A new report analyses the impact of increasing automation in the workplace and how this will affect HR job roles. Around 90 per cent of HR jobs analysed are expected to be significantly impacted, either facing a high or medium amount of change due to technology. 

Willis Towers Watson, a global solutions company, has released a report analysing how HR job roles will be affected by technology over the next five years. It found that around 90 per cent of job roles will see either a high or medium impact and recommends ways in which HR professionals can adapt.

Analysing 27 different HR job roles, the study looked at the skills and tasks each job encompassed and then evaluated how much each job role would be impacted by incoming technology.

Around 29 per cent of the jobs (eight in total) are expected to be highly impacted by technology. Many of these jobs are at Associate and Executive levels. Furthermore, a significant proportion of the current tasks within those roles are administrative in nature and therefore are likely to be automated and perhaps fully displaced.

This affects the majority of branches within HR including performance and rewards, talent management, learning, organisational development and talent attraction.

The report further predicts that the majority of HR roles (around 60 per cent) will fall within the category of facing a medium amount of impact. The roles that this would encompass include jobs at Manager and Head levels which will be augmented by technology.

Just three out of the 27 jobs analysed will face a low level of impact in light of increasing automation. These include: Head of Talent Management, HR Business Partners (HRBP) and Manager of Organisation Development. According to the study, these jobs experience minimal automation of tasks. However, the research also predicts that these roles will adapt to support the needs of a wider talent ecosystem, deeper engagement with the business to drive business transformation and organisational change.

However, for HR roles that are highly impacted by technology, the study states that there will be other adjacent jobs that HR professionals can transition into but upskilling to fit these jobs will be a necessary part of this.

In addition, several new jobs within HR will come about including HR Data Analysts, Learning Designers and Employee Onboarding Specialists.

The report further states that continuous learning is essential for HR professionals – for their own upskilling as well as driving a skills upgrade across the organisation. The research identifies critical cross-function skills that HR should focus on, including:

  • Ability to adopt HR technology
  • Skills in Organisation Behaviour and Change Management, Relationships and Communication
  • Building an Agile Mindset
  • Focussing on Business and Financial Acumen
  • Improving Progressive and Inclusive Work Policy Implementation

Mayank Parekh, CEO of Institute for Human Resource Professionals, said:

This study confirms a seismic shift in the HR landscape as we know it today. HR professionals need to acquire the skills to grasp technologies that will enable them to develop and implement innovative people practices for their organisations.

Digital acumen will also enable HR to understand how technical skills fit into the workplace and therefore better support organisations that embark on digitalisation to unlock greater business value. HR can lead the way to evaluate the many emerging options for getting work done both within and outside HR, and determine how best to combine human talent and automation.

*This research was taken from Willis Tower Watson’s report ‘Study on the Impact of Technology on Human Resource Jobs and Skills’ which was published in November 2020. This report was commissioned by the Institute for Human Resource Professionals and Ministry of Manpower in Singapore.