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Florida State Council Affiliate of SHRM

Embracing Automation: Infusing the Human Touch into Modern HR Processes

By Jay Polaki

Introduction

The field of Human Resources (HR) has undergone a profound transformation in recent years, with technology playing an increasingly significant role in shaping how organizations manage their workforce. The advent of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) has brought about numerous advancements in HR processes, allowing for streamlined operations and improved efficiencies. However, as we delve into the era of automation, it’s essential to strike a delicate balance between technology and the human touch that defines HR’s core essence.

As technology continues to reshape industries, the HR domain is no exception. Automation of HR processes has raised questions about whether the human touch can be maintained in this digital era. Striking a balance between leveraging technology and preserving the human element is the key to transforming HR into a more efficient and empathetic powerhouse.

The Essence of the Human Touch in HR

Human Resources has always been, at its core, about people. From recruitment and onboarding to performance management and employee engagement, HR professionals have been the driving force behind creating an environment where employees can thrive. This “human touch” encompasses empathy, understanding, and the ability to connect personally. This aspect makes HR a vital component of any organization, laying the foundation for healthy company culture and employee satisfaction.

However, with the advent of automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), HR processes have witnessed a revolution in efficiency and accuracy. Mundane and time-consuming tasks like data entry, resume screening, and payroll management can now be streamlined through technology. This has led to concerns that the allure of faster, more efficient processes might overshadow the human touch.

The Synergy Between Technology and Empathy

While technology can undeniably optimize HR functions, the true magic happens when it works harmoniously with human empathy. Rather than replacing human interaction, automation should be seen as a tool to amplify and support HR professionals in their mission to foster positive employee experiences. By relegating repetitive tasks to machines, HR teams can redirect their focus toward strategic initiatives that require emotional intelligence and a deep understanding of human behavior.

For instance, the initial stages of recruitment, such as resume screening, can be expedited through AI algorithms that match skills and experience with job requirements. However, the human touch is essential in understanding the nuances that make a candidate an ideal cultural fit for the organization. Similarly, while an automated onboarding process can ensure a seamless introduction to the company’s policies and procedures, the personal interactions and mentorship from colleagues make new hires feel truly welcomed.

The Art of Personalization

One of the ways technologies can enhance the human touch in HR is through personalization. Modern HR systems can capture and analyze vast amounts of employee data, from performance metrics to career aspirations. Leveraging this data, HR professionals can tailor learning and development opportunities that resonate with each individual employee. Personalized training programs and growth pathways demonstrate a company’s commitment to employee success and acknowledge the uniqueness of each person within the organization.

Moreover, technology can facilitate ongoing feedback and coaching. Regular check-ins and pulse surveys can provide insights into employee morale and engagement, allowing HR teams to proactively address concerns and celebrate achievements. This continuous feedback loop, enabled by technology, creates a culture of open communication and demonstrates that the organization values its employees’ voices.

Building Bridges, Not Barriers

Automation of HR processes should not be perceived as a barrier to human interaction but rather as a bridge that connects HR professionals more effectively with employees. Chatbots and virtual assistants can handle routine queries, allowing HR personnel to engage in deeper conversations and address complex issues. When employees feel that their concerns are being heard and understood, their satisfaction and commitment to the organization naturally increase.

Additionally, automation can help break down geographical barriers in today’s globalized workforce. Remote and distributed teams can benefit from digital communication tools, virtual team-building activities, and online training platforms. This ensures that the human touch is extended even to employees who may never physically set foot in the same office.

Preserving Ethics and Inclusivity

As technology takes center stage in HR, it is crucial to ensure that ethical considerations and inclusivity are not compromised. Algorithms and AI models must be carefully calibrated to avoid bias in hiring and performance evaluations. Human oversight is essential to rectify any unintended consequences that might arise from automated decision-making processes. By combining technological advancements with human vigilance, HR professionals can guarantee all employees a fair and inclusive work environment.

Conclusion

The human touch remains an irreplaceable element in the ongoing transformation of HR processes. Automation and technology are powerful tools that can elevate HR functions to new heights of efficiency and accuracy. However, the human touch – the ability to empathize, understand, and connect – imbues HR with its true value. By embracing technology as an ally rather than a replacement, HR professionals can weave a tapestry of personalized experiences, foster inclusivity, and empower employees to thrive in a digital age.

The future of HR lies in the delicate balance between automation and the enduring human spirit. The ‘human’ in Human Resources is a reminder that people, their well-being, and their growth are at the core of organizational success.

Jay Polaki, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, is a global HR technology innovator and thought leader in HR digital transformation, the future of work, ethical AI in HR, talent selection and assessment systems, and employee experience. She brings her experiential learning and insights to her keynotes and regularly contributes to Forbes, HRD, and other global HR publications. Taking the people-first approach and providing transformational workplace technology solutions is why Jay loves working in the People Function. As the founder & CEO of HR Geckos, a digital HR operations platform powered by an AI chatbot, Jay’s mission is to transform employee experiences in the hybrid workplace so that people and organizations thrive. Making HR as agile as a gecko is Jay’s motto! Jay lives in the Washington DC Metro Area, reads Agatha Christie, grows tomatoes and roses in her verdant garden, swaps HR tech stories with global HR leaders on her podcast HR Bytes, solves puzzles and crosswords, and loves training her chatbot, HRGeckoBot, with her little nephews.

info@hrgeckos.com