HR: Why the human touch matters even more in the age of AI

AI vs Human expertise in HR

Imagine HR – Human Resources – without humans at the wheel: no person-to-person contact, but instead, AI-to-person interfaces redefining HR as we know it.

Could AI be better than humans at HR?

The applications and uses of generative AI technology (OpenAI ChatGPT, DALL-E, and more) are so extensive that you may truly begin to wonder: do we need humans at the head of HR? Why not speed things up and automate our processes with AI?

These are legitimate questions, of course. So first, let’s dive into why you might want AI intervention in your HR processes.

Applications of AI in HR

1.      Recruitment

It begins with recruitment, where AI goes through resumes, evaluates them, and even conducts personality assessments.

2.      Onboarding and offboarding

Then, AI can even take over employee onboarding and offboarding procedures. How? By guiding employees through the onboarding and offboarding procedures through AI platforms. AI also manages exit surveys and the dutiful return of company equipment.

3.      Performance tracking

Once a worker is employed, AI can even carry out performance reviews by tracking and analyzing performance through established metrics such as tasks completed, feedback received and involvement in the workplace.

4.      Workforce management

Need to ensure that your workforce is in line with your growth plans and industry trends? AI can carry out workforce planning for you.

5.      Employee portals

And what if your employees have any questions about their remaining annual leaves? Through HR chatbots and AI assistants, AI can once again intervene.

This set of competencies is enough to make even the most proficient HR professionals shake in their boots. Not only is AI faster in most instances, it will also make fewer, or even no mistakes at all when processing data sets.

But why then are we saying that the human touch matters even more?

Why the human touch will always have its place in HR

Being a human-centric, but very much technologically inclined HR service provider, here is why we think your company will not be able to do without a human touch in its HR matters:

HR is, above all, a human experience

Even aided by AI, there is no replacing the human touch in human resources. Humans are social creatures by nature, always seeking each other out.

Besides, there is no substitute for a friendly face on an employee’s first day of work. There is no technology that could ever tell a newcomer to look out for a squeaky office chair or explain to them the very specific ways in which the coffee machine works.

Even more importantly, there is no replacement for the relief you feel when your HR contact person picks up the phone and you can finally explain the issue you are facing in detail – knowing that, by the end of that call, you will have a solution fully tailored to your very specific needs.

The human touch beyond borders

There is perhaps no situation better suited to show the importance of the human touch than the international HR scene.

In a foreign country, all the rules change. This applies to both local legislation and far less easily defined local customs and informal practices. The human touch is crucial to success during expansion efforts, as employees need to feel heard and understood. Who better to do that than a local expert who can pick up on the subtleties and particularities of the culture – and help you, in turn, to gracefully navigate them?

During expansion projects, good intercultural communication and understanding equals to far greater chances of success. And so far, AI cannot do that.

Lack of emotional intelligence  

AI shows a distinct lack of empathy and emotional intelligence.

It is easy enough to make rational decisions, to choose between a “Yes” and a “No”. But anything that requires more greyness, that goes beyond a black-and-white sense of logic is deeply problematic for AI.

That is because, as it is, AI has no EQ.

In matters of HR, emotional intelligence is particularly important to defuse emotionally-charged situations, to make employees feel heard and understood, and to instill a vital sense of belonging and community – the very one that keeps employees loyal to the company and lowers turnover rates.

Lack of fairness

New generative AI is trained on large data sets found all across the internet. As such, AI picks up on the biases and discriminatory behavior found in its original data sets. When put to use, AI then expresses these very same biases.

Sexist biases

Consider this example provided by UNESCO:

When searching for the term “school girl”, it is very likely that you will come across a page of ladies and girls dressed in various highly sexualized outfits. Surprisingly, the majority of the results for “school boy” will be of regular, young school boys. Almost no men, if any, wear sexualized outfits.

Now, imagine this kind of bias in a hiring context, or even within your company’s work environment.

 

Racist and discriminatory biases

The Washington Post reported that during a research project, researchers requested specially trained robots to examine blocks with people’s faces on them, after which a “criminal” would be chosen and placed in a box. The robots would regularly pick the block with a Black man’s face.

 The robots also repeatedly selected blocks with women and people of color in response to terms like “homemaker” and “janitor”.

These types of biases can set your company back by decades and undo all the progress your company has made when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

AI and the future of HR

It is entirely possible that future HR systems will be partly powered by AI, just like how paper-based payroll systems have now evolved into digital ones. In fact, many administrative tasks will likely be handed over to AI because of its speed and accuracy. But just as digital payroll has managed to maintain its human touch, so will AI HR and payroll systems.

As such, humans may not always be needed at the head of HR, but at its heart, humans remain irreplaceable.

