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AI Adoption in HR Is Growing

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Only about 1 in 4 employers use artificial intelligence to support HR-related activities, but the majority of those organizations began doing so over the past year, according to new research from SHRM.

Nearly half of the surveyed HR professionals say that using AI to support HR has become somewhat or much more of a priority in the last 12 months. The study also found that AI has been adopted most readily at the largest organizations (5,000 or more employees) and among the technology, finance and information industries.

The survey was conducted in January among 2,366 HR respondents representing organizations of all sizes in a wide variety of industries across the U.S.

Most HR professionals are optimistic about the potential for AI, according to the research. Just over 60 percent are optimistic about the potential for the effective use of AI at their organization, and 56 percent are optimistic about the potential for AI to improve collaboration. Yet there are still some (24 percent) who are concerned that AI will lead to job displacement.

That concern aligns with research recently published by SHRM that forecast increased productivity and job role transformation in the coming years, with layoffs and hiring slowdowns being the cost of that surge as employers adjust to a new reality.

“It won’t be a zero-sum game,” said Jeanne Meister, a global HR consultant and thought leader on the future of work. “Some occupations will shrink, some will grow, and others will evolve with new roles, reskilling and job redesign. For example, AI will significantly improve auditing, which will lead to a decline in the size of accounting teams. Certain tasks in recruiting and HR service centers will be automated, but the largest amount of change will be in the evolution of roles.”

When asked why their organization is not using AI technology to support HR, respondents gave three main reasons: a lack of knowledge about how AI tools could help, a lack of resources to properly audit AI algorithms, and the fear that AI would remove the “human touch.”

How HR Uses AI

Among the organizations that have adopted AI for HR purposes, talent acquisition is the top area for its use (64 percent), followed by learning and development (43 percent) and performance management (25 percent).

“Recruiting was the first to adopt AI,” Meister said. “It was a logical place to begin, because AI can impact drafting job descriptions, creating interview questions and predicting attrition. But other areas of HR can be vastly improved by AI—especially performance management.”

Among HR professionals who use AI for recruiting, 65 percent are using it to help generate job descriptions and 42 percent are using it to customize job postings, while about 33 percent are using AI to review or screen applicant resumes, to communicate with applicants during the interview process or to automate candidate searches.

Recruiters said AI saves them time and/or increases their efficiency, improves their ability to identify top candidates and reduces their recruitment costs.

Among organizations that use AI to support learning and development activities, 49 percent are using AI to recommend or create personalized opportunities for their employees, with another 45 percent using it to help track employees’ learning progress. Nineteen percent are using AI to upskill or reskill their workforce. Many respondents mentioned that AI is a great tool for helping them build out new training content and programs.

Among organizations that use AI to support performance management, many are using it to help facilitate performance conversations and next steps, including 57 percent who are using AI to assist managers in providing more comprehensive or actionable feedback to their employees and 46 percent who are using AI to facilitate employee goal setting.

“Performance management is a very interesting use case for AI,” Meister said. AI will not only increase efficiency by reducing the labor-intensive parts of the process, but more importantly improve the performance review itself by helping to remove subjectivity in the evaluation, she said.


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