Seven HR leaders on their top tips for putting humans at the heart of the AI-based workplace
1. Use offices to bring in the human
Remember the point of technology and AI is to pick up repetitive tasks and create frictionless experiences for users. This means work for people becomes more focused on the skills we bring as humans. The technology we create is, after all, created by the humans who will use it. So we should build it with that in mind. Be clear also on the role of offices in bringing people together to collaborate, innovate, experience the culture and learn. There's something about the connections and spontaneity you get when you bring people together... while tech is a great facilitator, businesses grow and evolve through people.
Danny Harmer, chief people officer, Aviva
2. Involve employees
Involve me to engage me! What I help to create I will more naturally own and protect. My top tip would be to ensure that organisations have ways of constantly keeping their teams engaged in what the future might be with regards to future AI/technology-based workplace; communication and engagement should not just be a step on the project or implementation plan. Educating and conditioning teams on the inevitable evolution (or revolution) of change and what the future looks like should be something we’re talking about all the time with our colleagues.
Stuart Branch, group people & technology director, Weetabix
3. Be led by your values
My top tip is be led by your values, and don’t forget about communication. Build all your people processes around your values – this will truly embed them in the employee lifecycle and enable you to scale your culture remotely. But in the age of hybrid and remote working, I think you need to double down on communication, as well as being values led, to keep reinforcing colleagues’ connection to your culture. Working in tech and data driven organisations means I’ve been fortunate enough to have plenty of data points that feedback on why colleagues join, stay and leave, but it’s your culture and communication that will really make the difference for your people.”
Charlotte Forsyth, VP people, Streetbees
4. Make sure AI improves the employee experience
There is a danger that employees see every implementation of AI as either intrusive or reducing them to data-points such as the use of AI-driven sentiment analysis on their emails. It may sound contradictory but AI holds the potential to put humans at the centre, making employees lives easier and aiding career development. The key to putting humans at the centre of AI-powered HR advances lies in a simple question – does the application improve the employee experience? It can, for example, provide quick resolution of HR queries through chatbots and make onboarding more digestible and relevant. Simply put, AI in HR should improve the employee experience, not regulate it.
Jeanette Wheeler, HR director, MHR International
5. Formalise lessons learned
Change fatigue is real. A very common discovery when we embark on technology transformations for our clients. It can be challenging as we work hard to engage tired, untrusting and resistant employees. A simple and powerful way to bridge this gap is by using language that reflects the current sentiment and converting your lessons learned into meaningful, authentic and relatable messages. Create content that uses words captured in team meetings, coffee conversations, team discussions and create that sense of ‘feeling heard’ with your employees.
Neha Dave, change & transformation lead, GP Strategies
6. Ensure you have the right blend of technology and values
A shifting workforce and the increasing adoption of new technologies has led to HR going digital. It’s the wave of things to come and, we would argue, is becoming the very core of the future of human capital management. Within this, it is vital that we do not forget the human element of HR. If you have the right blend of technology and organisational values, then you can achieve a great focus on humanity in a digital world. We believe digital HR needs to be outcomes-based and not process-based. Today’s employees are comfortable navigating a digital environment, and HR should be just as easy and reliable to access. Letting employees fully participate ensures they feel ownership over their employee experience and this keeps people as the focus, even through a digital medium.
John Gaunt, chief human resources officer, Synechron
7. Sculpt work around unique human traits
It’s about tapping into the essence of what makes us human – and different to AI and technology – and sculpting work and responsibilities around these. It’s about focusing on the contribution and value people can bring when released from routine activity. Treat technology and AI as enablers and identify the higher priority work to involve your people in. This requires you to have a strong understanding of the strengths, talents and motivations of your employees, and may mean more regular and different types of conversations than those you have been having. Develop an understanding of how your people and machine can work collaboratively to improve the human experience and benefit the organisation.
Joan O’Connor, head of leadership practice, 10Eighty
Please join Joan O'Connor as she hosts the next Meet the Human Focused Leaders LinkedIn Live event focussed on 'The intersection between technology and communication in leadership'. Joan will be joined by Dan Wilson, head of EMEA payroll sales, and Neha Dave, change & transformation lead, both of GP Strategies. They'll be discussing communication in a transformation project (technology implementation)
Leaders pictured in order left to right on each row