top of page

Keeping the Human in HR: Why AI Can't Replace People Ops

With the rise of ChatGPT, Bard, and about a million other artificial intelligence tools promising to make our lives easier (and a little scarier), a common question I'm seeing around the webs is: Will AI take my job?

If you're an inferior robot, maybe. But people and culture professionals are exactly the opposite of that: the magic, secret sauce that keeps a place running, that you can't really quantify or sum up with data.

Even Google tried to nail down what makes high-performing teams tick, and the #1 thing they came up with was that high-performing teams feel psychologically safe; to share ideas, make mistakes, go the distance, go live, make good decisions, take risks... When people don't feel paranoid about their job certainty, they are more likely to go above and beyond in innovation.

Guess who ensures psychological safety? People. Managers, mainly. And the people who support those managers; ie, people ops.

Five more reasons your HR job is safe from AI

  1. Empathy: We've Got the Feels. AI might be "smart", but it can't beat us when it comes to empathy. As HR professionals, we understand that employees are more than just numbers on a spreadsheet. We listen, we support, and we genuinely care about their well-being. We're the cheerleaders, the problem-solvers, and the shoulders to lean on. AI just can't replicate that warm and validating feeling, and it can't replicate the way a human can read the energy in a room.

  2. Personal Touch: Humans Need Humans. When it comes to sensitive matters, there's no substitute for a good old human-to-human conversation. We know that employees value face-to-face interactions, a reassuring smile, or a comforting pat on the back. AI may try to mimic our words, but it can't replicate the personal touch that creates trust and builds relationships.

  3. Flexibility: We Roll with the Punches. Change is the only constant in the workplace, and HR professionals are the masters of adaptation. We can navigate tricky situations, handle unexpected challenges, and think on our feet. AI might be quick, but it can't match our flexibility and creativity in finding innovative solutions tailored to the unique needs of each employee.

  4. Humor: Laughter Solves So Much. Who says HR has to be all serious. Can AI make better HR dad jokes than we can?? It's literally our job to organize fun activities after all. AI might have its algorithms, but it's light-years away from understanding the power of a good laugh.

  5. Human Judgment: The Status Quo Needs Questioning. While AI excels at crunching data, it struggles to make complex decisions that require human judgment. We can weigh multiple factors, consider different perspectives, and make decisions that balance the needs of the employees and the organization. We bring that touch of humanity to HR that AI just can't replicate.

Where even... is AI?

We're out here asking the questions so no one else has to. AI is built into software products, and with the potential of these tools to increase productivity in ways we don't even know yet, we're likely to not even know sometimes when we're using AI. Most likely, you're already using a tool that has some kind of artificial or machine learning component to it – Ie. it can make decisions based on a set of variables. So how can you use it to make your life easier?

Whether we like it or not, AI is here to stay. If your instinct is to dig in your heels, instead get informed so you can be on the forefront of this trend. Understand how you can use it to make your job easier and your culture even better, and you'll never have to worry about a robot taking your job.

Research shows that HR's usage of AI is set to grow in the coming years. According to the "IDC’s Future of Work 2022 research predicted that this year, 60 percent of global 2000 businesses will deploy AI and machine learning (ML) tools to support the entire employee life cycle experience."

Remember that AI is only as smart as the product using it. Any data-driven machine may show or exacerbate biases in key processes like identifying low performers or filtering candidates (some of my best employees never graduated college).

How to use AI to do your HR job better

  1. Recruitment and Talent Acquisition: AI can assist in automating repetitive tasks involved in the recruitment process. HR professionals can use AI-powered tools to screen resumes, analyze candidate profiles, and identify potential matches for job openings. AI can also help in conducting initial interviews, sending contracts, onboarding, and training.

  2. Data Analysis and Insights: HR professionals deal with vast amounts of employee data. AI can help in analyzing this data, identifying trends, and generating actionable insights. By using AI algorithms, HR professionals can gain valuable information about employee engagement, performance, and retention. These insights can support decision-making processes related to training programs, career development, and workforce planning.

  3. Employee Self-Service and Chatbots: AI-powered chatbots and self-service portals can provide employees with instant access to HR-related information and services. Chatbots can answer frequently asked questions, provide guidance on policies and procedures, and assist in basic HR tasks such as leave requests and benefits enrollment. This frees up HR professionals' time from handling routine inquiries, allowing them to focus on strategy.

  4. Performance Management: AI can enhance performance management processes by providing objective assessments and feedback. HR professionals can leverage AI tools to monitor employee performance, identify areas for improvement, and suggest personalized development plans. AI can also help in analyzing performance data to identify patterns and make more accurate performance predictions.

  5. Learning and Development: AI-based learning platforms can provide personalized training and development opportunities for employees. HR professionals can use AI algorithms to recommend relevant courses, create customized learning paths, and track employees' progress. AI can also support adaptive learning, providing targeted content based on employees' strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles.

  6. Employee Engagement and Satisfaction: AI can contribute to employee engagement initiatives by conducting sentiment analysis. HR professionals can use AI to gather feedback from employees through surveys, social media analysis, or sentiment analysis of communication channels. This helps in understanding employee sentiment, identifying areas of improvement, and designing effective engagement strategies.

Looking for more insights on how to become a great place to work? You're in the right place. Subscribe to the podcast and get the newsletter chock full of actionable ideas, right in your inbox.

A yellow robot looks out at the sunset contemplating its role in the universe.

Follow Us

  • Instagram
  • Linkedin
  • Facebook Basic Square


Latest Guides

bottom of page