The mere mention of AI creates waves of fear and overwhelm for most. The unknown, the continual change, the constant fire hose of information and the technical jargon is terrifying. Historically HR professionals have been risk-adverse and slow to change their traditional processes or adopt technology. This must change because accessible AI is changing the shape of industries, business structures and roles.

‘If someone said every one of your employees can have an executive assistant, with no extra staff cost, how more productive could your workplace be?’

In my opinion the role of HR in the modern world is to attract, retain and develop talent. We want our people to remain relevant and to maximise their performance while avoiding unnecessary risk. Ultimately supporting the senior leaders and business owners to execute their business plan. I believe that accessible AI can elevate the HR function from ‘nice to have’ to ‘critically important’ providing that craved seat at the table many HR professionals have been yearning for. 

Successful integration of ’assessable AI’ multiplies the impact HR has on small to medium businesses. 

(RISK + PERFORMANCE) x AI = HR impact on your business 

Here are the five reasons why HR must lead your assessable AI integration strategy: 

  1. Culture: HR plays a big role as the custodian of business culture. To encourage wholesale technological change through AI, it must be immersed in your culture and HR holds the key to open this door. 
  2. Structural change: ChatGPT (which in my opinion signalled the start of the accessible AI era) was released late 2022 and by the end of the first quarter of 2023 we started structuring businesses differently at wattsnext. Functional structures are changing as traditional inhouse functions can be replaced or made considerably more efficient. 
  3. Role changes: With complete business functions removed and efficiency gains of up to 80% some roles are unrecognisable. Traditional roles that haven’t changed for decades can no longer be relied upon and completely new roles are emerging. 
  4. Learning & development: Learning is forever, and everyone needs to rebuild their knowledge base to thrive in the modern world. HR can lead the continual improvement and embracing of accessible AI from graduate programmes to lunch and learns, education and re-education is critical. AI is the launch pad for career growth. 
  5. Policy: And by policy, I mean encouragement over restriction, generally inviting experimentation over mastery. Encourage people to try, test, share and play with the amazing AI tools being created daily. Arrange hack-a-thon’s where problems can be solved and time saving practices shared. Instead of pushing employees to work harder and longer, we should encourage smarter AI lead innovation.

‘Small to medium business must embrace accessible AI and HR should be leading the way.’

Industries are being completely disrupted, roles permanently altered or removed and new roles rapidly emerging. Putting your head in the sand is not an option. Who in your workplace is assessing the new AI tools being created daily? Do you have a strategy to get ahead of the curve? 

We need to remove the barriers, maximise each employee’s output, re-educate our team members and encourage experimentation and AI lead continual improvement. We need our employees to collaborate with AI and drive better outcomes!

The AI tsunami is moving incredibly fast and to remain competitive we must look at business differently. I think HR holds the key!

Author: Ben Watts
Ben is a veteran in the HR space- a forward-thinking leader specialising in functional business structures and people performance techniques. With twenty years’ experience managing large ASX listed corporates across multiple industries, Ben adds depth and expertise to our clients' strategy solutions, genuinely providing a commercial result for their investment.