Technology and AI for HR transformation Human Resources New Zealand’s Magazine for Human Resources Professionals SPRING 2023
31 October 2023, Cordis, Auckland
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From the editor
Are you curious about the rapidly evolving technology that can think like a human? Have you got your eye on the world of machine learning? Wondering about the effect of tech and artificial intelligence (AI) on your organisation and your HR role? Then this issue of Human Resources magazine is for you! We explore how organisations are dealing with the expansion of cognitive computing, whether that’s artificial intelligence, machine learning or deep learning.
We are seeing examples every day of how HR is engaging with AI. Whether it’s personalising the employee experience, deploying chatbots to help automate HR service delivery or sourcing and screening candidates during recruitment, AI has a role in much of HR’s work. And, of course, we are also seeing a wave of concerns and fears about whether people will start losing their jobs because of this.
In this issue, we interview heads of HR working within tech companies to learn about cutting-edge technology and how it’s being
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applied to HR and the workplace. We hear from an AI expert at Deloitte, Dr Amanda Williamson, who takes an in-depth look at how AI is influencing recruitment, with Sam Collins sharing his practical examples. We also have a useful article from Melissa Crawford, CMHRNZ, on how HR can successfully work with AI, and from Gillian Brookes on using technology to support flexibility in the workplace.
You will also notice parts of the magazine look different from usual. This is because we’re rolling out new designs and features to bring you the best reading experience possible. We’ve refreshed our layout and updated our cover, but we’ve still got the same practically focused, relevant and topical content. If you can spot our design ‘theme’ over the next four issues, email me with your answer and we’ll pick one lucky winner to win Don’t Worry About the Robots: How to survive and thrive in the new world of work by Dr Jo Cribb and David Glover and Leader Zen by Jess Stuart.
Enjoy, and warm wishes for spring!
Kathy Catton Managing Editor
Human Resources is published quarterly by Human Resources New Zealand PO Box 11-450, Wellington
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The views expressed in Human Resources are not necessarily those of Human Resources New Zealand, nor does the advertisement of any product or service in this magazine imply endorsement of it by Human Resources New Zealand.
Copyright © Human Resources New Zealand Inc.
Vol 28 No: 3
SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 1
B r i n g i n g t h e ‘ h u m a n ’
b a c k t o H u m a n
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s p e c i a l i s t
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r i n g o n 0 9 4 2 1 1 0 0 2
f o r a l l y o u r
P e r m a n e n t , C o n t r a c t , a n d E x e c u t i v e S e a r c h n e e d s . I t ' s a l l w e d o .
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TOP OF MIND Nick McKissack
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become the topic-du-jour in 2023. It’s not a new phenomenon and certainly we’ve had AI making its way into HR processes for a while. What we’re seeing now is the increasing availability of AI and a progression of its capability. Naturally a lot of discussion is occurring about how AI will impact on HR roles.
Scanning through the domains of knowledge in the HRNZ Capability Framework I can see many opportunities for AI to be used to enhance HR processes. Attraction, Recruitment and Selection is an obvious opportunity and one where we can already see a prevalence of AI in use. How about Workforce Planning, Remuneration and Rewards, or Analytics and Data Science? The reality is there are opportunities to use AI across the whole spectrum of these domains to enhance our HR practice.
So does this mean HR roles will start to disappear and be increasingly replaced by technology?
In my view – absolutely not!
To start with, we need HR professionals to train AI how to undertake the tasks that can be replaced. Anyone who has used ChatGPT (for example) will know that
AI is not just an advanced form of a Google search. It’s a technology that you have the power to train to perform tasks with increasing accuracy and effectiveness. If we’re to successfully apply the technology to HR processes, we need to take the lead in developing the ways in which it’s applied. Otherwise, we risk those without the appropriate knowledge creating applications for AI that amplify existing problems, for example, systemic bias in recruitment. HR professionals have an ongoing role to ensure the use of AI evolves in a positive and useful way.
