HR professionals ready to embrace AI in the face of burnout



Published May 31, 2024


A NEW global report from Sage reveals that human resources (HR) professionals welcome the use of artificial intelligence (AI) - and are embracing the technology as a means to reduce workloads, boost competitiveness and create jobs.

While there are substantive concerns around training, there is also a strong belief that AI will alleviate the burden of admin jobs, take away time-consuming tasks, ease burnout and dramatically improve job satisfaction.

Key findings

The annual report, which surveyed more than 1 000 HR leaders across a range of sectors and countries, revealed that 77% believe AI has the potential to revolutionise ways of working within their company. About 95% of respondents reported an increase in their workload over the past year and 91% saw an increase in responsibilities within their role.

The research revealed that:

• Amount of work (80%), low morale, employee burnout (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% are employing cloud HR solutions – all of which indicate 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% of respondents agreeing that education was needed to fully capitalise on AI’s capabilities.

Future outlook

Looking 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 added to improve efficiency.

The research also revealed a significant gap between small businesses (57%) and medium businesses (80%) in terms of automation levels. This indicates 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.

Sonia Tshabalala, regional people director at Sage, believes that South African HR professionals are embracing AI for similar reasons.

“With 44% using automation and 43% using cloud, this emphasises that the use of technology has become crucial. Despite challenges like heavy workloads and limited budgets, they are turning to automation for solutions. By leveraging technology for strategic planning, data-driven decision-making and employee engagement, HR leaders can collect and analyse meaningful insights,” says Tshabalala.

Amanda Cusdin, CPO at Sage, says that despite the increasing pressure to deliver results while managing an ever-growing list of responsibilities, HR professionals are adaptable and tenacious. “The industry and its people are resilient - and those who embrace technology and AI will gain more time back, which we know is 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,” Cusdin elaborates.

Ben Brooks, founder and CEO at Pilot, believes the importance of HR analytics in strategic HR cannot be underestimated. “Finance, sales, operations, technology and marketing all come to the table with numbers that illustrate progress, challenges and performance against goals. HR must do the same. Leveraging technology to collect, analyse and report meaningful data-driven insights can become a superpower for HR.”

• Supplied by Sage professionals