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GRANT GERAGHTY - Africa HR Team

GRANT GERAGHTY

HEAD OF CLIENT RELATIONSHIP

Grant Geraghty is the longest-serving member of the Africa HR team. This resident subject matter expert and client champion is responsible for gaining a deep understanding of our clients’ unique HR needs in Africa and providing tailored solutions that align with their business objectives. Grant collaborates closely with our clients to ensure that their requirements are properly implemented, providing ongoing support and guidance throughout the process.

Grant brings a wealth of experience to his role, having served as Africa HR’s longest-serving employee. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, with a major in Economics and Business Finance, from the University of Natal in South Africa. Additionally, he has completed a certification program in Payroll and Tax Administration from the University of Cape Town, further enhancing his expertise in HR operations and compliance.

His commitment to delivering exceptional service and his extensive knowledge of HR in Africa make him an invaluable member of the Africa HR team.

KEVINA TAKOORDYAL Africa HR Team

KEVINA TAKOORDYAL

HEAD OF OPERATIONS

Kevina Takoordyal has a BA Hons Business Management from the University of Glamorgan, UK, with MBA in leadership and Innovation, MBA General, PMP Certified, and Agile Scrum Master. She currently works as the Head of Operations at Africa HR Solutions Ltd with more than 20 years of proven leadership capabilities in Operations, Business Development, People Management, Process Optimization, and Project Management in the Financial Services, BPO, Banking Industry, and Heath Care Industry. In Senior leadership roles with an international footprint across Europe working and extensive Pan- African experience from a compliance, finance, and operations angle, Kevina comes across with a panoply of cross-functional skills. Kevina also serves on a few Boards, Non-Independent Executive at MioD and for NGOs on a voluntary basis, a coach and mentor to aspiring female leaders across Africa and Mauritius.

Kevina is a firm believer in Servant Leadership with a strong focus and commitment to uplifting others, with the ability to deliver through a highly engaged – diverse team, and works towards consistently synergistic value creation. While being a focused and adaptive thinker and Kevina is actively participating in panel discussions on Innovation, CX, Digital transformation.

Kevina serves as Project Assessor for the National Youth upskilling program. She has been recognized as Global Talent in a few companies, Ceridian, and International SOS Ltd whereby she has been awarded a few scholarships and had the opportunity to be mentored by Senior Vice President in the US. Award Winner in various fields and at a national level and recognized including Super Achiever Leader Award in Africa in 2016, Awarded Africa Women Leader 2018.

VILOSHNA PACKIRY POULLE​

VILOSHNA PACKIRY POULLE

Head of Finance & Business Support

Viloshna is an experienced finance professional with 18 years of expertise in strategic financial planning, financial analysis, cash flow management, systems and controls implementation, financial reporting, and continuous process improvements. She currently serves as Head of Finance & Business Support, where she has successfully automated and leveraged the financial reporting system capabilities to ensure efficient company operations.

Viloshna’s background includes senior roles in a multinational pharmaceutical company and a large listed Mauritian conglomerate. Her meticulous attention to detail and strategic thinking have streamlined financial processes, making her a valuable addition to any finance team. Viloshna is a qualified finance professional with an FCCA qualification and an MBA, bringing valuable expertise to any organization.

In her current role, Viloshna leads the company’s Treasury and Payments function, including the fulfillment of the company’s cross-border payments into Africa. With her strong educational background and extensive experience, Viloshna consistently demonstrates her ability to optimize financial operations, minimize risks, and improve profitability. Her expertise in financial reporting and process improvements make her a valuable asset to any organization.

MARK DU PREEZ​

MARK DU PREEZ

Head of Legal & Compliance

A qualified lawyer who joined Africa HR Solutions in July 2020, Mark Du Preez has experience working in private practice for a reputable law firm in South Africa. He also played commercially focused roles at a leading private bank, wealth management company, and outsourcing firm in South Africa and Mauritius.

Mark has played a pivotal role in Africa HR Solution’s risk mitigation strategy, which positively impacted P&L performance over the years.

He currently leads the Partnerships function of the company including relationships and oversight with in-country partners (ICPs) across Africa.

Alex Daruty - Africa HR Team

ALEX DARUTY

Head of Commercial

Alex has more than 15 years of experience in the global, strategic development of both enterprise and consumer brands in categories including technology, transport, enterprise software, entertainment, and travel.

With experience in roles on both agency and corporate side, he has worked across international brands and has led the development and execution of multi-discipline campaigns across EMEA, NORAM and Asia Pacific.

His focus is on driving meaningful business impact through brand differentiation and building high-functioning, digitally oriented, and analytically driven capabilities. He is motivated by working with, and developing dynamic people, teams, and organizations.

He leads, manages, develops and mentors the Key Account Management department, including line management responsibility for the team of Key Account Managers and Key Account Administrator who represent the Company as the primary communication link between all relevant stakeholders, including clients, third party in-country partners and internal functions.

Originally from Mauritius, he holds bachelor’s degrees in International Business, Finance and Management from the University of Nevada, Reno.