The Complete Automation of HR: It May Be Here Sooner Than You Think

© Jaros -
© Jaros -

I love my friends in human resources, but I am just back from a week in Vegas where a bunch of people told me that HR can be automated.

I think that’s probably right.

When you go to Burger King, it’s a pre-recorded voice that asks you if you’re satisfried. Did you know that voice recognition software can accurately detect your order better than a cranky, distracted employee who hates his job? And it’s not that difficult to whip up a batch of fries. Almost all of the cooking is done through machines and instruments.

Imagine what can happen in your personnel department if we apply that thinking to your job. You’re on borrowed time, yo. Anyone can fill out a payroll change request form.

What’s wrong with HR that caused this?

Now listen, I am not rooting for the elimination of human resources because I want the people I love to earn a paycheck; however, I think HR follows the 1 percent/99 percent division we have in society. That is 1 percent of human resources professionals do important, essential work. And there’s the 99 percent that does a mix of work — some interesting and some not — and will be subject to redundancies in the near future.

So what’s wrong with human resources that pushed us to this inflexion point? Here’s a short list.

  • Too many guys in leadership roles. Not enough women running the show.
  • Too many white people in positions of power. Lots of black women who are in charge of diversity because, you know, they are black.
  • For all the whining about compliance and bureaucracy, nobody in HR seems to have solved for compliance and bureaucracy conundrums.
  • Most HR departments aren’t likable.
  • Recruiting is a pain and they use and like it’s in the ’90s.
  • HR mistakes proximity to power for power itself.

When I look at that list, I feel bad. I like white guys. I’m married to one. And it’s fair to say that my list actually mirrors much of our workforce. But the difference between human resources and IT is that most people feel like they need technology.

Nobody needs the BS that comes with human resources.

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Understanding the technology

And a majority of entrepreneurs only think about investing in HR when they reach $5MM in revenue and/or 50 employees. If they can automate and streamline people-related processes, they will.

So if you work in human resources, I would like you to start thinking about how you can get closer to the 1 percent.

  1. I don’t think social media is the key differentiator.
  2. You won’t wow anyone with another set of HR-related credentials.

You might want to think about understand the technology that’s about to upset your apple cart. If you know your enemy, you can destroy it.

And you might just keep your job.

Find more from Laurie Ruettimann at her blog, The Cynical Girlwhere this first appeared.

Laurie Ruettimann is a former human resources leader turned writer, entrepreneur, and speaker. She is also author of Betting on You: How to Put Yourself First and (Finally) Take Control of Your Career.

CNN has recognized Laurie as one of the top five career advisors in the United States, and her work has been featured on NPR, The New YorkerUSA TodayThe Wall Street Journal, and Vox. Laurie frequently delivers keynote speeches at business and management events around the world and hosts the popular podcast Punk Rock HR. She lives with her husband and cats in Raleigh, N.C.