Most HR leaders aren’t putting AI to work (yet), survey shows

Nearly two-thirds of HR teams have yet to embrace artificial intelligence in their operations, according to a recent HRE survey about what’s keeping HR up at night. More than 60% of respondents shared that HR teams at their organizations aren’t using AI and its counterpart, gen AI, for any functions, including talent sourcing, interviewing, onboarding, learning and managing employee leave.

- Advertisement -

HRE’s annual What’s Keeping HR Up at Night? survey included detailed questions relating to artificial intelligence for the first time. The results provide perspective on how new generative AI functions impact the priorities of HR leaders when viewed in the context of their biggest concerns.

Related: What’s keeping HR leaders up right now? It’s not just retention

New year, new HR tech skills

As AI continues to advance, some of the more than 360 respondents expressed a growing need for upskilling employees, particularly those engaged in routine tasks that could be automated. The survey results express the pace of integration of AI into HR tech practices, highlighting a potential missed opportunity for organizations to streamline processes and reevaluate the roles of some administrative staff.

- Advertisement -

The challenge lies in determining the most effective methods to develop and repurpose talent in 2024, equipping employees with the necessary skills and confidence for yet-unseen transitions. There’s a need to “focus on improving business operational efficiency with leveraging automation and digitization of certain key functional areas,” wrote one participant. “As we deploy this, reskilling our workforce will be critical in ensuring success.”

Another participant suggested that the conventional mantra of “doing more with less” is being reevaluated, and its shelf life has expired. This person is concerned that as AI relieves administrative staff of mundane tasks, its implementation may exacerbate rather than rectify workforce misalignment.

a chart showing percent of HR departments that leveraged AIWorkforce tech emerges as a pivotal factor in numerous organizational initiatives linked to digital strategy. The survey results highlight the negative impact of “clunky internal systems,” which one respondent blames for driving away key staff and creating a perception of reluctance to invest in essential back-office functions. This year could lead to some improvement, with around 25% responding that their organizations are planning to improve employee experience and retain talent by investing in HR tech in the next 12 months.

Top HR tech priorities

HRIS, external recruitment and performance management ranked as the top HR tech tools most useful for HR teams, with onboarding and core HR also high on the list. Many respondents shared that their organizations need solutions for compensation planning, upskilling/reskilling, compensation planning and people analytics. “We stopped investing in improvements in technology, training, processes, etc. during COVID and are now seeing the ramifications—so much to catch up on,” according to one respondent. 

Despite holes in the HR tech stack, slow adoption of the newest technologies isn’t a focus for most professionals surveyed. Less than 9% consider “managing HR technology, including gen AI and related new rules” one of their top challenges over the past year. Hiring and retaining key talent still reigns as the supreme concern for HR leaders.

Steve Boese, HR Tech Conference chair
HR Tech Conference Chair Steve Boese

However, many of the high-ranking pain points—such as talent acquisition, learning, upskilling and manager training—are ones that HR tech promises to solve. Most of these tools now incorporate artificial intelligence, making AI a more natural inclusion rather than one that will require attention and resources.

As HRE expert and HR Tech Conference Chair Steve Boese points out in a recent column, many of the best platforms use AI to simplify complex technologies and “make them understandable and usable to HR professionals and employee end users, without such users having to possess any kind of advanced understanding of AI.”

Jill Barth
Jill Barth is HR Tech Editor of Human Resource Executive. She is an award-winning journalist with bylines in Forbes, USA Today and other international publications. With a background in communications, media, B2B ecommerce and the workplace, she also served as a consultant with Gallagher Benefit Services for nearly a decade. Reach out at [email protected].