AI arises: A new era of employee focus and empowerment

A new revolution in the technology-human convergence is creating a new era of employee focus and empowerment.
By: | March 12, 2024

Driven by key global elections, continuing geo-political tensions, and lingering economic uncertainty, a perfect storm is potentially brewing to create a set of unique challenges for organisations in 2024.

Yet, for forward-looking organisations looking to adapt and innovate to meet the demands of customers in typically fast-moving markets, some challenges remain constant, including the need to find, attract, engage, and train the right people, said Steve Boese, President & Co-Founder, H3 HR Advisors.

What will make a difference in 2024, he suggested, is the emergence of a new and powerful set of technologies. “Generative AI has created both new challenges and opportunities for organisations in the pursuit of meeting their talent and customer challenges,” Boese told HRM Magazine Asia. “In 2023, Generative AI emerged as a new and exciting tool that to some people, has almost unlimited potential in domains as diverse as sales and marketing, software engineering, and certainly in HR.”

Describing generative AI as a generational new technology that has the potential to be both important and disruptive for organisations, he added, “The challenge for organisations and HR leaders in 2024, will be to harness and direct these new technologies and capabilities in the most effective and impactful ways to help them and their stakeholders – customers and employees specifically – to succeed in 2024.”

Where the latter is concerned, the onus is on organisational leaders to consider the real impact new technologies might have on their workforces.

“The challenge for organisations and HR leaders in 2024, will be to harness and direct these new technologies and capabilities in the most effective and impactful ways to help them and their stakeholders – customers and employees specifically – to succeed in 2024.” – Steve Boese

Boese cautioned organisations against focusing on “efficiency” in 2024, which often translates into cost reduction via reducing employee headcount. Strategies not executed properly put organisations at risk of adversely impacting the safety and security of their teams.

He elaborated, “Particularly, in a time of extremely high corporate profits and share prices in many parts of the world, organisations that are pursuing employee reductions can run the risk of long-term damage to their reputation as employers.”

“A better path forward for these organisations may be to find ways to take advantage of Generative and other forms of AI to help employees adapt, learn new skills, and develop new products and service capabilities to meet the needs of customers, while also providing them more of a career path and security in their own capabilities.”

2024 a year of consolidation for AI?

For better or worse, 2023 became a huge buzzword for many organisations in 2023. With many major HR technology partners releasing new Generative AI capabilities into their existing platforms, coupled with new HR technology startups entering the market with a focus on Generative AI for HR solutions, Boese expects Generative AI to continue dominating the HR technology market in 2024.

The focus this year, he said, would be on how HR organisations, supported by HR tech partners, can find ways to use the technology in the most effective and impactful ways.

Boese reviewed, “In 2023, I saw many Generative AI for HR solutions that provided support for simple, but important HR processes and activities like creating the text for a job description, summarising an employee engagement survey’s result into a shorter narrative, and answering employee questions about policies and procedures.”

“What I think we will see in 2024 is more widespread adoption of these kinds of solutions, even by smaller and mid-size organisations, as the technology becomes more generally available from HR technology providers.”

This consolidation will then herald what Boese sees as the beginning of the next phrase of Generative AI in HR becoming become prevalent, where the technology is deployed to develop customised career and development plans, to build strategic workforce planning functions, and to improve employee benefits and wellbeing.

“I don’t see any reason yet why 2023’s ‘top story’ in HR technology won’t also be the same in 2024,” he predicted.

Technology is great, but focus on people in 2024

As a full-service Human Capital Management consulting, research, and advisory firm, Boese and his team of analysts at H3 HR Advisors are constantly analysing the latest trends in the HCM space. While many organisations may be excited about the possibilities that HR technology may bring in 2024, a renewed focus on the employee as an individual should also be a priority for organisations.

Boese said, “After the pandemic era, where all organisations were impacted and disrupted, and many employees took that time to think more about the role of work in their lives, and their overall work and life balance, we are now arguably entering an era of more employee focus and empowerment.”

“In many areas of the world, a combination of strong economic conditions, changing labour force demographics, and new skills requirements are making the competition for talent highly acute and challenging. For organisations in these markets, an important differentiator will be their ability to create employee experiences that are personal and designed for that individual employee and their goals, skills, personal life stage, etc. New technologies like AI also make developing and deploying these kinds of experiences, for example, a customised and individual career development plan, possible at scale.”

For a richly diverse region like Asia, which presents different sets of conditions and cultures across countries, organisations and HR leaders are particularly challenges to deliver personalised employee experiences and high-value employer propositions.

As a start, Boese encouraged HR leaders to listen and act upon local and regional issues and feedback from employees and local leaders. Then, gain a good understanding of how new technologies can help provide overall consistency and structure to HR processes, while enabling the kind of localisation and personalisation needed to make every employee feel included and supported.

Acknowledging the size of the task, Boese said, “It will be an ongoing challenge for multinational organisations that will always be seeking that balance between what seems easy – central control and singular policies, procedures, and tools; and what looks on the surface to be extremely complex and challenging – local control, individualised employee experiences, and even sometimes country-specific technologies.”

The new revolution in the technology-human convergence

As organisations continue to devise winning strategies for 2024, the role HR leaders must play has become more important and challenging in equal measure.

A critical success factor for HR and for the organisation, said Boese, will be how effective they are at taking advantage of new technologies and their capabilities, while considering the needs, goals, hopes, and expectations of their employees.

READ MORE: Fearful of AI in HR? How to work better with the tech

He continued, “While it is expected that AI technology will have a significant and possibly disruptive impact on the workplace, it is also anticipated that the technology will not outright replace all that many employees.

“Rather, employees and organisations will be challenged to find ways to blend and merge the technology and its strengths with the employee’s capabilities and human strengths. As these technologies become more widely available and adapted, managing the dynamics between technology and people will be an ongoing and important area for HR leadership in the future.”

Join Steve Boese at the Work Reimagined content theatre on April 24 at 2.15pm, where he will provide insights into how organisations can transform the top workplace trends into impactful and actionable HR strategies. The Work Reimagined content theatre is part of HR Tech Festival Asia 2024, which is taking place from April 24-25 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre in Singapore.