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The AI Skills Every HR Leader Will Need to Know in 3 Years
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The AI Skills Every HR Leader Will Need to Know in 3 Years

One Minute Takeaway

  • HR professionals need to cultivate new skills and appreciate the implications of using AI.
  • Technical understanding of AI tools, data literacy, ethics, change management, and human-centered design thinking are key skills that HR leaders need to develop.
  • HR professionals can get these skills through formal and informal education, such as degree programs, online courses, and conferences.

In the landscape of modern business, artificial intelligence (AI) has become an inextricable part of operations and strategy. Among the various departments that have been affected, HR stands out as an area experiencing substantial transformation due to the massive potential of AI.

As we increasingly witness the marriage of HR and AI, the function of HR is undergoing a fundamental shift. The integration of AI in HR is not merely a trend; it’s a revolutionary change that’s redefining the way HR leaders and their teams operate. While HR has traditionally been viewed as a people-centric, intuition-based field, the advent of AI is supplementing this perspective even further with data-driven decision-making abilities.

The primary driving factor behind the rising integration of AI in HR is the evolution of AI technology itself. Over the past decade, AI has significantly matured, with improved abilities to analyze, learn, and even mimic human-like conversation and behavior. And with large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT blasting onto the scene in a matter of months, today’s AI is more efficient, accurate, and versatile than ever before. Consequently, HR professionals now have powerful tools at their disposal that can automate repetitive tasks, predict future trends, and enhance the overall employee experience.

According to Joey Price, CEO of Jumpstart:HR and Paycor Spring Virtual Summit presenter, “The thing about leveraging AI is that we have to realize that there’s anxiety in the room, there are pressures that we face, whether we’re an HR pros, managers of organizations, if we’re leading people in general. There are three questions we’re all asking: One, will AI take my job or make me better? Two, will I have to lead an RIF (reduction in force) due to AI? Three, what can I do to help my workforce navigate the road ahead?”

From talent acquisition and onboarding to employee engagement, performance management, and offboarding, there’s hardly an HR process that AI can’t optimize. It can scan resumes more accurately than humans, saving time in recruitment. It can provide real-time feedback to employees, enhancing performance management. It can even predict an employee’s likelihood to leave the organization, helping with retention.

To leverage AI effectively, HR professionals must acquire a new set of skills. These skills will not only help them use AI tools proficiently but also understand the implications of AI in the workplace, ensuring ethical, fair, and transparent use of the technology.

In the next three years, these AI skills will be indispensable for HR professionals. As AI becomes more entrenched in HR, professionals who can skillfully navigate this new landscape will be invaluable to their organizations. They will be the ones to bridge the gap between technological innovation and human needs, ushering in a new era of HR that is more efficient, objective, and impactful.

Overview of the Current AI Trends in HR

Automation of Repetitive Tasks. One of the major trends in HR is the use of AI to automate repetitive tasks. These tasks could include everything from writing job descriptions to onboarding new hires, answering employee questions, and even handling some aspects of payroll and benefits. By automating these tasks, HR professionals can save a significant amount of time and focus on more strategic initiatives.

Enhanced Employee Experience. AI is also being used to enhance the employee experience. For instance, AI-powered chatbots are now a common feature in many workplaces, answering employee queries 24/7 and offering instant responses. Some companies are also using AI to personalize employee benefits and wellness programs, helping to improve employee satisfaction and retention.

Predictive Analytics. AI-powered predictive analytics is another key trend in HR. These tools can analyze large amounts of data to predict future trends and outcomes, such as who might be at risk of leaving the company, which employees are high performers, or where there may be gaps in skills.

Bias Reduction in Hiring. AI is being used to help reduce bias in the hiring process. By using algorithms to screen resumes and shortlist candidates, companies can help ensure a more objective selection process that is less influenced by unconscious bias, leading to a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Resume Screening and Candidate Shortlisting. AI can parse hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes and applications quickly, identifying candidates who best match a job description. This technology not only reduces the time and effort invested by recruiters in manual screening but also ensures a more objective assessment.

Chatbots for Candidate Engagement. AI-powered chatbots are increasingly common in the recruitment process. These bots can answer queries from candidates, provide information about the company and job roles, and even schedule interviews, enabling HR to focus on more strategic aspects of recruitment while ensuring a positive candidate experience.

AI has the potential to revolutionize talent acquisition and management, improving efficiency, objectivity, and overall effectiveness. HR professionals will need to develop the skills to use these tools effectively, and a solid understanding of how AI can enhance these aspects of their work will be a vital part of their future role.

Understanding AI and Machine Learning: Fundamental Knowledge HR Professionals Should Have About AI

Like we said earlier, HR professionals don’t need to be AI engineers, but having a basic understanding of what AI is and how it works is crucial. This includes understanding the difference between artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning, as well as knowing what algorithms are and how they’re used in AI applications. Understanding these concepts can help HR professionals make better decisions about which AI technologies to adopt and how to use them effectively.

Understanding the ethical implications of AI is an essential skill for HR, including understanding the potential biases that can be introduced into AI systems, the implications of AI decision-making for fairness and transparency, and the potential privacy and data security issues associated with using AI. HR leaders should be equipped to navigate these ethical issues and ensure that their organization’s use of AI aligns with its values and legal obligations.

