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New SHRM Research Shows How HR Leaders Really Feel About AI

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The widespread adoption of artificial intelligence has unequivocally transformed the business landscape, prompting significant shifts in how organizations operate, innovate, and grow. Among those at the forefront of navigating these changes are HR leaders whose perspectives on AI are critical to understanding its broader implications in the workplace. Recent research from SHRM provides a comprehensive view of how HR professionals perceive AI, its benefits and challenges, and the future trajectory of its integration within organizations.

Knowledge Gaps and Learning Curves

Despite the growing importance of AI, many HR leaders acknowledge a gap in their theoretical and practical understanding of these technologies. According to the research (AI in the Workplace, SHRM, 2024), 43% of HR leaders possess either limited or no theoretical knowledge of AI, while 54% have only an intermediate grasp of the fundamentals. This knowledge gap extends to practical experience, with 62% of HR leaders reporting limited interactions with AI-powered applications inside and outside work. These findings highlight the need for ongoing education and professional development to ensure HR leaders can leverage AI effectively.

Human-AI Collaboration Fuels Upskilling over Displacement

AI use could lead to upskilling and reskilling opportunities for workers instead of job displacement. Half of the HR leaders at organizations that utilize AI (50%) reported new upskilling or reskilling opportunities for employees and 30% noted shifts in job responsibilities as a result of AI. In contrast, only 6% reported job displacement. This reinforces the idea that AI is not rendering human roles obsolete but is instead driving a transformation that necessitates new skills and competencies.

Moreover, 83% of HR leaders said they anticipate that upskilling will be essential for workers to remain competitive in a job market increasingly shaped by AI. This underscores the importance of continuous learning and adaptation for HR professionals and the broader workforce.

Most HR leaders (88%) agreed that AI should complement unique human capabilities rather than replace human workers entirely. They believe that optimal functionality requires human intervention (88%) and that the ability to collaborate with AI will be a valuable skill in the foreseeable future (80%). This perspective is critical for fostering a balanced approach to AI integration in which technology enhances human performance rather than detracts from it.

Generative AI: The Leading Edge

Generative AI (GenAI) is the most prevalent type of AI that organizations utilize, with more than 1 in 4 HR leaders (28%) indicating its use. The impact of GenAI has mainly been positive, enhancing efficiency (reported by 75% of organizations that have used it), increasing creativity (69%), and improving work quality (65%). Interestingly, 80% of HR leaders whose organizations use GenAI reported that its implementation has not impacted headcount, suggesting that AI is complementing rather than replacing human workers.

The Transformative Impact of AI in the Workplace

HR leaders have identified several critical changes spurred by AI. Chief among these is an increased concern about cyberattacks, cited by 41% of HR leaders. This heightened awareness underscores the need for robust cybersecurity measures as organizations integrate more AI tools into their operations. Additionally, 30% of HR leaders reported greater pressure for innovation, reflecting the competitive edge that AI technologies can provide. Furthermore, 28% said they see an increased need for upskilling and reskilling the workforce as AI reshapes job roles and skill requirements.

Executive-Level Conversations on AI

Integrating AI into business strategies is an ongoing conversation among HR leaders and other C-suite executives. More than half of HR leaders (53%) discuss AI with their peers at least quarterly. The primary topics of those discussions include business applications of AI (55%), cybersecurity risks (50%), the impact of AI on their industry (48%), and the implementation of AI tools (44%). These discussions are vital for aligning AI initiatives with organizational goals and ensuring a cohesive approach to AI adoption.


As HR leaders continue to navigate the complexities of AI integration, it is crucial to prioritize upskilling and foster a collaborative environment in which human and AI capabilities complement each other. By doing so, organizations can harness the full potential of AI, driving innovation and maintaining a competitive edge in an ever-evolving business landscape.

Learn how SHRM is leading the way on AI transformation.


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.