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Entry-level HR roles at risk of automation

Entry level HR jobs are among those at the highest risk of automation, according to new research from HR qualification company Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR).

Based on the complexity and repetitiveness of HR roles, its research identified nearly 20 positions that are at high risk of automation.

These included HR officer (rated somewhat complex and somewhat repetitive), HR administrator (somewhat complex and highly repetitive) and HR helpdesk (not complex and highly repetitive).

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Without awareness of the roles most vulnerable to automation, people teams could run the risk of losing valuable knowledge.

Speaking to HR magazine, HR Most Influential practitioner Neil Morrison, HR director at Severn Trent Water, said: “In the past coming up through the ranks meant that HR leaders understood the shopfloor implications of their strategy and whilst the mindless application of the Ulrich model went a long way to creating a knowledge gap, thoughtless automation could push it beyond return.

“We are dealing, by definition, with humans, and their needs don’t always fall into simple automatable categories. So, until mainstream AI application progresses significantly there is a risk that we lose sight of the basic needs of our workforce and damage engagement.”

Automation of repetitive HR tasks is necessary and, Morrison said, will encourage teams to make more of their strengths.

He added: “It feels both logical and in the best interests of employees and HR teams to automate tasks that can be more efficiently and accurately done that way and to free up people within the HR team to focus on aspects which do need human intervention.”

As automation is inevitable Fiona McKee, director of HR consultancy The HR Practice, said it will simply change the shape of entry level HR roles.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “I think there will still be a need for entry level roles within HR but the job content will be very different. Currently, entry level HR positions tend to involve lots of repetitive, data entry type activity which could easily be automated. 

“AI will drive the development of a new HR entry level role which will involve more interesting work that will truly add value to the business. Activities such as analysing data to make informed decisions on things like the type of benefits that should be introduced as well as identifying the likelihood of key talent leaving the business, will be part of the new HR role.”

The roles deemed at the lowest risk of automation included chief HR/people officer (highly complex, not repetitive) head of D&I and head of talent (both non-routine and complex).

Automation in these roles is set to strengthen the impact of senior level HR. 

McKee added: “Automation gives an opportunity for senior HR professionals to review the type of activities required for each role within the HR department. 

“These types of insights can only improve the employee experience and support senior HR professionals in developing an effective long term people strategy.”