HR automation: What does the future hold for HR?

Technology is a reality that is transforming virtually every industry and profession, and Human Resources (HR) management is no exception. Companies all over the globe are embracing the new technological trends in their day to day work. Automation and artificial intelligence have gripped the HR discipline. All HR management work that is routine, standard and repetitive can be automated. Against this background what will become the role of HR professionals, redundant or more critical?

But, ‘human’ is still right there in the name though technology is trying to decipher human intelligence. With all people dealings, there is need to take cognisant of the fact that human are creatures of emotion and logic. Emotional health is at the centre of winning people. Certainly, the gambit of the role played by HR will not go into extinction vis a vis technological/automation changes but will have to mould itself to fit into new dynamism of organisations, labour market, employee expectations etc.

HR Management though guided by HR policy and procedures is incomplete without application of some discretion on a case-by-case basis. Human decisions are perceived or expected to be logically, but in actual fact they are largely influenced by that they know, emotions, opinions, experiences, and even memories. The role of HR and their traditional methods of managing the workforce may have changed or are changing but the human element cannot easily be negated. The human element is the most crucial when dealing with people at various levels. It is true and factual that systems and processes should adopt the latest technology to ease the work of HR professions but the human quality of people management and skilling given by other humans cannot be side-lined.

Doing business in the 21st century requires that employees are coached, championed and guided. This now calls for HR leaders who are broader thinkers, tech savvy and nimble enough to deal with an increasingly agile and restless workforce. Jill Goldstein says, “I think we are going to see HR positions develop in such a way that they will probably be one of the most sought for professionals in the enterprise.” HR Management role has become that of workforce advisors. Technology has helped free HR professionals to take on bigger picture matters and reinforce the strategic nature of HR management. Their role now is also to make more information available to employees. This will also require them to free up time to focus more on business, employee career paths and employee wellness.

The central role of human resources remains that of paving the way for strategic growth across decisions relating to recruitment, compensation, talent management and performance management. In order to effectively deliver on this ever-changing mandate HR professionals, need to constantly   develop themselves and use their knowledge to keep their organisations in the game. In this automation era HR Management cannot just focus on day to day actions but are now required to offer their input on high level business guidance, leadership and defining the very future of work. There is now an increasing demand to move from traditional rigid systems to new agile organisational structures. This much needed   engine of change can be driven by HR professionals. They will act as the bridge between digital and the human and suggest the strategies to help achieve a balance of the future work especially carving out an intelligent pathway   for a promising future.

Issues of employee engagement as strategic imperatives have never been more critical. In this technological age employees are no less important than customers. Just like without customers there is no business, without engaged employees there is no performance culture. This sea change era requires HR professionals to understand and harness diversity in the workforce and to build career resilient staff. Demand for outstanding talent is going to increase and the only way to stay competitive is by ensuring that the right people are hired, kept happy, motivated and retained. Understanding what employees want and what drives them should become business priority in order to survive. Organisations through HR will need to be mindful and make intelligent choices choosing the right technology to keep their workforce satisfied.

As companies accept the digital transformation it is essential to improve operations and serve consumers better. However, this would not be possible to make significant improvements unless due consideration is given to cultural transformations. Such changes will not be successful without considering employee attitudes. As a current trend in business building there is a real need to build   people so that they build the business. Under such considerations there is need to invest in people skills since people need more than motivation to embrace new ways of doing things. In view of all these changes, HR roles remain at the centre stage.

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at