Future Friday: Can HR be replaced by a robot?

by Michael Haberman on September 13, 2013 · 0 comments


I have written several times in Future Friday about people being replaced by robots. Generally when you think of robots in the workplace you think of a factory floor or even the driverless vehicles I spoke about in this video post. But are robots possible in the administrative areas? Can HR be replaced by a robot?

Is this the “HR lady” of the future?

Is this what the future holds?

Is this what the future holds?

 

If you think of HR as a set of transactions then it is easy to see HR being replaced by a robot. In fact in many situations that replacement has already occurred. Software or other computer based systems have already replaced HR when it comes to getting a copy of the handbook, or a form, or requesting leave time or enrolling for benefits. These were all transactions that most of us were happy to get rid of, though I know of many people who still see that as the crux of their role in HR and are loathe do give them up. As automation proceeds they will have to eventually.

But beyond that arena is it possible for HR to be replaced in the areas thought to require more “humanness”? What about deciding whether someone needs to be terminated? What about settling arguments between two employees? Or investigating sexual harassment?

Will AI be the replacement?

Artificial intelligence is advancing on a daily basis. What if HR was replaced by an AI robot? What would the advantages be? I can think of several:

  • Knowledge of employment laws, benefits laws, compensation laws, etc., a level of knowledge that few humans could obtain.
  • An application of that knowledge in a totally consistent manner.
  • No emotion to interfere with decisions.
  • Availability 24/7

Of course what this “HR lady” would lack is the “humanness” that we see as being essential to the role of human resources. Indeed, as I wrote HERE, “humanness” is one of the characteristics we will need to keep in order to prevent losing our jobs to robots.

It is something to think about in your own job, today. What aspects of your job could be replaced by a robot with artificial intelligence? What can you do today to start moving those things away from what you do now? This will help you get to the essential “human” aspects of your job, the Raison d’être of what you do in HR. This analysis will help you focus on the important and start the process of getting rid of the unimportant.


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