6 Things HR Leaders Need to Know About Introducing AI Into the Workplace

Make no mistake about it, AI is the biggest technological advancement the world has seen since the advent of the internet. Its growing adoption has far-reaching implications across every industry and job function—including Human Resources and Employee Wellness.

While it’s easy to find talk around if and how artificial intelligence will change the future of work, it’s harder to uncover the facts HR leaders need to know as AI becomes a standard technology within the professional world. 

Introducing AI into the workplace has profound implications for both employers and employees alike. As a leader within your organization, you play a critical role in making sure its adoption helps your organization thrive rather than struggle in trying to harness the power of this new technology. 

There’s a lot to understand about artificial intelligence in the workplace, so we’ve boiled down the top 6 things you need to know right now as an HR leader in your organization.

1. Use of Artificial Intelligence by HR Leaders is High and Getting Higher

Although still a novel technology, AI has already been widely adopted among HR professionals. In fact, the majority of HR leaders say they use artificial intelligence to support several HR functions, according to a recent study by Eightfold AI. Those functions include:

  • Employee Records Management (78%)
  • Payroll Processing and Benefits Administration (77%)
  • Recruitment and Hiring (73%)
  • Performance Management (72%)
  • Onboarding New Employees (69%)

Forecasts project that these adoption rates will only climb higher, with one survey by Business News Daily revealing that 92% of HR leaders intend to increase their AI use in at least one area of HR in the near future.

Before introducing any new tool into your processes, it’s important to approach your decision with intention. Adopt AI to solve business problems, not follow a trend.

2. AI is a Major Cause of Anxiety for Workers

As much optimism there is surrounding AI’s potential to make work more efficient, there’s also significant fear that its adoption will eliminate jobs and destabilize industries. The news headlines alone are enough to spark concern for employees over their job security. 

The data tells the story: Nearly 4 in 10 U.S. workers are worried AI may make some, or all, of their job duties obsolete in the future, according to APA’s 2023 Work in America Survey

Job insecurities, whether real or perceived, can motivate employees to start looking for other opportunities. Fortunately, much of these concerns can be alleviated with transparency and proper communication. HR leaders need to take an active role in keeping employees in the loop when adopting AI technology, including offering opportunities to understand their root cause of AI-related anxiety, as well as allowing input from employees before enacting sweeping changes. 

As always, HR leaders play an important role in the mental wellness of their employees. When it comes to introducing AI, that responsibility is as important as ever.

3. AI Can Offer Major Benefits to the Workplace Experience 

Like any technology, the potential of artificial intelligence is in its application. AI can save HR leaders significant time and stress, while simultaneously improving performance across a number of key HR functions.

Successful HR leaders have used AI’s machine-learning algorithms to optimize their efforts in data-driven decision making, improve employee engagement, streamline recruitment and talent acquisition and more. 

But beyond these top down applications, HR leaders can also integrate AI technology to improve the overall employee experience, such as using it in continuing education and personalizing employee benefits. 

Think about the biggest challenges your own organization faces and how AI may be able to play a supporting role in addressing them.

4. AI Has Its Limitations

Generative AI can produce seemingly miraculous results when used in the right situation. Still, it’s not infallible. The entire professional world is still learning how to use it properly, and the technology is still evolving.

This reality became clear in a recent study by Harvard Business school, which surveyed HR executives using AI in their recruitment efforts. Surprisingly, they saw that as many as 88% of HR leaders found that their AI tools rejected candidates who they would personally deem qualified

AI alone doesn’t have the power to show you the complete picture of any given situation. HR leaders still need to play a hand in analyzing the results of AI so they can interpret its outcomes and avoid unfortunate decision making. 

5. Be Mindful of the Potential Ethical Concerns Surrounding AI

As HR leaders contend with introducing artificial intelligence into the workplace, they also need to be aware of the ethical questions it raises. AI can be a powerful tool in finding process efficiencies and enabling data-based decision making. However, given the nature of this technology, HR leaders need to proceed with some caution.

The three main areas HR leaders need to be mindful of when considering the ethical implications of AI are accuracy, privacy, and bias. The output of generative AI is dependent on the data fed into it, and the algorithm that makes decisions with this data. If any link of this chain is weak or incomplete, the output is at risk of introducing bias or making fallible decisions, which can be avoided with human intervention. 

What can HR leaders do to avoid ethical conflict? Get involved.

Start by being a voice in the early evaluation and selection of AI tools, and then advocate for processes and guidelines that safeguard against potential bias, DEI, and privacy concerns. HR leaders should also play a role in educating their teams in how AI is being used at their organization, and what compliance and quality measures have been put in place to avoid ethical concerns. 

6. AI Will Never Replace Human-to-Human Connection

Maybe the most widespread headline surrounding artificial intelligence is about its threat of replacing human labor. While AI can sometimes do seemingly miraculous things, it can never fully appreciate the entire human experience the way that we can.

One of the most important roles HR leaders play is enabling a safe, happy, and productive workplace. In other words, they need to show that they care about their employees. 

So, what happens if an employee loses a family member? Or they begin to struggle with substance misuse? What about a natural disaster? All of these challenges require a level of empathic support that only humans can provide. 

HR leaders can and should turn to artificial intelligence to improve their daily operations, but they also need to remember the importance of human connection. Offering a comprehensive EAP that can connect your team to human support 24/7 is an exceptional way to show that you care. More than just a gesture of empathy, EAPs can also improve retention, employee engagement, and wellbeing across the board.

There’s Nothing Artificial About the Power of an EAP

The top HR leaders know: the highest performing workplaces are the ones who support their employees. From prevention to intervention, Carebridge EAP provides people-first support to help whole organizations thrive. Connect with a member of our team today to learn how.