Another reason why HR professionals will still be needed can be found in the HRNZ Capability Framework. I’m referring to the six Core Capabilities defined in The Path. In creating The Path, HRNZ’s research identified that –while the Domains of Knowledge are important – the six core capabilities are the most critical and are relevant across all of the specialisms within the HR profession. The six capabilities are really about the ability of HR professionals to provide leadership in developing and implementing workplace solutions in a New Zealand context.
HR professionals know that every organisation or situation is unique
and, when it comes to solutions to people issues, we need to adapt our approach to suit those specific needs. This requires levels of empathy, curiosity, insight and innovation not easy to emulate with AI.
In many ways, AI presents an excellent opportunity for HR professionals to discard repetitive and transactional tasks in favour of applying their core capabilities to solving the most challenging organisational problems.
HRNZ encourages its members to become enthusiastic adopters of AI in their work and ensure they understand the opportunities and limitations of the technology. Like any technology, it’s a tool we can use to enhance the results that we achieve and not something we should fear or avoid.
We’ll be taking a deep-dive into how technology, in general, is impacting on New Zealand workplaces at our Digital Workplaces Forum in November this year. This will be a great opportunity to learn from some fantastic speakers and share ideas with fellow HR professionals from around the country.
SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 3
FROM THE HRNZ CHIEF EXECUTIVE
In this issue
26 View from the inside Editor Kathy Catton interviews heads of HR within tech companies and asks how they are leveraging the power of tech and AI
30 Why IT and HR need to become ‘best friends’ Melissa Crawford looks at how HR can successfully work with tech and AI in the workplace
34 What’s the future of recruitment
Amanda Williamson and Sam Collins investigate what is and isn’t working in the world of recruitment and AI
38 How can technology support a flexible workforce?
Gillian Brookes offers tips on how to integrate technology into a flexible workforce
18 12 30
4 HUMAN RESOURCES | SPRING 2023
Shaping the Profession
1 From the Editor Kathy Catton
3 Top of mind Chief Executive Nick McKissack shares his thoughts
8 Quick Reads The latest updates to keep you current in the world of HR
10 Books and podcasts to inform and inspire HRNZ Member Lynne Allison reviews the latest book and podcasts to inform and inspire
12 Accredited Members HRNZ caught up with three Distinguished HRNZ Fellows, to share their career highlights and insights
16 Employment Law Update
What’s the risk for employers using AI? – Sianatu Lotoaso, Dundas Street Employment Lawyers, examines the steps employees need to take when using generative AI tools in business
18 Case Law Review
The fight for privacy – David Burton, Burton Law, explains a recent case involving the use of fingerprint technology
20 Research Update
Is AI taking the human out of HR? – Melika Soleimani and colleagues from Massey University offer practical implications for AI’s application in an HR setting
22 PD Spotlight
We meet one of the assessors behind Emerging Professional accreditation and seek to demystify the process for Members
24 Project Kōtuitui Jacinta Schultz outlines this important HRNZ project
42 Dear Human Resources… Aidan Stoate, Inspire Group, shares his heartwarming insights into being a people leader
HRNZ Capability Framework
You will notice that some of our banners and footers have changed.
Our articles will now be tagged with the levels (see above), and Domains of Knowledge (see the end of each feature article), from our new Capability Framework, The Path For more information, check out our website
SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 5
SHAPES LEADS DESIGNS ADVISES DELIVERS
8 Quick reads 10 Books and podcasts to inform and inspire 12 Distinguished Fellows 16 What’s the risk for employers using AI? 18 Fight for privacy 20 Artificial intelligence – taking the human out of HR? 22 Demystifying Professional Accreditation: Emerging Professional accreditation 24 Project Kōtuitui 42 Dear Human Resources SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 7
GLORIAVALE RESULT ANNOUNCED
Six former female residents of Gloriavale successfully obtained a declaration from the Employment Court in July that they were employees of Gloriavale. The women had worked full-time cleaning, washing, sewing and cooking, supporting both the community and its business endeavours.
