Reskilling HR in the age of AI

To properly utilize AI, HR professionals must first reskill and upskill themselves in this nascent technology, says Jo Naylor

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Aug 7, 2023

There’s no doubting the fact AI will transform the way we work. It will automate key tasks, increase the information available for decision-making and lead to the creation of many more new jobs that leverage AI technologies.

Rather than being a replacement for human talent, AI is best thought of as tool that can help everyone, including HR practitioners, to be more effective through providing support and freeing up time for more valuable tasks.

But here’s the question – who’s going to reskill HR in the age of AI?

HR practitioners can’t let this technology arrive and just hope for the best.

They will need to both upskill and reskill to prepare for the age of AI. They will need to focus on how they can effectively use AI technologies in the HR function as well as lead the organisation through AI-driven transformation.

That’s a lot to take in!

How can HR begin to respond?

Recent CRF research found that just 9% of senior HR leaders thought their HR Business Partners were currently highly competent at using and applying new technologies.

This is a shockingly now number considering AI will help automate and streamline the more repetitive and administrative HR tasks that HR professionals have long been moaning about.

Awareness and understanding around AI technology will have to change. For as well as handling payroll and employee records and addressing routine enquiries, it’s new Generative AI (GenAI) tools – those that are capable of creating brand new content – that will be particularly transformative.

GenAI has the potential to create personalised career development plans for employees based on their skills, interests and performance data. Other areas GenAI can help include writing job descriptions, screening candidates, or reviewing a training text or a job posting according to the organisation’s DEI policies.

 So HR practitioners will need to be aware of the latest AI developments and how they can leverage these.

But the skills HR professionals will need to be future-ready in the age of AI will go far beyond even this.

AI will transform the organisation and ways of working, automating tasks and providing valuable insights that can help organisations to proactively address challenges.

HR professionals will need to play a vital role in leading the organisation through this transformative change.

They must actively engage in identifying skills gaps; they must design effective training strategies; and they must also facilitate a smooth transition for employees as they embrace new roles that leverage AI technologies.

Here are the four key areas practitioners will need to focus on, in order to achieve their reskilling and upskilling:

Technological awareness:

HR practitioners will need to have a good awareness of emerging AI technologies and how these can be used effectively. This could include prompt engineering, fact-checking and verifying AI-generated content.

HR will also need to be aware of and mitigate privacy, accuracy and ethics concerns, such as potentially plagiarized or biased results that GenAI may produce. HR practitioners will additionally need to work closely with AI experts, and will likely develop a similarly close relationship with technological officers as they currently have with finance officers.

Change management:

Technology-driven transformation will need to be an integrated change management process led by HR professionals.

In order to lead this change process in a way that maintains the employee brand and experience, the HR function will need be skilled at problem diagnosis, facilitation and influencing stakeholders.

Job and work design:

AI-led automation of work will create new opportunities to deconstruct jobs into their constituent tasks and reconfigure roles in ways that increase productivity and make jobs more meaningful for humans.

HR professionals should capitalise on these opportunities through polishing their job and work design skills, ensuring that they are able to take a step back and consider how the design of work needs to change, and analyse work design at a ‘task’ rather than ‘role’ level.

Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP):

AI is likely to require businesses to significantly restructure and reposition itself. The HR function will need to be skilled in SWP to help their organisations through this uncertain and rapidly changing context, helping the business to approach change, explore different scenarios and plan for different contingencies.

Data analytics capabilities and the ability to engage stakeholders will be particularly important for this.


HR practitioners need to be prepared for the age of AI on two levels: understanding and implementing new developments in the AI space to make HR more effective, and leading the organisation’s preparation for technology and AI-driven transformation.

So how can HR professionals prepare?

First, consider how to develop your technology skills, perhaps through taking a prompt engineering course or partnering with AI experts in your own organisation.

Second, seek out ways of getting involved in change projects outside your day-to-day role, to build your experience and expertise in leading transformation.

Do both these things, and you will be well on your way to ensuring you don’t get let behind by AI.

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