'Changing face of HR' | People professionals ready to embrace AI to ease burnout and heavy workloads

People professionals ready to embrace AI to ease burnout and heavy workloads

A new global report from Sage reveals that HR professionals welcome AI to ease the burden of admin jobs, take away time consuming tasks, and, ultimately, ease burnout.

The annual report, titled The Changing Face of HR, surveyed over 1,000 HR leaders across a range of sectors and countries, finding that 77% believe AI has the potential to revolutionise ways of working within their company. With 95% of respondents reporting an increase in their workload over the past year and 91% seeing an increase in more responsibilities in their role. HR leaders in the UK are particularly strained with workloads, with respondents twice as likely to work over 45 hours per week compared to before the pandemic.

The research also revealed that:

  • Amount of work (80%), low morale and burnout of employees (79%) and limited budgets (79%) are the top challenges keeping HR professionals up at night

  • 80% of HR professionals believe the role of HR will change considerably due to AI

  • 71% of HR professionals believe implementing AI in HR tasks will create more jobs

  • 45% of HR leaders are currently using HR metrics, 44% are utilising automation, and 43% employing cloud HR solutions, showing a significant shift towards automation and analytics

The report also highlighted some areas of focus, with more than half (56%) of HR Leaders reporting that they need more technology to operate effectively.

By utilising technology HR leaders will be able to collect, analyse, and report meaningful data-driven insights to better inform their decisions. Training was identified as key to taking advantage of the benefits of technology with 79% agreeing that education was needed to fully capitalise on AI’s capabilities.

Future outlook

Looking forward to the future, the top three areas HR professionals want to spend more time on are strategic planning (61%), using data to drive decision-making (59%) and employee engagement (59%). This demonstrates a fundamental shift from paperwork to people strategies, meaning that there is a need to automate labour-intensive HR admin tasks. Although 68% say over half of the HR processes in their organisation are automated, 79% say more could be automated to improve efficiency.

Interestingly, the research also revealed a gap between small businesses (57%) and medium businesses (80%) in terms of automation levels, indicating that smaller companies may benefit from investing in HR technology to keep up with larger competitors.

The report concludes that HR professionals are well-positioned to navigate these changes and continue to play a crucial role in shaping the future of work.

Amanda Cusdin, CPO at Sage, commented: “Our findings show that HR professionals are facing increasing pressure to deliver results while managing an ever-growing list of responsibilities. However, the industry and its people are resilient and those that embrace technology and AI will gain more time back, which we know is so invaluable when you’re trying to avoid burnout. As a result, HR professionals will be able to shift their focus’ to areas of their jobs that they find more valuable, such as people strategies, which in turn can increase job satisfaction.”

Sarah Holmes, People and Training Manager, Cleveland Group, said: "A people centric strategy is critical to achieving long term, sustainable results. Sage's research shows that HR professionals want to spend more time on are strategic planning (61%) and using data to drive decision-making (59%).

"This is the same in our business; having all your key people trends and results, in real time analytics, at your fingertips is critical to us making the best business decisions. It complements and reinforces your plan of action and is essential to fully realising the full potential of your business. The benefits technology brings to HR teams cannot be underestimated; without it businesses are at risk of overlooking areas of potential growth."

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