AI is talk of the town at the moment – how does it play a role in HR?

From Chat GPT to Feedback AI, there seems to be an artificial intelligence (AI) system developing for a multitude of purposes. The adoption of AI has occurred at a rapid pace, leaving humans playing catch up to efficiently integrate AI in a process-driven and cost-effective way. So, how does AI play a role in HR?

The late Stephen Hawking wrote: “The real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence.” He urged business leaders to pursue AI with purpose and prudence but to embrace the coming changes.

We’re entering an age where AI is becoming a serious proposition at an executive leadership level, preparing us for a future where humans and machines can work together, cooperatively, and harmoniously. It is too early to know the precise impact AI leadership will have on organisations.

Examples of AI include activities like a search engine tailoring search results based on our past searches. A GPS navigation system can incorporate live traffic updates to avoid suggesting busy routes. By capturing and analysing data, a learning experience platform can recommend courses based on an individual’s learning interests and what other people with similar interests have done. Some spreadsheet software can analyse a data table in just a few clicks and you can let it know which automatically generated charts were useful for your report. Meanwhile, some modern HRIS can proactively highlight key insights from your people data, going beyond the key performance indicators on your people analytics dashboard. All these are examples of specific cognitive tasks that have been automated – examples of AI in action.

Where AI impacts people and particularly when it comes to the sphere of people management, it’s important to consider what uses are acceptable, and how to increase awareness of AI’s potential use and safeguard against misuse.

A survey carried out by CIPD in partnership with HiBob found that bosses were uncomfortable with letting AI do tasks that might disadvantage people’s job prospects and risk the organisation’s reputation. The greater the negative impact, the more uncomfortable bosses were with delegating the task to AI. Indeed, where automated decisions have significant effects on individuals, the UK General Data Protection Regulation limits its use to certain scenarios and allows affected individuals to challenge those decisions. So, bosses’ discomfort about certain AI uses could also stem from concern around regulatory compliance.

Among the examples of people management activities, dismissing underperforming employees was most cited as something bosses were uncomfortable with letting AI do, whether the performance criteria were clear (net 87.1%) or not (net 84.1%). In fact, most said they were extremely uncomfortable with letting AI do this.

And what about letting AI identify underperforming employees? Bosses’ opinions were split where performance criteria were clear, with just over half saying they were uncomfortable with letting AI identify underperformers (net 54.1%). Where performance criteria were unclear, more bosses were uncomfortable with letting AI do this (net 77.3%). Undoubtedly, it’s unhelpful to give the task to AI if there aren’t clear criteria to let it to do so accurately.

What does this all mean? AI isn’t going to lead HR strategy or replace people any time soon. Businesses need human discernment and knowledge to manage teams in the best way possible. AI can however enhance the ability for HR professionals to lead with streamlined processes and intuitive data. AI is developing at a rapid pace, who knows where it will lead in the next five years but as Stephen Hawking said, we can adopt it with purpose to help shape ways of working going forward.

Sources: CIPD – Using AI Responsibly in People Management –

People Management – How AI will change Leadership –