The Gloriavale defendants denied that the women were employees. They claimed that they were “volunteers” because the work was conducted as an expression of their religious commitment to live in a communal setting or, alternatively, that they were conducting domestic work as part of a “bigger family”. They claimed that a finding of an employment relationship
would be incompatible with the true, religious nature of the relationship.
The Employment Court found that the work was “grinding, hard, unrelenting, and physically and psychologically demanding” that had left “deep scars” for the plaintiffs.
In reaching her conclusion that the women were employees, Chief Judge Ingles noted the importance of adopting an approach that recognises the protective purposes of the Employment Relations Act 2000 when considering whether a worker is an employee. She considered the nature of the work, the nature of the facilities in which the work was conducted and the fact that the employees had little choice but to do the work. The
employees were not volunteers, the classification of the work as domestic was not relevant, and freedom of religion is subject to New Zealand’s laws, including employment laws.
This follows the Employment Court’s decision in May 2022 that three former male residents of Gloriavale were employees from the age of six until they left the community, and the Uber decision in October 2022 that Uber drivers are employees and not independent contractors. These cases show a willingness by the Court to look behind the arrangements in place between the parties to determine the true nature of the relationship and apply minimum employment entitlements where an employment relationship exists.
PRESENTEEISM VERSUS ABSENTEEISM
In a recent survey conducted by Frog Recruitment, more than half (52 per cent) of Kiwi workers admitted they are guilty of going to work sick.
Frog Recruitment Managing Director Shannon Barlow says the behaviour is driven by various factors, including financial constraints, the pressure of heavy workloads and the culture of Aotearoa New Zealand’s strong work ethic, where workers feel pressured to demonstrate their commitment to their employer.
Barlow suggests employers and managers discourage
presenteeism and work with an unwell employee to reduce workloads or assign tasks to other team members. However, disappointingly, some employers are reverting to a time when a ‘soldiering on’ attitude was acceptable, pressuring employees to come to the office regardless of illness.
“The expectation from employers to staff should be clear – get well and keep your germs at home,” says Shannon.
“More than a quarter (28 per cent) of respondents felt that while the sick leave entitlement had increased [from five to 10 days per year], it wasn’t enough. We are witnessing
people not using their sick leave for a common cold or sore throat; however, this often backfires when the ‘sniffles’ morph into a more serious illness, putting themselves and their colleagues at risk.” Shannon says companies need to create a supportive work culture that encourages the appropriate use of sick leave, whether an employee is at the workplace or working from home. Valuing and prioritising employee wellbeing creates a healthier and more productive workplace.
8 HUMAN RESOURCES | SPRING 2023
UPDATE TO PG LEGISLATION
From 13 June 2023, employees will now have 12 months to raise a personal grievance related to sexual harassment.
The Employment Relations (Extended Time for Personal Grievance for Sexual Harassment) Amendment Act allows employees more time to raise a personal grievance, rising from 90 days to 12 months. For
all other personal grievances, the time to notify the employer is unchanged at 90 days.
The new time applies to sexual harassment events that happened, or came to the notice of the employee, on or after 13 June 2023. The new time applies even if the employee leaves the employment during the 12-month period. Reporting sexual harassment can be difficult. It is common
for victims of sexual harassment to wait a long time before coming forward, if at all. The change will improve the personal grievance process for victims of sexual harassment that has occurred in their employment, by allowing them more time to consider what has happened before deciding to come forward.
AOTEAROA TOPS LIST OF LIFE–WORK BALANCE NATIONS
In a recent study from global employment experts Remote, Aotearoa New Zealand lands first in the top 10 best nations for life–work balance, a term describing the wave of professionals creating a healthy relationship between their careers and personal lives.
