One of the biggest technological advancements in our culture nowadays is artificial intelligence and automation through robotics. We have seen how this is affecting the loss of manufacturing jobs and how in almost every aspect of our lives, there is always something to be replaced by the ‘infiltrated’ technology. Therefore, it is realistic to assume that the digitalization and the constant evolution of technology will change the way we work.
According to the 2017 Talent Trends Report released by Randstad Sourceright, HR is now in the era of digitalization. 39% of leaders believe digitalization of HR will have a great influence on business, and 71% say talent analytics play a critical role in sourcing, attracting, engaging, and retaining talent.
If you have watched the movie “Passengers” you probably remember Arthur, the robot spaceship bartender. Arthur was programmed to make drinks for his customers, anticipating their needs and listening to their concerns while they were at the bar. During his discussions with the passengers, he was asked to keep a secret. And that’s when human nature becomes a tricky thing for a robot to puzzle out. Do you think he kept it? 😉
Watching Arthur, the master robot-bartender, made me wonder if ultimately, artificial intelligence will go so far in human resources. I believe it can, but only in some business areas. Read further if you want to know some interesting examples on this subject.
Robotic process automation (RPA) works at the user interface level where countless repetitive processes are taken over by software bots. For example, the significant amount of data entry and other repeated processes involved in onboarding new employees could be efficiently carried out by robotic process automation (RPA), freeing up skilled professionals to take on more complex tasks. Some progressive HR teams have already put RPA bots to use to help them with validating internal data against external databases, running and distributing reports, and replacing manual data in spreadsheets. This approach translates into two reasons why HR should trust working with robots.
Introducing an RPA in HR can play a successful role in applicant sourcing, payroll, data entry, maintenance, and cleansing, as well as tracking attendance and people analytics. Institute for Robotic Process Automation estimates that using an RPA in HR would result in a cost reduction of 25% – 50% and a significant time reduction, as bots don’t need their eight hours of sleep a night – they can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For example, when I flew with Norwegian Airlines from Stockholm to Los Angeles, I checked my 30 lbs bag myself. No employee was there to print my boarding pass, lift my bag or let it go in the cabin. All was done by a robot. Do you want to know how much it costs for a two-way ticket on this route? $400 for economy class and approx. $1,270 for the premium class. Those are competitive prices…
In many business contexts, robots can deliver what people can’t. Martin Ford, author of “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future”, mentions that a company in San Francisco designed a robot that can make 400 hamburgers per hour. These “superpowers” are also used in surveillance, healthcare, HR, and even creative jobs, like writing. Robots can’t replace your boss, but they can pay close attention to what you are doing. In a Gartner’s study, more than 3 million US workers will be supervised by a robot boss by 2018, which will check if the employees are clocking in on time, work their shift, etc. All these applications lead to increased productivity in different departments, which translates into higher profits.
Robots are more likely to replace activities within jobs and not the job itself. Creativity, emotional intelligence, and cognitive flexibility are skills that will tap human potential and allow people to augment robots, rather than be replaced by them. On the other hand, every time you come up with a precise and specialized task for a robot, a person is needed to implement and maintain it
However, there is one challenge that cannot be overlooked. The HR department needs to understand the broad range of skills needed by someone who works with robots. Working with robots requires an interdisciplinary approach, and it will be hard to assign candidates to only one particular ‘job title’. Many of the skills required to work with robots will have to be cross-cutting, and specialists will need to know how to handle multi-disciplinary systems.
More precisely, people working with them need to understand mechanics, electronics, programming, and math. Also, they need to have sharp analytical thinking and problem-solving skills in order to analyze the challenges that appear from various angles. Working with robots might seem pretty hard, especially because both technical and soft skills are required.
If you’re in charge of hiring people to work with robots, you might wonder how are you supposed to efficiently determine if a candidate has all these different skills? You could consider customizing skills assessments that have questions covering all these various fields. With eSkill, which offers a customizable test platform, you can combine and customize questions from multiple subject areas into a single job-based test, or deploy your own tests and questions relevant to the role.
For example, to test for a robotics engineer, you could create an assessment test with questions on mechanical reasoning, math, programming skills and critical thinking…plus add your own pertinent questions. Using such a job-based test would allow you to identify well-rounded candidates using an automated, intelligent assessment process that conforms to EEOC guidelines.
Has your employer implemented an RPA? Let us know in the comments if so, and how you feel it’s made your job easier (or not).