a great brainstorming tool, or a helpful place to start, but always apply a critical eye to the work.

On the flip side, AI tools can be great resources for streamlining repetitive or lower-stakes work. This allows HR professionals to free up their time for more critical, personal, or high-value tasks.

Consider if you need personalization or empathy

Humans need other humans. One of the most valuable skills for any professional—but especially HR professionals—is empathy. And no matter how intelligent the system, traits like understanding and empathetic reasoning are better left to human judgment.

Delicate situations like performance evaluations and employee grievances require the nuanced understanding and emotional intelligence that only human HR professionals can provide.

Taking a more personal approach to these types of tasks is essential for creating more psychological safety at work. Failing to prioritize empathetic communication can lead to a lack of safety and comfort within your team, ultimately resulting in disengagement and eroded trust. It's important to know your employees as individuals and tailor your communications around their unique needs. AI tools cannot replace the power of genuine human connection.

Avoid sharing confidential information

Many AI tools cannot guarantee data security. It can be risky to share private or sensitive information in a conversation with any online platform. There is always a possibility of data breaches or unauthorized access, so it is important to exercise caution.

Experts like Emily Killham, Director of Research and Insights at Perceptyx, stress the need for caution when it comes to AI in human resources. Here is what she had to say in a recent SHRM article:

Having a clear policy in place about trade secrets, personal information and GenAI will be important so that no one inadvertently causes a data privacy issue.

It’s also important to ask questions like: What happens to my data once it enters this system? How can an AI tool use my data? Is it kept confidential? All of these are key factors to consider before using AI for HR projects.

What does this mean for your use of AI in HR?

As the world embraces rapidly advancing technologies, it is important to ensure that HR does not lose that vital human touch. When in doubt, default to human oversight and remember that anything AI generates should be reviewed by an actual person.

Balancing AI's efficiency and human interactions is important for creating an HR environment that maximizes technology and relationships.

Ready to dive into the "human" side of human resources? Discover the power of people-first, empathetic leadership in our next blog.

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