Remote’s global index study assesses the quality of life–work balance in the world’s top 60 GDP countries, ranking each nation out of 100. The overall score is determined through factors including minimum wage, sick leave, maternity leave, healthcare availability, public happiness, average working hours and LGBTQ+ inclusivity.
Aotearoa scores highly across several metrics, offering a generous statutory annual leave allowance (32 days), a high rate of sick pay (80 per cent) and a government-funded universal health care system.
REMOVAL OF REQUIREMENT TO SELF-ISOLATE
Since 13 August 2023, New Zealanders who test positive for COVID-19 are no longer required to self-isolate.
Normal sickness policies and procedures apply. Employees can use their sick leave if they
are sick with COVID-19 (or anything else) and cannot work. This may be a good time to review, update or remove COVID-19 policies from your policy handbook. This includes if you want to force your employees to test for COVID-19 or isolate for a certain time if they test positive
owing to the nature of the business and the risk of reporting to work with COVID-19. However, common sense would still say that health and hygiene rules apply: if employees are unwell, they shouldn’t come to work.
NEW LAW TO PROTECT MIGRANT WORKERSS
The Worker Protection (Migrant and Other Employees) Bill is now law and will protect vulnerable workers in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The legislation will come into force from 6 January 2024. It will amend the Immigration Act 2009, the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Companies Act 1993 by introducing a fitfor-purpose offence and penalty regime to deter employers of
temporary migrant workers from non-compliance with their obligations.
The exploitation of migrant workers can include a range of non-compliance with employer obligations through to forced labour and people trafficking.
As part of these legislative changes, employers must comply with requests from the Labour Inspectorate within 10 working days, including providing employment-related documents. A new infringement
offence has been introduced for employers failing to comply with the Inspectorate’s request within the 10-working-day deadline.
The law change will empower the High Court to disqualify a person from being a director of a New Zealand company if they are convicted of exploitation of unlawful employees and temporary workers under the Immigration Act 2009 or a trafficking in persons offence under the Crimes Act 1961.
SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 9
Books and podcasts to inform and inspire
Help is at hand with timely resources for HR practitioners. These two books and two podcasts provide valuable guidance.
Gillan Brookes (2023) Flexperts: Getting the best from flex in a world that’s ever changing.
Published by Gillian Brookes.
Written by New Zealander Gillian Brookes, a flexible work specialist with a background in HR and wellbeing economics in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, this is a valuable resource and toolkit to help you implement flexible working.
This book questions your reasons for going ‘flex’ and suggests ways of measuring whether you’re achieving its strategic intent. Gillian discusses the main challenges with flex and asks
what the number one challenge is with flexible working to find out what’s getting in the way of flex being the best it can be in the workplace.
Gillian offers case studies and research on the different
10 HUMAN RESOURCES | SPRING 2023
PODCAST REVIEW LYNNE ALLISON
“Flexperts is an essential read for any leader who wants to learn how to implement flexible working with ease and confidence.” Belinda Morgan, author of Solving The Part-Time Puzzle Flexibility, and the associated expectations people bring to work, are dramatically different to just a few years ago. As manager, you can feel stuck in the middle, trying to please everyone in your team when there’s still so much work to be done. When it comes to flex, you’ve got old tools in a new world, and they don’t stand up to the job. industries. will guide you and your team through the ever-changing context so you can reliably access more of flex’s potential benefits, such as higher levels of productivity, wellbeing and staff retention. Flexperts provides everything you need to build your credibility as flexpert in your workplace. As the global movement for flexibility continues to build FLEXPERTS Gillian Brookes FLEXGetting the best from flex in a world that’s ever changing Gillian Brookes PERTS
scenarios she has encountered. There’s also an indexed toolkit, a quick reference guide and the option to download additional tools and resources to help with different scenarios or situations that might arise on your flex journey.
