Many aspects of many industries are being automated - something which has led people in wildly differing professions wondering if they will still have a job in a few years time. From the rise in autonomous container ships which threaten to change seafarer jobs to farming, in which robots can be used to perform manual tasks such as planting, weeding, watering and fertilizing crops, and even milking livestock.
So where does that leave Human Resources? Surely, by its very definition HR needs to remain, well, human?
Is your Human Resources job at risk due to the rise in HR technology?
Indeed it’s hard to imagine the HR department becoming completely automated and run by robots, but it is undeniable that the use of technology in office-based workplaces is on the rise.
For example, research from the UK-based Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that:
“Around 1.5 million jobs in England are at high risk of some of their duties and tasks being automated in the future.”
And the nature of some of these jobs might surprise you:
- Waiting tables - i.e. waiters and waitresses / servers
- Customer service and call centers (the rise of the chatbot!)
- Shelf stackers in stores and supermarkets
- Basic sales jobs
So if administrative and production type jobs are the most likely victims of the technology takeover, it does mean that those working in those fields must be prepared to retrain or re-skill so that they can find work elsewhere.
However it’s not all doom and gloom for just as many jobs that could be lost through automation, there will be new jobs created. Take our maritime example at the beginning of this post: Yes, self-driving and autonomous ships will mean there is far less need for seamen and women to physically be onboard a vessel, resulting in a loss of seafarer jobs, but new jobs will be created as people will be needed to control these ships from the shore.
Will jobs in Human Resources change too?
On the plus side, businesses will always need a human being to create, implement and adapt policies, strategies and best practices. Employment laws, for example, are an ever evolving beast and an automated system will not be equipped to cope with any changes these may bring.
On the other hand, a McKinsey Global Institute report found that a third of the tasks that employees currently perform will be able to be automated in the not too distant future. However, approximately only 5% of jobs can be automated in their entirety.
The good news, therefore, is that jobs in HR aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. However, they could change considerably.
If we consider that the tasks that are ripe for automation are physical (wait staff and shelf stackers) and repetitive office based tasks (customer helplines, call centers, data processing) then it makes sense that HR departments used to dealing with people, will now also be required to deal with the big data that these automated tasks produce.
HR technology will be used to analyze and use this data, as well as the data produced during processes such as recruiting and hiring. That means that anyone working in Human Resources will need to learn how to work with data and systems to implement and drive strategic business decisions.
What is HR technology?
When we think of tech and automation, we tend to think of robots and Artificial Intelligence. And while some companies are using A.I. to conduct their initial interview stages and filter the first round of candidates, this is not likely to affect the average small to medium-sized business for quite some time.
If you work for an organization that is on the smaller end of the scale, it is more likely that HR technology will be implemented in your business in the form of a HRIS - a Human Resources Information System.
A HRIS is a software solution that centralizes certain aspects of Human Resources. They contain your employee database, make hiring and onboarding more efficient, and enable you to manage time off more easily. They also act as a portal where staff can log in to access company information, download forms, check their holiday allowance, and request vacation or sick days.
Human Resource Information Systems are ideal for small startups who may not have a dedicated HR manager yet, as well as for organizations that have grown to the point that they are struggling to cope with the myriad of tasks the department is faced with in regards to its people.
HR tech can also affect the way employees view your company
Much has been made of the millennial worker’s love of technology and if you’re of an older demographic, we know you might be rolling your eyes right now! But the fact is, millennials make up the majority of the workforce and they, and their younger counterparts Generation Z, expect companies to be utilizing tech.
And that extends from the way they search for jobs (you need to be mobile friendly to be competitive in the job market) to the application process, to the way they work once you’ve employed them.
Millennials are notorious for job hopping and have few qualms about leaving a company if it’s not aligning with their ideals, or not operating how they think it should. And if you’re not harnessing the power of technology, you can expect fewer candidates and disengaged employees.
All of this is suffice to say that you shouldn’t shy away from using technology in your HR department. Tech is meant to empower and enable you, not replace you as a professional Human Resources person.
Is your Human Resources job at risk due to the rise in HR tech? Conclusion
Yes, technology is changing the way we work - but generally speaking for the better. Your company still needs you - and will continue to do so. But you also need technology if you want to stay on top of your workload and continue to make your organization an employer of choice when it comes to attracting candidates, and retaining existing employees.