guest column:Emmanuel Zvada

HR in the age of disruptions needs to play the role of agile leaders with a digital and business mindset, helping their organisations stay ahead of the technological curve. Smart technologies are not just changing our homes; they are edging their way disrupting the workplaces.

I thank IPMZ (Institute of People Management of Zimbabwe) for pioneering Digital HR Transformation last week, it was really long overdue in the Zimbabwean HR fraternity as it has the potential to improve productivity, efficiency and accuracy across organisations both private and public.

What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to technology used to do a task that requires some level of intelligence to accomplish. In other words, they are tools trained to do what a human can do. AI is different from ordinary software’s because it has high-speed computation, a huge amount of quality data and advanced algorithms. AI technologies offer significant opportunities to improve HR functions, such as self-service transactions, recruiting and talent acquisition, payroll, reporting, access policies and procedures. Human resources executives have faith that merging AI into HR administration functions will benefit and improve the overall employee experience.

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Artificial intelligence and HRM

AI is reinventing human resources in a way not seen before by automating the repetitive task of hiring, onboarding, learning, and development, allowing HR teams to focus more on creative and strategic work. AI is being used in HR to automate repetitive, low-value tasks thus increasing the focus on more strategic work. Many fear that the rise of AI will lead to machines and robots replacing human workers and view this progression in technology as a threat rather than a tool to better ourselves. Let me clear all the fears and resistance of AI by enlightening all HR practitioners that you are not been replaced but HR processes, system and practices are just being reinvented.

Why artificial intelligence
Adopting a workplace artificial intelligence leads to more automatic processing for tasks that a company works through each day. It is crucial to note that the beauty of AI in the workplace is that the same amount of work that can be done in a day or two days by employees with the aid of AI it can be done in hours. This means productivity and efficiency is enhanced. Using AI in the workplace is also easier than many thinks. Artificial intelligence in the workplace allows a company and its employees to reach maximum efficiency levels, leaving more time for projects and networking.

Eliminate repetitive, manual processes with automation
AI automates processes eliminating repetitive, manual processes replacing them with automation. Think about how much time is wasted on repetitive processes that could be performed via automation. By automating many of the physical and redundant processes performed by your workforce, you can allocate more time, resources, and brainpower to larger endeavour’s like sales strategy and customer satisfaction.

Save time especially use of chatbots
A chatbot is a service, powered by pre-programmed rules and sometimes, that you interact through a chat interface. Chatbots have actually been around for years, but they have had a recent renaissance with the rise of artificial intelligence. These easy-to-use tools are incredibly useful in the workplace since they allow for instant communication, ergo faster decision-making.

AI chatbots become smarter over time and learn better answers to frequently asked questions, freeing up time for management to focus on more strategic tasks. These virtual robots are effective and bridge the communication gap between employees and management and make internal information easily accessible.

Artificial intelligence improves employee’s productivity.

The main objective of the organisation is to earn maximum profit by utilising minimum manpower. Through the technical improvements and automation software, multiple tasks in the office are achieved effortlessly and the work of the employees become much simpler. The advancement of technology works as an important tool but at the same time, increases complexity at the workplace. Not only does AI increase productivity, it also improves overall quality. With any job, human-error is always a factor, whereas AI software is less likely to malfunction. It also enables deeper personalisation by understanding what customers want over time, resulting in better quality products and services.

Reducing human bias in decision making
Humans are normally biased in whatever choices or decision they making. Even when striving for inclusiveness, HR professionals may subconsciously lean toward a particular candidate, for example in recruitment. Now, with artificial intelligence, algorithms can be designed to help employers identify and remove these biases. That potentially translates to better hiring communication and attracting a more diverse group of candidates. Those same algorithms can also find candidates who may have been screened out due to human bias.

Artificial intelligent makes HR more human
Embracing of artificial intelligence and machine learning applications in human capital management is the only way that HR practitioners can become more human at workplaces. The automation of tasks through AI technology allows for the freeing of HR professionals to focus on uniquely human abilities such as critical thinking, creativity, and empathy. While they are involved with the more human tasks, technology, at the moment, can handle the more ordinary tasks.

Besides being adaptable, flexible and agile to the ongoing changes, HR has to prepare for the innovations that are yet to occur and the development that might define the future of work. This is where a strong knowledge of current trends and the potential they come with will come in handy.

The HR department is probably the most promising field to put AI to use as they are the first line in dealing with the “human” component of their business. AI could serve as a great ally to them at each stage, right from sourcing talent, shortlisting applicants and performance assessment, making it a key tool in HR management. The journey for HR to pace up with the age of disruption starts from knowing the employees, the business, the environment the business operates in, applying analytics and data science, and then framing relevant strategies which will be then executed using new age technologies as per the requirement of business. Thus, in the age of disruptions, the first thing HR needs to disrupt is themselves.

If organisations wish to remain competitive in today’s global economy, they need to look at ways to incorporate conversational AI for HR transactions in their decision-making processes.

Organisations should rely on AI to perform administrative duties so that HR departments may become more efficient, by so doing HR professionals will be able to focus more on strategic planning at an organisational level.