Who Will Train Whom in HR?


Professional training for the HR professional has always been required, and traditionally, they’ve had to keep up their professional development on the following topics, which were always changing:

  • employment laws
  • leadership and organizational trends
  • economic trends around employee recruitment and retention

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as the digital and Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolution, however, is here and transforming the workplace drastically. How much will workplaces change, and how fast? Many are afraid that AI, deep learning, and robotics will eliminate all human work. Although it is true that many jobs—and even whole industries—will change, and possibly even disappear, not all human workers will.

It is interesting to ponder what the role of the HR professional will be in this Fourth Industrial Revolution. Richard Baldwin, in his book The Globotics Upheaval: Globalization, Robotics, and the Future of Work, outlines a key insight of what HR professionals could do: “Realize that humanity is a competitive edge, not a handicap.” This is a very powerful statement, which should inform the fundamental goal of all HR professionals and HR departments—seeing where workers can do their best work with the greatest impact.

Perhaps it is now time in the HR world to take the often-administrative tasks of job design and analysis and make them strategically important to ensure human skills are used to their full potential. Marty Neumeier, in his HR article, discusses key human skills and their innately human qualities, such as:

  • creativity
  • intuition
  • system thinking

Click here to read in greater detail about the human skills required in future workplaces.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will certainly disrupt current workplaces, jobs, and even entire industries, but by combining the thoughts of Richard Baldwin and Marty Neumeier, HR professionals may be able to create more engaging and meaningful work for the new workplace reality.

Discussion Questions:

1. Research and review a Job Analysis (JA) process. From that research, develop a process and create a JA form that takes into account the key human skills required in the future workplace, as outlined by Marty Neumeier and Richard Baldwin.

2. Once your new JA process is complete, prepare a five-minute presentation that would convince your VP of HR that they should adopt your new system of Job Analysis.

Is Artificial Intelligence a Digital Doomsday or a Bonanza for HR?


Artificial Intelligence (AI), natural language processing, and deep learning are all current technology trends which will impact the working world. What will all this advanced technology do to current workplace relationships and HR Departments?

Will it be a digital doomsday where intelligent machines radically eradicate all jobs with the precision of a laser cutting through butter? Or will it be a bonanza for workers and HR with the rise of intelligent, more productive machines that will allow humans to be more innovate and creative?

Let us discuss both perspectives. There has been a long understanding that during any technological revolution that disrupts society it will also displace workers.

At one point in time, there were only two jobs in society: hunters and gatherers. Then, we became farmers which lead to the displacement of 90% of the hunters and gatherers. Farm equipment became more efficient, which put 90% of farmers out of work and the farmers had to transition into factory workers. Then, the knowledge workers started to replace the factory workers.

You can easily see the historical trend in which technology disrupts the workplace.  We can see that AI may start to replace knowledge workers such as doctors, lawyers and accountants. Deep learning machines can now process information and learn from it much faster than humans do.  What will the workers of the future do?

Odds are that AI technology will significantly disrupt the traditional workplace. How can HR be a part of the digital AI revolution? According to an article published in HRD by Rachael Ranosa, which summarizes a CIPD study, there are five things an HR Department can do:  (Click here to read the article)

  1. Develop an implementation strategy for AI and current work integration
  2. HR needs to use AI to make new jobs more meaningful
  3. Allow employees to become more innovative in the workplace
  4. Involve employees in the technology change
  5. Continually develop employees

It may not all be doomsday for workers, according to CIPD. AI and technology are creating as many jobs as they are eliminating.

If history repeats itself, AI and new technology will disrupt a significant portion of the workforce, But if HR is involved and implements the correct strategies, it can lessen the impact on employees and create more meaningful jobs in the future.

Discussion Question

  • Research and create a list of which jobs or professions in the next 10 years may be displaced by technology. Pick two and develop a HR strategic plan to reduce the impact on those employees.

Can AI Reduce Human Error?


For any of us that have worked in a manufacturing environment, we have witnessed many levels of automation that have helped improve worker safety, whether it’s a conveyor belt, a lifting table, or a robot-welding cell.

These improvements over the decades since the industrial revolution have reduced repetitive strain injuries, exposure to workplace chemicals, and have taken away some truly unpleasant manual jobs. Will today’s technological advancement of AI, Machine Learning, and sophisticated robots continue to improve workplace health and safety? 

Many individuals say they will.

