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How HR Can Plan for Digital Transformation

HRO Today

24th May 2019

In today’s technology-driven economy, HR can’t afford to fall behind in getting their workforce prepared for digital transformation. In fact, many leading businesses have made this their priority, but as artificial intelligence tools and automated programs infiltrate the workplace we need professionals that are comfortable in working with and deploying tasks to machines.

However, despite the growing understanding that humans must work alongside machines to achieve maximum productivity, previous research by Alexander Mann Solutions found that just 23 percent of senior HR professionals believe that we are preparing the next generation of workers for the rise of AI. Although, in the same study, the majority agreed that more needs to be done, including increasing adaptability to change, enhancing creative skills and improving IT and technical skills in preparation of digital transformation—and HR must lead the way.

The only problem, though, is that human resource teams and tech are as opposite as Mars and Venus. By nature, HR professionals are often extroverted and people-centric, whereas tech experts are generally comfortable alone and dealing with data. To achieve a successful digital transformation within the workplace, we must bridge this gap. But how?

Getting comfortable

The wide-spread fear that ‘robots are coming for our jobs’ must first be abolished. There has to be confidence and positivity regarding the collaboration with tech. I believe this fear has been created by personifying technology, such as ‘Alexa.’ People misunderstand this as being equivalent to a person, but it’s not—it’s just code that does something, which is only a part of what a human does. We need to move the dial to asking how we can enhance our people and, in turn, the job they deliver. With humans and machines working together, we are able to achieve greater efficiency and productivity.

Knowing the capabilities    

In its most recent analysis, HRO Today has revealed that in the first quarter of 2019 alone, there were 68 major announcements recorded around advancing technologies to support HR, of which 21 were product related. Obviously, these developments are beneficial when it comes to improving many process-orientated activities, but it’s important to note that as more of these technologies emerge, the need for people won’t be eradicated completely. Human touch points are still crucial for a positive candidate experience, particularly in circumstances where an apology is needed. For example, in recruitment, robots already do the vast majority of interview scheduling behind the scenes. It’s only when last-minute cancellations crop up or there’s an emergency that human interaction is required.

Speaking the language

To begin making a change and effectively prepare their team for digital transformation, HR must be able to have a cohesive dialogue with tech professionals. This, of course, may require learning an entirely new ‘language’ that needs to be ingrained into the very culture of your people strategy—but that’s certainly no easy task. Lots of practice and co-operation is required with the tech team, as it is crucial that HR has a comprehensive understanding and can act as a role model for other employees.

Nurturing human skills

While it is important to learn new skills associated with, and integral to, the digital world, it is also crucial to hold on to the vital skills that separate humans from robots. For example, creativity and empathy are some of the many qualities that can’t be recreated by machines, and it is important to strengthen these abilities in employees alongside any digital investment. Also, while technology assists us in our jobs, it is crucial to not lose the ability to do it ourselves as well. A recruiter can scan a CV in seven seconds and see if a person is fit for the job. This takes years of learning, trial and error, and knowledge of company cultures—this ability must be protected. Employers that adopt agile workforces, develop their own talent pools and foster a continuous learning environment will be the most likely to complete a successful digital transformation project,  however, by following these tips, HR will be much better positioned to prepare and plan for future success


This is an excerpt from the ‘Human Resources New Technology Quarterly Summary: Q1 2019.’ Click to read the full report.

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