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The Rise of Robotics and Why HR Should Trust It

Posted by Eric Friedman


the rise of robotics

One of the biggest technological advancements in our culture nowadays is artificial intelligence and automation through robotics. We have seen how this is affecting the loss of manufacturing jobs and how in almost every aspect of our lives, there is always something to be replaced by the ‘infiltrated’ technology. Therefore, it is realistic to assume that the digitalization and the constant evolution of technology will change the way we work.

According to the 2017 Talent Trends Report released by Randstad Sourceright, HR is now in the era of digitalization. 39% of leaders believe digitalization of HR will have a great influence on business, and 71% say talent analytics play a critical role in sourcing, attracting, engaging, and retaining talent.

If you have watched the movie “Passengers” you probably remember Arthur, the robot spaceship bartender. Arthur was programmed to make drinks for his customers, anticipating their needs and listening to their concerns while they were at the bar. During his discussions with the passengers, he was asked to keep a secret. And that’s when human nature becomes a tricky thing for a robot to puzzle out. Do you think he kept it? ;-)

Watching Arthur, the master robot-bartender, made me wonder if ultimately, artificial intelligence will go so far in human resources. I believe it can, but only in some business areas. Read further if you want to know some interesting examples on this subject.

Two reasons to Trust an RPA in HR

Robotic process automation (RPA) works at the user interface level where countless repetitive processes are taken over by software bots.  For example, the significant amount of data entry and other repeated processes involved in onboarding new employees could be efficiently carried out by robotic process automation (RPA), freeing up skilled professionals to take on more complex tasks. Some progressive HR teams have already put RPA bots to use to help them with validating internal data against external databases, running and distributing reports, and replacing manual data in spreadsheets. This approach translates into two reasons why HR should trust working with robots.

  1. Cost and Time Reduction of 25% – 50%

Introducing an RPA in HR can play a successful role in applicant sourcing, payroll, data entry, maintenance, and cleansing, as well as tracking attendance and people analytics. Institute for Robotic Process Automation estimates that using an RPA in HR would result in a cost reduction of 25% – 50% and a significant time reduction, as bots don’t need their eight hours of sleep a night – they can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For example, when I flew with Norwegian Airlines from Stockholm to Los Angeles, I checked my 30 lbs bag myself. No employee was there to print my boarding pass, lift my bag or let it go in the cabin. All was done by a robot. Do you want to know how much it costs for a two-way ticket on this route? $400 for economy class and approx. $1,270 for the premium class.  Those are competitive prices…

  1. Increased Productivity and Superpowers.

In many business contexts, robots can deliver what people can’t. Martin Ford, author of “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future”, mentions that a company in San Francisco designed a robot that can make 400 hamburgers per hour. These “superpowers” are also used in surveillance, healthcare, HR, and even creative jobs, like writing. Robots can’t replace your boss, but they can pay close attention to what you are doing. In a Gartner’s study, more than 3 million US workers will be supervised by a robot boss by 2018, which will check if the employees are clocking in on time, work their shift, etc. All these applications lead to increased productivity in different departments, which translates into higher profits.

#1 Challenge for the HR Department

Robots are more likely to replace activities within jobs and not the job itself. Creativity, emotional intelligence, and cognitive flexibility are skills that will tap human potential and allow people to augment robots, rather than be replaced by them. On the other hand, every time you come up with a precise and specialized task for a robot, a person is needed to implement and maintain it

However, there is one challenge that cannot be overlooked. The HR department needs to understand the broad range of skills needed by someone who works with robots. Working with robots requires an interdisciplinary approach, and it will be hard to assign candidates to only one particular ‘job title’. Many of the skills required to work with robots will have to be cross-cutting, and specialists will need to know how to handle multi-disciplinary systems.

More precisely, people working with them need to understand mechanics, electronics, programming, and math. Also, they need to have sharp analytical thinking and problem-solving skills in order to analyze the challenges that appear from various angles. Working with robots might seem pretty hard, especially because both technical and soft skills are required.

If you’re in charge of hiring people to work with robots, you might wonder how are you supposed to efficiently determine if a candidate has all these different skills?  You could consider customizing skills assessments that have questions covering all these various fields. With eSkill, which offers a customizable test platform, you can combine and customize questions from multiple subject areas into a single job-based test, or deploy your own tests and questions relevant to the role.

For example, to test for a robotics engineer, you could create an assessment test with questions on mechanical reasoning, math, programming skills and critical thinking…plus add your own pertinent questions. Using such a job-based test would allow you to identify well-rounded candidates using an automated, intelligent assessment process that conforms to EEOC guidelines.

Has your employer implemented an RPA?  Let us know in the comments if so, and how you feel it’s made your job easier (or not).

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About Eric Friedman

Author

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of Web-based skills testing for pre-employment and training. With academic degrees in Psychology and Business, and experience with both mature and expansion-stage company growth, Eric has focused on how best to hire and motivate team members to be the best they can be for their companies.

4 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Christian April, 12, 2017

    I recently bought a $62 Amazon Echo, Alexa. It turns off my TV, sets the home alarm, turns the downstairs lights off, sets the thermostat to 66 degrees turns the bedroom lights on, and looks at my calendar for the next day and sets my wake-up alarm accordingly. In the morning when the alarm goes off, Alexa can tell me the traffic report and the day’s weather report, and turn on my kitchen lights and coffee machine! It is amazing what AI can do.

  • Jayna April, 12, 2017

    Robots will take care of the elderly and patients in homes and hospitals. Self-driving cars will take us where we want to go. Parcels will be delivered by drones. And our refrigerator will submit orders directly to the store, after which groceries will be delivered automatically by a nonhuman device. It is scary, but we need to embrace AI in our business and personal lives.

  • Dillan April, 12, 2017

    It will be a challenge for HR to keep ahead of this particular curve, seeing the issues and implications, particularly as younger employees begin to ask serious questions about their future job security.

  • juneuniversum April, 21, 2017

    While many people fear that the rise of robots will impact their jobs, HR professionals think advances in robotics and automation technology will actually be beneficial to employees and companies. Over three-quarters of human resource respondents agreed that work is not where you are, but rather what you get done. To boost productivity and help employees get more done, HR professionals believe installing automation and smart technology can help. In fact, 41 percent consider that outcome to be the most worthy of investing in new technology.

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