By Andie Burjek
Apr. 21, 2020
While human resources used to be a more functional role, over the years it has become more strategic, with more HR executives earning a seat at the table. On the front lines, HR managers also have an evolved job description, increasingly relying on technology to take over the automatable parts of their job so that they can focus on more human tasks.
Just as employees are expected to grow with the times and learn technology skills like data science and programming that make them more attractive to employers and relevant to the jobs of the future, HR managers must do the same.
Technology is gaining a larger role in many traditional HR duties, from recruiting to scheduling to performance measurement. This has been happening for a while and means that HR managers must be prepared to learn new systems and skills related to the software an organization uses. Relying on current skills is not going to get an HR manager far. They must be willing to be flexible, show curiosity and learn new skills.
However, if an HR manager is tech-savvy enough to manage various HR technology systems, ultimately they will have more time to focus on the HR duties that require timeless skills like tact and empathy.
Programs enabled with artificial intelligence, for example, can help answer common employee and candidate questions, leaving HR professionals time to focus on other responsibilities rather than repeatedly answer the same common, basic questions. Chatbots can’t answer more complex questions, but they can alert a person to answer those queries.
In the recruiting context, technology can help HR managers quickly review resumes. This has both advantages and risks. On one hand, employers don’t spend as much time going over resumes. On the other hand, recruiting technology may make biased decisions if it has been programmed with biased training data. Still, with appropriate training data, this has potential to make the recruiting process better.
And with scheduling, workforce management software can help HR managers create schedules, even considering compliance laws that make scheduling complicated. Different states and localities have varied regulations regarding paid time off, sick leave and overtime. But the appropriate software can take regulations into account as someone creates a schedule for its workforce.
Meanwhile, some HR tasks should always retain the human touch. Managers should always terminate employees face to-face, avoiding doing so via text message, email or other forms of virtual communication. Managers also have key communications responsibilities — for those times as common as the annual open enrollment and as unique as a crisis or global pandemic. Being able to effectively, strategically and sympathetically communicate information is part of the HR job description that does not change with the advance of HR technology solutions.
Given these tech-enabled and human-centric HR tasks, when a company is looking for a new HR manager, employers should include certain responsibilities in their job description. Some of these skills are constant:
Other responsibilities can likely be streamlined through technology:
Additionally, the rise of technology solutions adds extra responsibilities to that list, like understanding how to use several types of tech tools. These include:
While HR practitioners are expected to do more than ever before, they have more technology and tools available to make their jobs more efficient in many ways.
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