Is Automation the End of "Human" Resources?


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Monday, December 10, 2018

Automation aims to make lives easier but is it destroying the human element of HR? We're going to look at the relationship between HR and automation, how this powers HR and what this means for the future.

Article 3 Minutes
Is Automation the End of "Human" Resources?

Human resources has traditionally been at the center of the relationship between employer and their workforce. But as organizations face increasing pressure to be as efficient as possible, will automation destroy this role?

The relationship between HR and automation

In Deloitte's Future of Human Resources 2030 report, the company acknowledges that the days of HR as we know it "may be numbered". However, this doesn't necessarily mean the role of these professionals is being destroyed, more evolved.

The report outlines a number of different scenarios where automation has either a low or high impact on the workplace and - more specifically - human resources.

"In the end, what they all have in common is that the implications of each scenario depend to a large extent on how people perceive and experience their environment." - Deloitte report

Deloitte's research suggested that, as many would predict, higher automation levels of HR processes led to increased performance but the impact of a good relationship between employers and employees was of "little value on its own".

Its neurological study found that high achievers were more likely to be drawn to personalized HR solutions and rejected excessive automation. However, professionals might prefer automated processes where career progression was concerned if it meant they weren't being judged on the personal relationships they had with colleagues and/or HR teams.

So where does this leave "human" resources?

Human capital management and HR

Human capital management strategies encourage businesses to treat their workforce as an asset. For many, it represents the future of HR as it allows companies to view their employees in the same way as they view any other element of business. Like sales processes or onboarding clients, finding the ways to make how employees work as efficient as possible can have significant benefits on the wider organization.

Of course, with individuals - and their needs and motivations - the actual implementation of measures to optimize personnel is much more complicated - and risky - than when applying changes to company processes. However, the core principles behind identifying what areas can be improved and how to remove barriers to efficiency are the same. It helps business-minded C-level executives understand the needs and priorities of HR by regarding the workforce as an investment, rather than a commodity.

The future of automation in HR

Deloitte's research suggests that whatever scenario becomes reality, how HR decides to implement HR technology will have a big impact on how employees feel about their employer. Automating certain elements of a human capital management allows HR professionals to invest more time in the actions that demand a personal touch.

Finding out what is important to employees is the most important step towards devising a HR strategy that makes the most of automation, without jeopardizing the relationship between employer and employee. It may be that, as highlighted by Deloitte, professionals desire the impartiality that comes with certain automated development processes but would be disappointed if they were to lose other elements of HR to 'robots'.

Human capital management requires companies to view employees as a long-term investment, applying the same level of care and consideration from recruitment to retirement and everything in between. Taking this approach ensures that employers see workforce management in a holistic manner.

Doing research into your specific workforce needs will ensure you're not wasting time or money, allowing HR to deliver impressive results from the start. Devising a strategy in this manner enables human resources to maintain its humanity, while benefiting from the efficiency gains facilitated by automation.

HR Insights for Professionals

Insights for Professionals provide free access to the latest thought leadership from global brands. We deliver subscriber value by creating and gathering specialist content for senior professionals.


Join the conversation...