Is this book for everyone? If you’re a leader of people – yes, absolutely! Workplaces have to consider hybrid models of working as they never have before to both retain and attract talent. This book is an excellent hands-on resource that will give you everything you need to know to set up a thriving flexible working environment in your organisation.
Lauren Parsons (2023) Thriving Leaders, Thriving Teams.
Published by Live Well Publishing.
Lauren Parsons, an awardwinning wellbeing specialist and another Kiwi, brings a fresh approach to leadership in this book. Split into three parts, it focuses on understanding how you thrive personally, why wellbeing matters and how to cultivate a thriving team. Combining practical advice and resources that can be downloaded, Lauren integrates personal wellbeing into the discussion of leadership and recognises that a true leader’s success is not just determined by what they achieve. She incorporates easy-tounderstand models, practical tips and techniques you can implement immediately. She also offers case studies and anecdotes using a storytelling approach that makes the book both easy to read and enjoyable. Exploring the dynamics of team building and the importance of complete communication, Lauren likens building a thriving team to ‘leading like a master gardener’. An important strength of this book is her ability to break down leadership strategies into easy-to-understand steps. Further, plenty of practical exercises and reflection questions are included at the end of each chapter to really encourage the reader to engage with the concepts she presents.
PODCAST: Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert and Brené Brown.
“The only unique contribution we will make in this world is born out of creativity.” – Brené Brown
If you’ve ever thought that you don’t have a creative bone in your body, this podcast is for you. Elizabeth Gilbert, renowned for her Eat, Pray, Love book (and subsequent movie), discusses the power (and magic) of creativity with Brené Brown, well-known researcher on vulnerability. Brené says in her research she found there is no such thing as noncreative people – just people who use their creativity.
They discuss the fear of putting yourself out there – putting your work out there for all the world to see and the fear of failure. This is where creativity ties in with Brené’s research on vulnerability. The podcast shares insights about creativity, the fear of failure and what you can gain by being the creative individual you were always meant to be. Instead of asking the question, what would you do if you couldn’t fail? How about thinking of it from the perspective of what’s worth doing even if you do fail? It’s about being you and bringing all you offer into the world.
PODCAST: Performance Intelligence with Andrew May
If you’re interested in a variety of perspectives on performance, Andy May has a podcast that will interest you. Andy explores human performance with a wide group of subject matter experts across physical and psychological wellbeing, performance psychology in both sport and business, along with entertainment, the performing arts, leadership and science.
The podcast suits all types of listening time available. There are bite-size podcasts or longer ones up to one hour, depending on your listening availability. Performance is discussed from the perspective of emotional intelligence and the role of mindset in high performance. There’s an interesting ‘bite’ on high performance in the All Blacks, for example.
The podcast series incorporates real-life examples and personal anecdotes from contributors throughout, which makes the content relatable and gives the listener a broad understanding of the intelligence behind performance.
Lynne Allison is an industrial and organisational psychologist and a commercially focused HR practitioner with a diverse background across government, financial/insurance and health IT. She focuses on best practice people management and strategy, and business transformation through the lens of both industrial/organisational psychology and a Lean Six Sigma approach. She is a creative and passionate out-of-the-box thinker committed to driving business performance by bringing others along on the journey and a continuous improvement approach that puts people at the centre.
SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 11
ADVISES DOMAINS OF KNOWLEDGE
Human Resources magazine caught up with Sharon Grant, Rachel Walker and Peter Boxall, three of HRNZ’s Distinguished Fellows, to ask about their careers, their paths to HRNZ Distinguished Fellow accreditation and their thoughts about the role of HR in Aotearoa New Zealand today.
12 HUMAN RESOURCES | SPRING 2023
What have been your career highlights to date?
Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have held a range of different roles. Some of these weren’t in HR, but all of them involved the leadership and development of people. Achieving an executive HR role has been a huge highlight. I enjoy sitting at the executive table and contributing a people-focused lens to organisational strategies and directions. Another career highlight was my three-year term on the HRNZ Board. I really enjoyed working with the team at HRNZ and other Board members, and I believe the governance experience has contributed positively to my other executive leadership roles.
