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HR falls behind employees in embracing AI

A third (35%) of HR departments reported being involved in discussions with senior leadership about AI adoption

More than two thirds (68%) of HR professionals have not embraced the full potential for AI, a report by HR insights provider Brightmine has shown (29 May).

A quarter (24%) of HR departments had not been at all involved in conversations about adopting AI technology with senior leaders, according to Brightmine's research.

A separate report by Deloitte (30 May) showed that the number of UK employees using AI at work increased by 66% in the last year, from 4 million in 2023 to 7 million in 2024.

Scott Walker, CEO at Brightmine, said that HR should be ahead of employees in understanding new technology such as AI.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “According to our research, just 20% of HR employees have received AI training of any kind. For a tool that promises – and has already started – to revolutionise the way we work, this level of education is critically low. 

“It is especially important that HR understands AI’s potential. They should be managing the organisation through the pressures and demands of evolving workplace technologies and proactively anticipating the impact on culture and employee effectiveness.

“If AI isn’t completely understood, it cannot be used to its full potential.”

HR was among the top three sectors that received government grants for AI innovation, analysis from AI and analytics software provider SAS found in February 2024. This suggests that HR needs support in implementing, rather than investing in, AI. 

Read more: HR among top sectors to benefit from government AI grants, data reveals 

However, HR professionals recognised that AI could improve their departments. Nearly three quarters (74%) of HR departments named administrative or repetitive tasks as an area where AI could add value; 59% identified that AI could help with data and analytics. 

Brightmine's survey showed that HR spent 20% of its time on administrative tasks and 5% on collecting or analysing HR data.

Annabel Joseph, director of people at HR software business Applaud, told HR magazine that AI could help HR professionals meet the increasing demands of their job.

She said: “AI can be a game-changer for HR in today’s demanding and notoriously under-resourced environment. 

“By reducing the burden of administrative tasks, AI can not only boost HR efficiency but also contribute to a happier and healthier workforce by minimising the stress associated with excessive workloads.”

The HR departments surveyed by Brightmine named their top AI goals as improving employee experience (23%), saving employee time (18%) and reducing workload (18%).

Read more: How can HR integrate new digital tools?

Joseph suggested that using AI to automate time-consuming tasks could leave HR with more time to focus on other areas of their job.

She added: “With workloads on the rise, AI-powered HR systems can automate time-consuming tasks like annual leave requests and answer employee questions around benefits, for example.

“This frees up time for HR professionals to focus on more strategic tasks, such as employee relations and learning and development.” 

HR professionals should improve their digital literacy to reap the full benefits of AI, Walker commented.

Joseph added that building teams with strong technical skills can create a system for effective AI integration.

She said: “HR professionals can deepen their understanding of AI by educating themselves on its capabilities and benefits, advocating for its adoption, and embracing new tech-driven operating models. 

“Building a team with strong technical skills and establishing structures to manage AI safely are essential steps. Human management is crucial to ensure that AI outputs align with company ethics and accuracy. 

“By leveraging AI for enhanced engagement and personalisation, HR can significantly improve their processes and functionality.”


Brightmine surveyed 185 HR departments, representing more than 272,966 employees, in March 2024. Deloitte surveyed 4,150 UK adults aged 16 to 75 in April 2024, for its Digital Consumer Trends report.