Dame Stephanie Shirley: The rise of robots and seven more HR challenges

Dame Stephanie Shirley has warned that automation of the workplace is one of the biggest issues to face HR professionals.
Delivering her keynote speech at the HR Directors Business Summit, she suggested that robot workers could potentially become the responsibility of the HRD.
“When robots in the workplace look like humans and perform like humans, perhaps even better than humans, will they become the responsibility of the HR director?”

Dame Stephanie noted that automation had affected many manual vocations and that it was now moving into traditional office jobs.
“Robots will soon be in use throughout the workplace – think also of driverless cars, drones, computers writing articles and filling in tax returns,” she continued.
“In Chicago training people with autism on interview techniques is already done by a virtual HR staff member, which can give instant feedback about people’s response.”

Download the full HRD Connect interview with Dame Stephanie Shirley


Decade of change

Speaking exclusively to HRD Connect after her speech, she added: “My own charities are using automation to provide security for people, to check on people’s health, in order to replace a lot of the minute by minute care with automation.
“In the workforce, very few jobs are safe. Lawyers, doctors, all those jobs are going to change in the next 10 years and I think HR really needs to consider that and bear it in mind.”

Another key concern for the future of HR was finding people with the right skills to fill vacancies.
“In the UK there are nearly twice as many new jobs coming on to the market as people coming in to serve them.
Many organisations have to actively recruit outside their national boundaries because getting the right staff in place at the right time, keeping an agile workforce, is comparable to the just in time manufacturing that businesses had to cope with a generation back.

Further key HR concerns raised by Dame Stephanie were:

  • More use of third party consultants
  • More litigation
  • Auto-enrolment into workplace pensions in Britain
  • Migrant labour
  • Compliance with laws from Brussels
  • More international working and addressing terrorism by managing expectations


Watch the exclusive HRD Connect video interview with Dame Stephanie Shirley

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