AI to take a leading role in the HR function, according to latest research

A new survey commissioned by HR Technologies UK unveils how businesses will leverage AI to attract talent and use technology to support wellness and DEI in the workplace

23 January 2024, London – HR professionals across the UK have signalled that artificial intelligence (AI) will play a key role in talent acquisition, onboarding, training, and retention in 2024 and beyond. However, HR departments must play their role in mitigating the risk of bias from algorithmic design and model training data. This is according to research commissioned by the organisers of HR Technologies UK, the country’s meeting place for HR and recruitment professionals.

A survey of over 1,000 UK-based HR professionals has revealed businesses, on average, spent £340,257 on HR technologies over the last financial year. An overwhelming majority (80 per cent) support the integration of AI into their talent acquisition processes, following a significant year for the technology, which has seen it thrust into the public zeitgeist.

As deployment of AI continues to rise across the HR function, the onus is on practitioners to remain vigilant of bias in the screening process, as studies show that AI does perpetuate biases across gender, age, race, and people with disabilities and dialectic or regional differences of speech.

It’s not just recruitment that businesses will be using AI to streamline. Staff training and upskilling was reported as one of the top challenges HR practitioners face (36 per cent), so it comes as little surprise that respondents stated that they believe AI will be important for onboarding and training in 2024 (26 per cent), as well as performance management (24 per cent) and virtual assistants (22 per cent).

More generally, almost all respondents (93 per cent) recognise the instrumental role of technology in addressing challenges that HR professionals face, whether that’s employee retention and staff turnover (39 per cent), correctly managing hybrid working (36.23 per cent), or ensuring staff wellbeing and engagement (36 per cent).

Commenting on the results, Nicki Morris, Group Exhibition Director at HR Technologies UK, said: “It is excellent to see that the majority of HR professionals are looking for technology solutions, such as AI, to streamline practices. These findings provide hope for the future of automation, with human oversight, within practices, with the cohesive use of emerging technologies, like AI.”

Nicki continued: “As with many other areas in organisations, HR teams are struggling for resource in an increasingly competitive business environment, and the evidence from our survey suggests that practitioners will lean heavily on automation and virtual assistance in the coming years. By investing in new technologies, HR practitioners can relieve themselves of certain time-consuming burdens, while maintaining peace of mind in knowing that these tasks are in the hands of technologies that have seen significant recent investment.”

In light of the results, Richard Doherty, Senior Director Product Marketing EMEA at Workday and exhibitor at HR Technologies UK said: “The findings from this research are very much aligned with what we are seeing from customers. HR professionals are seeking to harness the power of AI to make their departments more effective and efficient. By automating time-consuming and repetitive administrative processes, they can focus on the high-value tasks that only humans can do.” 

HR Technologies UK will be co-located with Learning Technologies, an established event held by CloserStill Media. In 2023, it welcomed over 10,000 visitors, 200 international exhibitors and 200 speakers. The events are interlinked, with visitors at HR Technologies UK gaining direct access to Learning Technologies, and vice versa.


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