The Benefits of AI for HR with Lean Teams

Jun 26, 2024

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere today, and for many of us, it can all seem a bit overwhelming—especially when it comes to leveraging it for your business and reaping the benefits of AI for HR. But once you’ve got all the facts, it’s easy to see how AI can make day-to-day work for you and your HR team more efficient and impactful than ever.

Generative artificial intelligence, or GenAI, is a subset of AI with algorithms that can be used to create new content, such as text, images, video or code. Maybe you’ve experimented with Chat GPT or DALL-E chatbots to see what they can do. But as much fun as it is to see how you might look as a superhero, AI and GenAI tools have many valuable business applications that are revolutionizing the ways we work today.

If your organization uses a human capital management (HCM) platform, you’ve probably already seen AI in the form of automated administrative tasks, personalized learning or virtual assistants. But what does all the recent buzz about AI and GenAI mean for HR teams—especially those in smaller to mid-sized businesses?

To separate fact from fiction, here are four common misconceptions and the actual benefits of AI for HR to show how it can transform the way your HR team manages your organization’s people and can meet its business challenges.

Misconception: The benefits of AI for HR only apply to large enterprise and/or high-tech organizations.

Actual benefit: AI makes work easier and more efficient for all organizations and HR teams.

It’s not surprising that many people think AI isn’t for smaller organizations because sophisticated technology can seem overly complicated and out of reach. But the truth is, AI simplifies work for HR teams of all sizes by automating repetitive tasks while helping them make better data-driven decisions and focus on more strategic business initiatives.

Most HCM technology solutions that manage HR, payroll, talent and time include AI that streamlines such tasks as recruiting and hiring, onboarding, performance management, compliance and benefits administration.

More recently, GenAI capabilities have been added to these solutions to guide employees, people managers and HR leaders with insights, actions and best practices that can help their organizations become great places to work for all. These GenAI “sidekicks” provide meaningful, personalized information in the moment and recommend next steps so users always stay ahead.

Misconception: AI will replace human workers. 

Actual benefit: AI enhances human capabilities such as creativity and reasoning.

Although AI makes day-to-day work processes easier and more efficient, as an HR professional, you’ve likely heard employees express fear about losing their jobs “to a machine.”

The reality is that, rather than replacing us, AI can be used to enhance the emotional intelligence that makes us human. After all, businesses are created and run by people, for people, so human emotions such as feeling empowered and connected, having empathy for others and taking pride in a job well done are always going to play a major role in business success—and something AI can’t remotely replicate.

Of course, AI’s efficiency improvements for your organization will almost certainly cause changes to the roles within your workforce that could require upskilling or reskilling efforts. In the meantime, AI could help smooth that path forward by helping you create flexible scheduling options to accommodate employee life issues, spot concerning trends to address burnout and streamline collaboration and reporting for more purposeful work.

Misconception: AI is expensive and time-consuming to execute.

Actual benefit: The long-term ROI of implementing AI outweighs short-term disruptions. 

Implementing AI for your small to medium-sized business may seem daunting, but resisting this technology could end up costing you more than you might realize in terms of lagging productivity and market competitiveness.

The organizational efficiencies gained through AI can greatly offset the cost of implementation. And while it may take a while to get everyone up to speed on the new technology, making that time investment will greatly boost business growth in the long run.

For HR teams specifically, AI tools can help enhance the entire HR lifecycle, from identifying talent needs to finding the most effective ways to attract new talent while keeping existing talent engaged and satisfied. AI can also help your team become more knowledgeable and efficient, resulting in better decision-making and improved business outcomes.

Misconception: Using AI is risky for HR.

Actual benefit: AI’s full potential can be safely leveraged with the right data security and privacy safeguards.

As with any new technology, accuracy, data privacy and security are going to be top-of-mind issues for any organization deploying AI tools—and for HR teams, that will mean prioritizing the safety of sensitive employee and company information.

Establishing strong cybersecurity guidelines is critical to ensuring employee confidence and preventing potentially disastrous data breaches. Actions can include implementing cybersecurity measures such as encryption and access controls to protect data along with employee security awareness training and threat intelligence to help protect against adversarial AI manipulation.

In addition, some organizations are committing to the ethical and responsible use of AI by partnering with organizations such as the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), a global nonprofit organization focused on exploring the challenges posed by technological innovation, including AI, and developing privacy protections, ethical norms, and workable business practices.

The benefits of AI in HR for leaner teams are within your reach

For small to medium-sized businesses, deploying AI and GenAI can be a challenge, but there’s no doubt these powerful tools are changing business and HR functions at lightning speed—and doing nothing is no longer an option. Future business success will rely on HR’s embrace of this new technology to boost productivity and efficiency, deliver an excellent employee experience, and manage data securely and ethically in the years ahead.

Ellin McHarg is a product marketing manager and member of the UKG Ready team, where she focuses on creating engaging and informative content that provides SMBs with a better understanding of how the Ready suite can deliver value for their leaner organizations.

Written by: Ellin McHarg

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