One third of HR roles at risk of automation

Data analysis will become a core element of all HR roles, predicts the study

Almost a third of HR roles are at risk of being replaced by robots, according to a study commissioned by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower and the Institute for Human Resource Professionals.

Researchers from Willis Towers Watson analysed 27 HR roles and found that 24 would be impacted by technology to some degree over the next three to five years.

Eight of these roles are at risk of high degrees of automation, including administrative roles within talent management, performance, reward and organisation development.

The research predicts that the remaining 16 jobs would be augmented by technology, at manager and head of department levels. However, HR professionals will need to build skills in areas such as data analytics to reap these benefits.

Just three jobs will not be majorly affected by automation, according to Willis Towers Watson. These are head of talent management, HR business partner and manager of organisation development.

The study also predicted that new HR roles would be created through the proliferation of technology, including specialised roles such as HR data analyst. It added that analytics skills will be core to every role, rather than being a separate function.

“With the pandemic affecting business operations and profitability, more organisations are beginning to adopt technology to reinvent jobs and tasks, as well as use a wider talent ecosystem to deliver work in a cost-effective way,” said Vidisha Mehta, head of talent & rewards for Willis Towers Watson Singapore.

“Jobs are being redesigned to deliver higher value-add to manage economic pressures, demographic shifts and workforce expectation for purposeful work. To deliver on these expectations, the HR function in an organisation plays an important role and will need to embrace technology on a large scale to enable businesses to transform.”

While the study was carried out to look at the potential impact of automation on the evolution of HR in Singapore, the research included analysis of HR job profiles from the US, UK and Sweden. It covered more than 180,000 job postings, 2.5 million professional profiles and 2.5 million job transitions in these countries.

Researchers offered five key recommendations for HR professionals to build their careers as automation increases:

  • Enhance jobs through redesign, lead strategic workforce planning and become an “internal change champion” for transformation;
  • equip the workforce with future skills, identifying emerging skills gaps and driving re-skilling;
  • build consumer-grade experiences, designing talent journeys and leveraging technology;
  • digitalise HR, building an integrated technology roadmap; and
  • drive data-based decision making across the business.

Mayank Parekh, CEO of Institute for Human Resource Professionals, said the study confirmed a “seismic shift in the HR landscape”.

“HR professionals need to acquire the skills to grasp technologies that will enable them to develop and implement innovative people practices for their organisations,” he said.

“Digital acumen will also enable HR to understand how technical skills fit into the workplace and therefore better support organisations that embark on digitalisation to unlock greater business value.

HR can lead the way to evaluate the many emerging options for getting work done both within and outside HR, and determine how best to combine human talent and automation.”

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