In August, staffing service provider Allegis Group released survey resultsthat showed more than a quarter of HR professionals think artificial intelligence in the workplace will be disrupting and/or displacing most jobs in 10 years.
Fewer, however — 21 percent — said they were excited about AI use potentially increasing.
That wasn’t the only recent indication that HR is somewhat leery of AI. A May survey conducted by CareerBuilder found AI makes more than a third of HR managers nervous.
Employees, too, are reportedly concerned about the impact AI could have. Seventy-two percent of U.S. adults, for example, said in a recent Pew Research Center survey they were worried about robots and computers automating tasks currently performed by humans in the future.
All those fears, however, may be somewhat unfounded.
Other research has been released within the last year that suggests artificial intelligence in the workplace could actually be a positive thing, creating jobs in some industries and helping to improve overall efficiency.
Employees’ and HR professionals’ hesitation seems to center around a few key concerns — which, upon closer inspection, may appear to be more of a fallacy than a fact:
CONCERN NO. 1: AI COULD ELIMINATE THE NEED FOR HR
The reality is that’s highly unlikely. While a number of HR professionals may fear automation could reduce the need for a robust HR department, AI use doesn't necessarily have to result in downsizing. A number of companies have, in fact, found artificial intelligence can help strengthen the recruiting process. IBM, GE and Hilton Worldwide currently use algorithms to screen and hire new employees, according to Fast Company, which published an article on the topic last year.
Reducing the amount of time HR professionals spend on reviewing applicants could free them up to handle other, more strategic work, such as passive recruiting efforts or talent development. CareerBuilder’s May AI survey revealed managers could gain back an average of 14 hours a week by automating tasks. A lack of internal automation was shown to have a negative effect on productivity, candidate and employee experience and other elements.
CONCERN NO. 2: ROBOTS WILL TAKE WORKERS’ JOBS
While McKinsey Global Institute research found companies could potentially be capable of automating tasks that comprise at least 30 percent of the activities involved in 60 percent of all occupations, McKinsey’s report also noted few occupations are fully automatable.
While artificial intelligence in the workplace may play into some aspects of production, humans will still be needed to handle specific tasks. In fact, a 2017 study from the Centre for European Economic Research suggests the number of jobs at risk could be as low as nine percent, due to forecasts failing to factor in the substantial diversity of tasks occupations contain. People, in short, aren’t going away anytime soon.
CONCERN NO. 3: INCREASED TECHNOLOGY USE WILL REQUIRE AN ENTIRELY NEW SKILL SET
This one’s not so far off, actually. A 2016 Pew survey found 87 percent of workers believe they’ll need to get training and develop new job skills throughout their time in the workforce to keep up with expected changes. Seventy percent of technologists, scholars, practitioners, strategic thinkers and education leaders expect such programs to emerge and be successful.
Yet organizations, in many instances, may be responsible for initiating tech-specific training, instead of relying on workers to seek it out. For tips, read our recent blog post on what type of employee training you should offer.
If your organization isn’t quite ready to make the leap to AI use and increased automation, you might find outsourcing one or more services could allow your HR professionals to focus on less rudimentary work.
A number of companies are moving in that direction: The global HR consulting service market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 6 percent over the next five years, according to a report published earlier this year.