Here is an article that says collaborating robots can reduce lost time injuries by 35 percent. This is a significant decrease to WCB costs as well as to workers’ suffering. However, many HR professionals have never heard of this term “collaborative robots” or “Cobots.” Here is the overview of the definition a collaborating robot. According to WHATIS.com, a Cobot is:

“A robot that is capable of learning multiple tasks so it can assist human beings. In contrast; autonomous robots are hard-coded to repeatedly perform one task, work independently and remain stationary.”

Cobots can work alongside humans and have the ability to scan their environment and learn by demonstration and repetition. This could be very helpful in the homecare setting for a Personal Support Worker or RN. They could bring a Cobot with them to the home visit and the Cobot could do the heavy work of lifting or transferring the non-ambulatory patient, thus reducing the risk of a lifting injury to the caregiver. On the other hand, a construction worker could give the Cobot all the work above a certain height. These technological interventions could drastically reduce work-related injuries.

Will Artificial Intelligence (AI) and working robots make the workplace safer?  This is an interesting question to ponder. For centuries automation and robotics have had a positive effect at reducing workplace injuries while increasing efficiency, but will robots that are AI enabled help workers reduce human errors?

Discussion Questions

Read the article Brave new world from OHS Canada, click here to read the article.

What does the article say about Risk Management and AI?

What solutions does the article state to avoid malfunction of AI Robots?

What does the article say about introducing AI Robots into the workplace?





Should Robots Be Training Your Employees?

Phonlamai Photo/Shutterstock

Here is an interesting twist in the world of training and developing employees: Artificial Intelligence (AI) may be better at reading emotional intelligence than HR professionals.

Click here to read the article.

An exceptional human skill is reading people’s emotions, but robots may be better at it than trained HR professionals. A robot with the proper algorithm may be better served training employees, supervisors, and managers on the soft skills of emotional intelligence than an HR professional.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. By using AI and machine-learning algorithms a greater amount of HR data can be analyzed and evaluated at a level of efficiency and accuracy that no human can achieve. Could you image a HR professional evaluating an employee’s emotion with 87 per cent accuracy? Well, AI can reach that level of emotional accuracy. Researchers at MIT have created a wireless system called EQ-Radio, which uses wireless signals to scan an individual and identify if an individual is excited, happy, angry, or sad.

Click here to watch how MIT has developed an emotion detection machine.

Imagine what impact this type of technology may have on training and developing employees? Instead of using the end-of-training session reaction evaluations (commonly known as happy sheets), you can measure if your training had an emotional affect. In addition, there are many other HR applications of using emotions to understand employees at work.

AI and machine learning algorithms may just start to become mainstream in some workplaces. HR must be aware of the impacts of AI on the employees that work in organizations, how to use these new technologies, and how to manage the changes that these technologies will have.

Discussion Questions

Think about AI, machine learning, and EQ-Radio. How could these technologies disrupt training and development in the workplace?

Identify some of the potential ethical concerns that HR departments will need to address when companies start using emotional detection scanners in the workplace? What could HR do to reduce ethical and personal privacy concerns?

Hiring Today and into the Future


A Chief HR Officer I knew very well told me, “Once upon a time we used to use shovels to dig a trench because the shovel was the most efficient technology we had at the time; now we use a back hoe because it is available and more efficient.” The traditional process of collecting and screening resumes can be like using a shovel. The question is, has the time come to drop the shovel, and to start being more efficient by using the new technology that is available? In the world of HR, artificial Intelligence (AI) might just be the technological equivalent of the back hoe.

Click here to read Somen Mondal, ideas on AI and hiring process.

Where is the trend of using AI for hiring going? Who is using AI? What are its successes?

The adoption of AI technology is increasing, with many larger companies experiencing success as they use it in their hiring processes. Unilever is an excellent example. Their new process allows for the following:

  • Greater self-selection by applicant
  • Faster decision making
  • Deeper levels of applicant engagement

Click here to watch a short video on Unilever’s hiring process.

Unilever’s hiring process has become more efficient by using AI to screen and rate candidates from video interviews. Their hiring numbers speak for themselves. Unilever has reduced the hiring process cycle time from 4 months to just 2 weeks. It no longer participates in expensive on-campus tours to generate its recruitment pool; it does it all online, making decisions based on algorithms.

AI for hiring is a trend that is not going to slow down. It is the wave of the future in HR recruitment. Therefore, HR professionals should begin to assess, implement, and evaluate AI hiring systems that will work for their own organizations.

Discussion Questions:

Your VP of HR is aware of Unilever’s success in using AI for hiring. She would like you to create a 5-minute presentation reviewing three other organizations that are using AI as part of their hiring process.

What do you think is the greatest benefit of using AI as a hiring technology? What do you think is the greatest drawback of using AI, or an applicant tracking system, as part of your recruitment strategy?