Some of the skills HR professionals need to develop over the coming months and years include:

  • Technical Understanding of AI Tools. A fundamental skill that HR professionals will need is a technical understanding of AI tools. You don’t necessarily need to become an AI engineer, but a basic understanding of how AI works and its applications in HR will be crucial. This includes understanding how to operate AI tools, interpret their output, and integrate them into current HR processes.
  • Data Literacy. In an AI-driven HR world, data is king. HR professionals will need to become comfortable with data, understanding how to interpret, analyze, and use it to make informed decisions. This includes understanding basic statistical analysis, predictive modeling, and data visualization.
  • Ethical and Legal Implications of AI. As AI tools become more prevalent in HR, understanding the ethical and legal implications will be crucial. This includes ensuring the fair and unbiased use of AI, maintaining privacy and confidentiality of data, and adhering to relevant legal regulations.
  • Change Management. The introduction of AI in HR will inevitably lead to changes in processes and possibly job roles. HR professionals will need to be adept at managing these changes, including communicating effectively about AI, addressing resistance to its use, and facilitating training and development to upskill employees.
  • Human-Centered Design Thinking. Finally, despite the technical nature of AI, the ultimate goal of its use in HR is to improve the human experience. Therefore, HR professionals will need to adopt a human-centered design thinking approach when implementing AI, including understanding the needs, motivations, and behaviors of employees and designing AI solutions that enhance their experience and well-being.

Formal Education: Overview of Courses, Certifications, and Degrees in AI

Because AI is developing and changing at light speed, HR professionals must stay informed about the latest developments and trends. Here are some ideas for training opportunities:

  • Degree Programs
    Several universities and colleges worldwide now offer degree programs in AI, machine learning, and related fields. These are often found in course catalogs under computer science, but interdisciplinary programs are also becoming more common. These degree programs provide a comprehensive understanding of AI, its principles, and its applications. Though typically pursued by those aiming for technical roles, HR professionals seeking a deep understanding of AI could consider this route.
  • Online Courses and Certifications
    A variety of online platforms offer courses and certification programs focused on AI and its various aspects. Platforms such as Udacity and LinkedIn Learning have courses designed and delivered by industry experts and university professors. They range from introductory classes to more advanced courses focusing on specific AI applications. Many of these platforms also offer certificates upon completion, which can be added to your resume or LinkedIn profile.
  • MOOCs
    Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are another great resource for learning about AI. These free courses are available on various online platforms and cover a wide range of topics. Some popular MOOC providers for AI include Stanford University’s Coursera, Harvard’s edX, and Google’s AI Hub.
  • AI Certifications for HR Professionals
    As AI continues to permeate the HR field, some organizations and learning platforms have started offering AI certifications specifically tailored for HR professionals. These programs focus on the application of AI in HR processes and help HR professionals understand how to leverage AI tools effectively.
  • Continuous Learning
    Formal education, whether through a degree program, online course, or certification, should be viewed as the starting point for learning about AI. Given the rapid pace of advancements in the field, continuous learning is essential. This can involve staying updated with the latest AI research, attending industry conferences and webinars, or joining AI-focused groups and forums.

Remember, the goal isn’t necessarily to become an AI expert, but rather to have a sufficient understanding of AI to make informed decisions and strategize effectively within the HR context.

Informal Education: Networking and Professional Development

In addition to formal training, many other options exist for expanding your AI knowledge:

  • Conferences
    Numerous AI and HR-focused conferences occur each year that bring together professionals from all over the world to share their knowledge and expertise. These events offer an opportunity to learn about the latest AI trends in HR, hear case studies, and gain insights from industry leaders. They also provide a platform for networking with other HR professionals, AI experts, and vendors. Some popular conferences include the HR Technology Conference, SHRM Tech Conference, and AI & Big Data Expo.
  • Seminars and Workshops
    AI seminars and workshops provide a more focused learning environment, often covering specific topics in greater depth. They are usually interactive, allowing attendees to ask questions and engage in discussions. Workshops can offer hands-on experience with AI tools relevant to HR. These events can be found through industry associations, professional organizations, or educational institutions.
  • Webinars and Online Events
    Webinars and online events offer similar learning opportunities as in-person events, with the added benefit of being accessible from anywhere. Many webinars are also recorded (like Joey Price’s Spring Virtual Summit session), so they can be watched at a later time if you’re unable to attend live.
  • Professional Development Groups
    Joining professional groups focused on AI in HR can be beneficial for continuous learning and networking. These groups often host their own events, share resources, and facilitate discussions among members. Examples include LinkedIn groups, local SHRM chapters, or online communities such as HR.com.
  • Vendor Events
    Many AI vendors host their own events, including product demos, training sessions, and user conferences. These can be useful for learning more about specific AI tools, getting questions answered, and networking with other users.

Attending these various events not only enhances your knowledge of AI in HR but also helps develop a professional network that can provide ongoing support, insights, and collaboration opportunities as the landscape changes. They offer a chance to learn from others’ experiences, ask questions, and gain a practical understanding of AI application in HR.

Despite the advanced capabilities of AI, it is crucial to remember the importance of ethics and humanity in HR. AI should be used responsibly, respecting privacy, avoiding bias, and always serving to improve the employee experience. HR leaders, with their understanding of people and organizational culture, play a key role in ensuring this balance.

In conclusion, AI is not a threat but rather an opportunity for HR. It is a tool that can augment human capabilities, improve efficiency, and support better decision-making. But it requires HR to learn new skills and adapt to a changing environment. With the right skills and mindset, the future of HR looks bright, with AI serving as a powerful ally in achieving company goals.