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When will HRBPs be replaced by Robots?

At the last myHRcareers networking party, Richard Burton of EDF Energy delivered a talk on ‘innovation in HR’ and a week later, attendees are still debating when HRBP’s will be replaced by robots. Although the question evoked laughter at the time, this isn’t the first instance in which we’ve thought about how and when robots will make HR jobs obsolete.

When we’ve talked about innovation in HR at previous myHRcareers events, we’ve discussed automating transactional activities which is already happening with better cloud HR technology. It’s easy to think that strategic activities required of HRBP’s are unable to be replaced by robots, but with discussions about automating rule-based activities in law and medical diagnosis already happening, we can’t be too sure.

HRBP’s are business partners with the role of supporting an organisation’s HR function and overall strategy, but being replaced by robots might not be such a bad thing.

A few advantages of robots taking over

  • Robots have a lower margin of error

The human margin of error is quite steep in comparison to robots. Humans have a lot of needs and are liable to distraction. Robots are rational beings..err..things and aren’t guided by the emotions that we humans are bound by. They can make calm and collected decisions after inputting all the relevant information, and can give you a variety of options with optimal results of action. When you think about it, all error by robots can be traced back to humans anyway!

  • Decreased conflict in the workforce

Robots don’t have strife with anyone, and will not compare themselves or their salary to their colleagues’ (robots don’t even need to be paid)! This can decrease unhealthy competition in the workforce and possibly help everyone else get on a little easier.

  • Robots taking over some jobs enable us to get good at others

Innovation comes from doing something new in a different way that hasn’t been done before. With the time taken away from typical HRBP activities, we have an opportunity to focus on new and better ways to operate and promote our businesses.

  • People trust robots more than they do people

Have you ever said something, a fun fact or random piece of information, just to have someone question it, take out their smartphone, and fact check it on a search engine? People trust the internet more than they do each other! HRBP’s are in leadership positions and if they were robots, it’s possible their actions wouldn’t be questioned as much.

Similarly, people are accustomed to the robotic touch. Don’t you know someone who specifically opts to receive services without the need for human interaction?

  • 24 hour accessibility – robots never sleep

There’s no rest for robot HRBP’s who will be on call 24-7 (not that they need it)! This is good news for us as we have more time to focus on non-work related things when we’re off the clock! Have you ever received a work email after hours or over the weekend? Not anymore!

Who knows if robots would make excellent HRBP’s, but the time that happens may be soon. We predict it won’t happen all at once, but gradually, with some activities being taken over first and then the rest following afterwards (similar to HR admins now).

Hopefully, when the time comes, we will embrace the change and all the benefits that come with it. Having robot HRBP’s means we are advancing and innovating. We will have to acquire new skills and accommodate new ways of working, but both we and our organisations will benefit in the long run.


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