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AI At Work : Benefit Or Threat?

Posted by Kate Smedley on 18 Apr 2017

Has the obliteration of jobs by automation been over-exaggerated? At the end of last year Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned that up to 50% of UK jobs could be wiped out by automation. A recent report suggests that so far the AI-jobs apocalypse has yet to materialise.

Recent research from the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) together with CV-Library found that two thirds of businesses had not yet witnessed job losses due to automation. Over a third believed that automation had actually increased the number of jobs available.

This is an outcome suggested by Deloitte. In 2015, it highlighted the benefits of automation and its ability to create better quality jobs by removing tedious and dull work which increases the potential for errors due to boredom. Its research also noted that as a result of automation:-

  • 5 million low risk jobs have been created since 2001, compared to 800,000 high risk jobs lost.
  • Each new low-risk job pays a salary £10,000 higher than the high risk job it replaced.

This does not alleviate underlying concerns but it may suggest a transition in the nature of work. PwC’s latest UK Economic Outlook predicts that 30% of jobs in the UK are at risk from automation by the early 2030s. Like Deloitte, however, it notes that the type of available jobs will change. Sectors at highest risk of job losses through automation include transport, wholesale and retail and manufacturing. Jobs in education and health and social work  are at the lowest risk of being replaced.

Ongoing resistance to AI

Despite this more encouraging outlook, the CIEHF/CV Library survey reports a ‘resistance’ among employees to automation as employers are failing to communicate its benefits effectively.

HR remains one of the most resistant areas to AI. Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends Survey found that progress towards people analytics in the last year remains stubbornly slow. This is perhaps unsurprising as nearly half of recruitment professionals are still not using applicant tracking software in hiring processes.

Hiring teams must first acknowledge the advantages of automation in recruitment to overcome its resistance to technology. In hiring processes,this means the automation of mundane procedures, including personalised e-mails to job applicants, effective screening to reduce unconscious bias and insights into key hiring metrics that impact your ability to hire. It also enables hiring teams to create more effective onboarding processes and improve retention of new hires.

In short, the future lies in leveraging the benefits of humans and AI working together to create what has been described as a 'human services cloud'. 

An article in the Harvard Business Review suggests that overcoming resistance to AI is twofold. To accept and take advantage of automation, consumers must trust both in the technology and in the business delivering the innovation. For employers that means having confidence in their supplier of recruitment software and its ability to deliver benefits to its hiring process. Three steps exist to gaining that trust:-

Cognitive compatibility : In other words, make it easy to understand. The more complex the nature of the technology, the less likely consumers are to trust its ability to achieve desired goals. For HR, that goal is to streamline hiring processes to ensure not only faster hiring but a better quality of hire.

Trialability : A trial of potential new technology helps to understand the benefits and reduce any reluctance to embrace technology. Advorto offers a 30 day free trial of our software to enable hiring teams to experience the system and its benefits before making a commitment to buy.  

Usability : To encourage buy-in among tech-resistant hiring teams, technology, especially HR software, must be easy to use. Advorto’s easy to use recruitment software requires no formal training and its usability can again be tested during a month long trial period.  

Recruitment software aside, as companies continue to invest in technology it is vital to maintain employee buy-in and foster trust by upskilling employees. The UK faces a significant digital skills crisis in addition to a wider talent shortage but employers are failing to invest in the necessary training to equip employees with vital skills. Training and development is essential for businesses that wish to not only retain but to continue to attract talent to their brand. It will also go some way to overcoming ‘resistance’ to technology in the workplace.

Ethical concerns

On a final note, ethical concerns is an area that HR must address the use of artificial intelligence increases. 

The EU[1] has proposed the creation of a European agency to provide technical, ethical and regulatory advice on robotics and AI, including the consideration of a minimum income to compensate people replaced by robots and a ‘kill switch’ for malfunctioning AI systems. A similar concern was recently expressed by the International Bar Association which warned that AI could ultimately lead to the introduction of legislation for quotas of human workers in the future[2].

While the debate over the benefits of AI at work continues, there is no doubt about the struggle that employers face to hire and retain qualified candidates. HR software is HR’s first step towards embracing the benefits of automation and creating more effective talent management strategies.

Take your first step towards AI.  Advorto’s world class software is used by some of the world’s leading organisations to hire better people faster. Discover how usable our talent recruitment system is. Start your 30 day free trial now.

You might also like to read:-

HR Must Act Now To Address The Tech Talent Crisis

Is Your Business Guilty Of These 3 Employer Fails?

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