HomeFuture of WorkAIAI in HR: Principles for harmonious adoption that enhances, not replaces, human capabilities

AI in HR: Principles for harmonious adoption that enhances, not replaces, human capabilities

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Adam Hickman, Ph.D., Vice President of Learning, Org Development, and Cast Members at Partners a Walt Disney Company, completes his two-part study of AI in HR by providing principles for AI adoption based on his conversations with CHROs, CLOs, and CEOs.

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AI in HR is here to stay, but how leaders view AI software – either as a tool or a partner – will make organizations succeed or fail.

As Harvard Business Professor Karim Lakhani said on a recent podcast, “I would say that most companies will not have a choice but to adopt AI and adopt digital at the core functions. In many ways, your personal lives are mediated through your transactions, through your smartphone, through these devices, and how you interact with consumer technology products: you are already living in an AI age.”

The race to figure out which AI machine to plug into which process or even position will not stop. The misleading bias that AI can do everything humans can do does not help this struggle. As the Wall Street Journal reported, “CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees after the Facebook parent’s latest round of layoffs that many jobs aren’t coming back because new technologies will allow the company to operate more efficiently.”

So where does HR fit into the AI equation? The answer is easy: Everywhere a human should be.

Three principles for AI in HR

After speaking with several HR, L&D, and organization leaders in the first piece of this two-part analysis, and drawing on my own experience, I believe HR leaders must keep in mind the following three principles to determine where they are in the race for AI and how best to enter the track.

Principle #1: Knowing your all-stars are humans, never bots

Every leader I engaged with on AI in HR conveyed, be it overtly or subtly, the unspoken dynamics of performance within the organization.

One prominent sentiment was that individual contributors have indispensable value in any organizational setup. Contrary to popular belief, the star performers in these structures don’t necessarily need proficiency in technical skills, like coding.

Instead, they crave thoughtful coaching, guidance, and personal development. The essence of their success lies in their talents and the environment in which they operate. It is paramount for leaders to truly understand and adapt to each person’s unique working style. This personalized approach is not a luxury but a necessity, as it directly correlates with an employee’s level of engagement.

And as many leaders would attest, engagement is the cornerstone of exceptional performance. An engaged individual is not just working for a paycheck but is invested, passionate, and intrinsically motivated to drive results.

Principle #2: Use AI to remove administrative friction

The realm of administration, characterized by time-consuming, repetitive tasks, massive data processing, quick decision-making, and the potential for human error, appears ripe for the integration of AI.

The integration of AI can streamline these processes, minimizing errors and speeding up tasks like data entry, scheduling, and reporting. And it can manage these routine jobs without breaks, vacations, or fatigue, increasing efficiency and consistency.

One of the standout features of AI is its ability to learn and adapt. As it interacts with more data and scenarios, it fine-tunes its responses, ensuring its administrative solutions always evolve and improve. Using it in administration pieces is an easy win and a logical place to start testing the value of AI in processes.

Principle #3: Have an AI strategy anchored in core values

During the series of interviews I conducted, the significance of an organization’s values in AI strategy constantly emerged.

Humans intrinsically craft and nurture these values. They serve as the bedrock for grounding any technological advance, including artificial intelligence. It is evident that while it is rapidly advancing and embedding itself into business, there are junctures along the employee journey that technology cannot perform.

These moments or decisions necessitate the unique attributes of human insight, empathy, and intuition. The leaders I spoke with unanimously concurred with this notion. They emphasized the importance of balancing AI’s capabilities and preserving the indispensable human touch in organizational processes.

The passenger, not the driver

HR Leaders let us leverage AI to champion the strengths, talents, and values that make us uniquely human and, in doing so, craft a future where machines and humankind coexist, cooperate, and co-thrive.

As such, the adoption of AI is not merely about keeping pace with technology but discerning its intersection with human essence. For organizations to truly thrive in this digital age, it is not enough to plug it into their operations. It is imperative to thread AI capabilities into the organization’s fabric while ensuring it complements and does not overshadow the irreplaceable human elements. By recognizing and valuing the nuances, insights, and emotions that only humans can bring, organizations can create an environment where it enhances, not replaces.

Just remember this as you embrace the impact of AI: keep AI as the passenger and not the driver.

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