What inspires and motivates you in your career and why?
I’m motivated and inspired by the people I work with. I love seeing people succeed and thrive at work, knowing that myself and my team have been part of shaping an outstanding employment experience. We spend so much of our lives at work, and I believe it should be a place that enhances our mana and wellbeing, and one that we enjoy turning up to each day.
What do you see as the challenges facing the industry and the HR profession?
Some challenges, such as skills shortages and remote working, have been around for a while. Others, such as the growing influence of artificial intelligence, are emerging challenges that we’re watching with interest. The industry-wide challenges that are front of mind for me right now are attracting and retaining talent, managing increasingly demanding workloads (trying to stop being so busy!), enabling authentic workforce diversity and inclusion, and designing successful remote and hybrid work arrangements.
How has HRNZ membership helped your career?
Being a member of HRNZ has profoundly influenced my development as an HR professional. Through HRNZ, I have had the opportunity to participate in numerous professional development courses and conferences, networked widely with peers, been a local HRNZ branch committee member and branch president, been part of the HRNZ Board, experienced the benefits of being both an HRNZ mentor and mentee, and been a member of the Chartering Assessment
Panel. HRNZ has provided me with far more exposure and professional experience than I could have ever gained had I not been part of the Institute. I greatly value the professional standing and credibility the title of Distinguished Fellow offers, and I am excited about the opportunity to contribute further to the profession.
Please describe your journey towards becoming a Distinguished Fellow. How was the experience?
I’ve been a member of HRNZ since 2004 and gained my Chartered membership in 2014. I became an Associate Fellow and then Chartered Fellow in the years following and was extremely honoured to be named a Distinguished Fellow in 2023. My experience at every step of the journey has been positive, and even though I went through the previous chartering system, the experience was valuable, and I felt very well supported by HRNZ. I have always held my chartered status in high regard, and I truly believe it adds value to my standing and credibility as an HR professional. I encourage everyone in HR to set themselves the goal of becoming Chartered, and continue to follow the HRNZ Professional Pathway.
LEADS DOMAINS OF KNOWLEDGE
SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 13
“ I love seeing people succeed and thrive at work, knowing that myself and my team have been part of shaping an outstanding employment experience.
What have been your career highlights to date?
The highlights of my career have been in relation to emergency management. I was asked to take on a couple of pieces of work with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), which is part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC). The first was establishing the New Zealand Emergency Management Assistance Team (NZEMAT). This was a huge, time-constrained programme and involved identifying people around the emergency management sector with relevant skills, but most critically of all, a way of working with others that would be effective. This meant selection processes and designing and holding three 13-day residential (semi-austere) camps to finally select the right people. Seeing the difference that having NZEMAT in place has made in actual emergencies has been amazing.
The second ‘highlight’ would be the role I was asked to take in the initial national response to COVID-19. I supported finding and inducting people from across government to work in the National Crisis Management
to have HR professionals. New generations will always expect things to be different from their predecessors, but the need to meet their values – around issues like climate change, mental health, ways of working, and doing socially meaningful work – will be revolutionary in some environments. Just as we have moved beyond ‘personnel’, contemporary HR’s role at the heart of how people experience the organisation will deepen.
How has HRNZ membership helped your career?
I’d encourage people to keep close to HRNZ as one of the best ways to resource their learning.
Centre in early 2020. I then led the establishment of the business unit within DPMC that carried on beyond that time. The experience and feeling of connection to the national response was so humbling, even if I didn’t get to go home for four and a half months.
What inspires and motivates you in your career and why?
I like making a difference, doing people-centred work that makes it easier for others to achieve what they need to do, and unsticking problems or navigating situations that add to the complexity. I enjoy being part of something that makes a difference in the lives of New Zealanders. I like that it’s often possible to understand the needs of a person others are finding challenging to work with, and the difference that can make to the outcome we are after.
