HR Business Partners Aren’t Afraid of Technology Changing Their Role

HR Business Partners Aren’t Afraid of Technology Changing Their Role

According to Gartner research, the adoption of AI is poised to grow rapidly in the coming years. This and other emerging technologies like robotics are bound to fundamentally change the way we work, largely or completely automating many of today’s jobs. While this technological upheaval is generally expected to create more jobs than it destroys, the transition will be disruptive and challenging for many professionals accustomed to working in a pre-AI world. The most dire projections anticipate widespread displacement or the radical transformation of current jobs due to AI and robotics, potentially affecting tens of millions of workers in developed countries.

The effects of automation will be challenging for the clients of many HR business partners, and HRBPs will be called to provide increasing support for those impacted, such as ensuring they have access to retraining opportunities. In addition, HRBPs see themselves as part of the population affected by automation: Ten years from now, HRBPs expect nearly half of their current day-to-day responsibilities to be automated. HRBPs are optimistic, however, about the impacts that technology and automation will have on their role. Our research at Gartner finds 68 percent of HRBPs agree that automation is an opportunity to prioritize strategic responsibilities. To capitalize on this opportunity, however, HRBPs need to anticipate what work will be automated and what work will be augmented.

At a recent meeting with 70 HRBPs in New York City, we discussed predictions for the future of their role and asked them how technology has changed or will change it. Several attendees mentioned employee data collection: Previously, this was an onerous monthly or quarterly process of manually pulling together data from various sources to populate dashboards for stakeholders. Technology has made this process easier and quicker, with the use of pulse surveys and other tools. It also creates opportunities to collect data in larger quantities or more precisely, and to use it in new ways, though HR still has a lot of work to do in convincing the C-suite of the value of talent analytics.

One HRBP looks forward to offloading the responsibility for answering “How do I…” questions (such as “How do I start a leave of absence?”). With AI, chatbots, and self-service HR platforms already enabling employees to get many of these answers on demand, this possibility is closer than ever to being realized.

Once they have offloaded these routine tasks, the New York HRBPs said, they are looking forward to devoting more of their day-to-day work to higher-value responsibilities, augmenting the innovative and strategic aspects of their role.

One example of HRBP work that is primed for augmentation is succession planning. An HRBP from a retail organization noted that people typically only look locally for successors, but global companies should be able to use data to pick better people from a wider range of sources. Another HRBP from a finance organization pointed to onboarding, where they expect to be more able to personalize new employees’ experiences and opportunities. In these ways, technology can help shift HR from a support function to a strategic business function.

Gartner clients looking to learn more can register for our upcoming webinars on “The HRBP in 2025” by visiting our website or talking to their account manager.