Technology is our salvation, in many ways. It’s pushing us toward new frontiers and to do things more efficiently and intelligently.
But technology has a flip side. Automation is increasingly becoming a backbone for multiple industries, providing the big data that’s changing the game.
Dancing in the minds of many who work for a living is the specter of becoming obsolete at the hands of automation and HR professionals are no exception.
So, is automation a threat to HR’s job security? Let’s read more about that proposition.
The Less Specialized, the More Likely
A recent report on the issue from McKinsey has clarified things, making automation a little less scary for some HR professionals and underlining urgency for others.
For example, the report defined the likelihood of automation for 4 key roles in the payroll/HR sector. These were HR Manager, HR Specialist, HR Assistant and Payroll Administrator.
Of the 4, guess which one was most likely to succumb to automation?
Yup. Payroll Administrator.
The report made clear that the less specialized the role was, the more likely that it would eventually be automated. Right behind Payroll Administrator, HR Assistant was the next most likely candidate for automation, with HR Manager 3rd and HR Specialist coming out on top as the least likely to be automated.
Not All Bad News
Automation for business has a clear purpose – to eliminate administrative tasks which are time-consuming and labor-intensive. While it’s true that the trend toward automation will eliminate roles at the lower end of HR’s personnel structures, it’s also true that it paves the way for a new way of doing HR.
What automation promises, behind all the job loss terror, is a way of doing HR which creates exceptional experiences for employees in the areas of onboarding, recruiting and ongoing retention efforts. When HR isn’t mired in administrative drudgery and transactional relationships, it can go deeper, creating a superior employee/employer interface that boosts productivity and bolsters retention.
Payroll Ripe for Automation
McKinsey’s report concludes that almost 90% of payroll functions are ripe for automation. But not all payroll professionals agree with this assessment.
Sensitivity to employee need is not yet encompassed by automation (although I don’t believe there’s much skepticism that it will be some day). The human element still comes into play when employee questions arise. The same is true of continually evolving regulatory frameworks.
While automation’s promise lies in efficiencies and enhanced accuracy, it’s not yet ready to replace the exclusively human talent for nuance.
So, the answer to the question posed in this post is one which should inspire optimism on the part of hardworking HR professionals. The robots have not yet arisen to replace you. They are, however, poised to make your roles more meaningful and integral to the organizations you work for.
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