HR departments perform important functions for any corporate body.
They’ve always dealt with time-consuming tasks involving payroll and taxation — first with reams of paperwork and later using digital devices.
In some organisations their remit expanded to monitoring staff welfare and mediating in low-level disputes between management and workers.
But technological advances and evolving business cultures mean that large HR departments stuffed with human staff are fast becoming obsolete.
With that in mind, here are three ways HR is evolving to remain relevant.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The HR of the future is likely to rely heavily on AI technology.
So Virtual Reality (VR) assistants using voice-recognition tech like Amazon’s Alexa will be able to welcome workers back to work after periods of ill health and update their records within seconds.
And they’ll provide accurate responses to staff questions about tax codes, employee benefits and pension contributions.
But AI can also cope with far more demanding tasks like hiring the best candidates according to complex recruitment criteria or collecting information on staff health and wellbeing.
Human HR employees will still be required — but they’ll need to sharpen their strategic skills and emotional intelligence to differentiate themselves from machines.
Staff members rely on being paid accurately and on time — demands are unlikely to alter significantly in the future.
So accurate payroll systems that are tax compliant in each operational territory are essential for any business and operating them efficiently still takes too much time for many HR departments.
But outsourced HR software has become sophisticated enough to automate tasks like talent management, workforce management and analytics as well as payroll.
This means that firms of all sizes can cut back on HR overheads and employ a smaller team of human HR experts who are free to concentrate on more specialist tasks that machines can’t perform as effectively.
This type of service can be especially beneficial for startup firms looking who want to save cash while taking care of HR fundamentals.
With machines performing administrative tasks, hiring staff and organising payroll faster and more accurately than human staff, the future might look bleak for flesh and blood HR professionals.
But one area where we might still excel is using our superior soft skills to embed transparent office cultures.
Transparency throughout the organisational hierarchy makes for more informed and effective decision-making because it increases trust and taps into collective intelligence.
So skilled and empathic HR employees attuned to values-based behaviour and the needs of staff will play an important role in maintaining an environment where staff flourish and productivity improves.
These more specialised roles might best suit recruits from the ranks of behavioural science and organisational psychology — who have the expertise to analyse the rich data gathered from automated HR systems to constantly adjust and improve the collective psychological climate.
These three ways HR is evolving to remain relevant prove that humans will have to rapidly adapt their skillsets to secure job roles as automation advances.
Is your HR department embracing AI? Share your thoughts in the comments section.