Will Most Talent Acquisition Roles Be Eliminated Over the Next Decade?

A majority of employers say that many HR roles are on their way to automation and extinction. But can the human factor be removed from human resources? Let's find out.

March 3, 2017 – While technology will never be able to replace the human factor in human resources, it will likely take over certain functions on talent acquisition and management teams. A new survey from CareerBuilder shows that 72 percent of employers expect that some roles within talent acquisition and human capital management will become completely automated within the next 10 years.

The rate at which companies with 250-plus employees are adopting automation varies considerably. Although more are turning to technology to address time-consuming, labor-intensive talent acquisition and management tasks – that are susceptible to human error – the study shows a significant proportion continue to rely on manual processes. One third of employers (34 percent) don’t use technology automation for recruiting candidates, 44 percent don’t automate onboarding and 60 percent don’t automate human capital management activities for employees.


Tipping Point

“When companies expand and add more and more employees, there’s a certain tipping point where things can no longer be managed efficiently and accurately by hand,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer (CHRO) for CareerBuilder. “Automation needs to be incorporated, so the HR team is free to focus on strategies versus tasks, and focus on building relationships with employees and candidates.” As certain functions on teams become more automated, she added, “we’ll see those workers’ roles evolve and concentrate on the strategic, social and motivational components of HR that technology cannot address …..” Here’s some further reading from Hunt Scanlon Media.

Four HR Roles That Matter Most
CEOs increasingly recognize the big impact HR can have on talent attraction & retention, setting company culture, and defending the bottom line. But they’re demanding more from their top HR leaders. So, how can the HR suite meet the strategic talent needs of their organizations – and survive?


What’s Being Automated?

The study shows that most of the automation is centered around messaging, benefits and compensation, but there’s room to increase efficiencies across a variety of basic functions. Among employers who automate at least one part of talent acquisition and management, here are the percentages who do so for the following areas: employee messaging automation: 57 percent; set up employee benefits: 53 percent; set up payroll: 47 percent; background screening / drug testing: 47 percent; archiving candidates: 37 percent; centralize candidate profiles: 31 percent; interview scheduling: 30 percent; search third party resume databases: 29 percent; performance reviews: 29 percent; employee learning and development: 28 percent; request candidate feedback from hiring managers: 27 percent; first day orientation: 26 percent; continuous candidate engagement: 21 percent; tailored career site experience: 20 percent; employee referral process: 20 percent.

Benefits to Automation

Of employers who have automated a part of their talent acquisition and management processes, the majority said automation has saved the organization time and money while decreasing the number of errors and enhancing the employee and candidate experience.

Here’s the breakdown of responses: saved time and increased efficiency: 93 percent; improved the candidate experience: 71 percent; reduced errors: 69 percent; saved money and resources: 67 percent; improved the employee experience: 60 percent; improved employee satisfaction: 40 percent; improved employee retention: 28 percent.

How a Lack of Automation Can Negatively Impact Organizations

Employers who perceive a currently underutilized amount of automation for their talent acquisition and management processes pointed to longer turnaround times, higher costs, frustrated team members and issues with company leaders among other concerns:

  • Everything takes longer because of manual processes: 61 percent
  • High level of stress / frustration on the HR team: 50 percent
  • Loss of candidates because the process takes too long: 46 percent
  • It ends up costing the organizations more money because of inefficiencies: 43 percent
  • Higher incidence of inaccuracies: 39 percent
  • Poor candidate experience: 39 percent
  • Strained relationships with company leaders and hiring managers: 33 percent
  • Poor employee experience: 29 percent

Technology Making People ‘Irrelevant’

There is a clear trend to align and magnify the relative importance of technology in the future of work. A recent study by Korn Ferry found that 67 percent of CEOs said they believe that technology will create greater value in the future than human capital will and 63 percent of CEOs said they perceive that technology will become their organization’s greatest source of future competitive advantage. Another 63 percent of CEOs said they perceive that technology will become their firm’s greatest source of future competitive advantage. But the economic reality differs sharply, with human capital, not physical capital, creating the greatest value for organizations.

CEOs’ distorted perceptions demonstrate the extent to which people are being painted out of the future of work — and the risk to organizations that do not recognize the potential of people to generate value. A full 44 percent of leaders in large global businesses told Korn Ferry that they believe that the prevalence of robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI) will make people “largely irrelevant” in the future of work.

Value In Human Capital

Korn Ferry economic analysis finds human capital is the greatest value creator available to organizations: For every $1 invested in human capital, $11.39 is added to GDP. That return on human capital — value versus cost — should give a clear signal to CEOs: Investing in people can generate value for the organization over time that significantly exceeds initial financial outlay.

“Although organizations often put technology in the spotlight in the future of work, it is human capital that holds the greatest value for organizations now and in the future,” said Jean-Marc Laouchez, global solutions managing director for Korn Ferry Hay Group. “When an innovation strikes gold, the connection between the value that’s created and the team behind the technology is often lost,” he noted. Leaders therefore must recognize and capture the value of all their resources to succeed.

“The economic reality of human capital value magnifies the importance of attracting and retaining the right people now and in the future. Technology alone cannot deliver the uplift in productivity and value every organization needs,” said Jeanne MacDonald, global operating executive and president, talent acquisition solutions, for Korn Ferry Futurestep.

“The digital world is fundamentally changing the connections between companies, their employees and their customers. In many ways, technology is strengthening these connections — breaking down structural, geographic and cultural barriers to bring customers closer and link up global colleagues,” she noted.

“But CEOs must keep their eyes wide open to the potential pitfalls of the digital revolution, including asking technology to do all the work to the exclusion of people,” Ms. MacDonald said.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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1 Comment on "Will Most Talent Acquisition Roles Be Eliminated Over the Next Decade?"

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Dave Kinnear
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“Never say never,” as “they” say, Scott. Don’t look now, but humans are already pretty much obsolete as far as work is concerned. There are very few, if any, human endeavors that cannot be now, or will be in the near future, done better by AI driven technology. We need to find meaning in our lives through activities other than a traditional job. We are about to achieve a long time goal of the human species – being freed from the necessity of working to survive. I make this bold statement knowing full well that timing is the real unknown.… Read more »
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