What do you see as the challenges facing the industry and the HR profession?
Our operating context has changed and continues down a new path. The pandemic has really brought flexible working, health and wellbeing, and the use of technology to the fore in most organisations large enough
HRNZ has been a huge part of my career experience, it’s where I met people I value enormously, learned skills and had opportunities (such as escorting Dave Ulrich on his visit during my term) that don’t otherwise come along. There is a vast knowledge base in HRNZ, both from those who have been around awhile and those with a newer or different perspective, so I’d encourage people to keep close to the organisation as one of the best ways to resource their learning.
Please describe your journey towards becoming a Distinguished Fellow. How was the experience?
When I first moved to Dunedin in 2006, I didn’t know anyone in the area, so I joined the local Wild South branch to meet people, eventually becoming the Branch President. Somewhere along the way, I realised I wanted to be what is now a Chartered Member and then I was encouraged to become an elected member of the National Board. Over time, I was elected Vice President and then President (at the time, the President was automatically also the Chair of the National Board, which was a huge workload). In 2011 I was made a Fellow, and at the end of my term in 2016, I was asked to help develop the Chartering programme. Being honoured with the award of Distinguished Fellow was a surprise, and I’m humbled, given who else has this designation.
14 HUMAN RESOURCES | SPRING 2023
What have been your career highlights to date?
It’s always great to see people going through our university programmes and on to good jobs and careers, including those who get jobs as HR specialists, which is less common but very gratifying. Working with doctoral students is always very special. As a researcher, each time you conduct a study that gets published in a good journal, it’s very satisfying. Receiving the Dutch HRM Network Award (from the Professors of HRM in the Dutch universities) in 2003 and 2019 for research contributions to HRM has been a major highlight of my career. In terms of my books, highlights include co-editing the Oxford Handbook of Human Resource Management (Oxford University Press) with John Purcell and Patrick Wright and co-authoring Strategy and Human Resource Management (Bloomsbury Academic) with John Purcell, now in its fifth edition.
What inspires and motivates you in your career and why?
Well, like other HR specialists, I love the people side of organisations. I am fascinated by the way people work and the ways in which management tries to manage them. I am very motivated by studying HRM in organisations and have really
enjoyed working on the theory of strategic HRM and the study of wellbeing at work.
What do you see as the challenges facing the industry and the HR profession?
HR specialists face a crucial challenge in the growth of new technology, including digitalisation and artificial intelligence. They are also affected by the pressing need for organisations to improve their environmental and social sustainability. HR managers and consultants are vital in helping organisations and individuals respond appropriately to these critical trends and develop valuable innovations. The realities and possibilities of work are changing, as are the capabilities and aspirations of the workforce. HR specialists are crucial in enhancing the mutuality of employment relationships in this dynamic context.
How has HRNZ membership helped your career?
I enjoy meeting the people in HRNZ, learning from them and about their working lives, and building relationships with them over the years, including through committees and working parties. HRNZ is an excellent network, and it provides a range of opportunities to learn (eg, through special interest groups,
conferences, webinars and surveys of the membership). The Academic Branch has become an important part of this wider network. We are engaging more effectively with HR professionals and with each other because of it. I have benefitted from all this.
Please describe your journey towards becoming a Distinguished Fellow. How was the experience?
It goes back quite a long way. I became a member of the Institute of Personnel Management sometime in the 1980s, and then, in due course, I became a Member and Fellow of HRINZ and so on. A critical step was advocating for the formation of the Academic Branch in the late 2000s and serving as its inaugural President. A vital part of this was gaining HRNZ’s approval to admit academics to professional (now Chartered) membership based on what they had achieved in the core tasks of their academic jobs (teaching, research, service and leadership in HRM). Getting the HRNZ Research Forums up and running was another highlight, as was being involved in the working party, led by Ross Pearce, that researched and developed the policy recommendations to the HRNZ Board on continuing professional development (CPD).
SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 15 DOMAINS OF KNOWLEDGE
“ I am fascinated by the way people work and the ways in which management tries to manage them.
What’s the risk for employers using AI?
Sianatu Lotoaso, Associate at Dundas Street Employment Lawyers, looks at the steps employers need to take when using generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools in business.
Generative AI is transforming businesses, and the way we work, at a fast rate and shows no sign of slowing down. While many employers are increasingly using AI to automate business systems and processes to create efficiencies or shortcuts, this comes with legal risks and implications that employers must manage.
The recent case of the two US lawyers who used generative AI to prepare legal submissions relying on fake court cases provides a cautionary tale to employers on the pitfalls of AI. Recently, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC)
EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE SIANATU LOTOASO
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released guidance for employers on the potential privacy risks associated with generative AI tools. It provides simple and practical steps employers could take to mitigate their risks from using generative AI.
WHAT IS GENERATIVE AI?
AI is machine or software intelligence that tries to mimic human intelligence. Generative AI is tools or apps that use vast amounts of information, including personal information, to generate content, including audio, code, essays, images or videos, and human-like conversations. Common generative AI tools are ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bing Search and Google’s Bard.
WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
AI can (over)confidently generate seemingly legitimate content, which is inaccurate (known as ‘hallucinations’), including citing non-existent sources. A recent example of this concerns two US lawyers who were fined US$5,000 for submitting fake court cases generated by ChatGPT (a chatbot that produces plausible text responses to human prompts).
Steven Schwartz said he used the AI ChatGPT to research cases to support his client’s case against the Colombian airline Avianca for an injury incurred on a flight and that, according to the Mata v Avianca case, he “just never thought it could be made up”. Peter LoDuca, who also worked on the case, said that he did not review any of the cases cited by Schwartz. Rather, he simply believed that the work produced by Schwartz, a colleague of more than 25 years, was reliable, and said that it “never crossed my mind” the cases were bogus.
US District Judge Castel held that while “there is nothing inherently improper about using a reliable artificial intelligence tool for assistance”, lawyers still had a “gatekeeping role” to ensure the accuracy of their work.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner guide also sets out practical steps for New Zealand employers to take when it comes to using generative AI tools in their business, including the following.
1. Review whether the use of generative AI is necessary and proportionate.
2. Only use a generative AI tool after conducting a privacy impact assessment to identify and mitigate privacy risks.
3. Be transparent with customers and clients about how their personal information will be used and how potential privacy risks are being addressed.
4. Have a human review the outputs of any generative AI tool before taking any action to help mitigate the risk of acting on inaccurate or biased information.
5. Businesses should only share personal or confidential information if there is explicit confirmation from the AI tool provider that inputted data is not retained or disclosed by it.
Schwartz and LoDuca had “abandoned their responsibilities when they submitted nonexistent judicial opinions with fake quotes and citations created by the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT, then continued to stand by the fake opinions after judicial orders called their existence into question”.
If that was not the end of it, Judge Castel also dismissed their client’s case against Avianca.
“ Ultimately, the employer (and not the AI tool provider) is responsible for compliance with New Zealand privacy laws.
OFFICE OF THE PRIVACY COMMISSIONER’S GUIDANCE ON GENERATIVE AI
The OPC has released guidance setting out its position that the “responsibility of complying with the requirements of the Privacy Act lies with agencies (whether in the public, private, or not-forprofit sectors)”. This means that, ultimately, the employer (and not the AI tool provider) is responsible for compliance with New Zealand privacy laws.
The OPC also sets out the top risks for employers using AI, including the following.
1. Generative AI relies on inputted data for the AI tool to operate. This
presents a risk that, to the extent businesses share confidential and personal information with an AI tool, it may not have privacy protections in place, or the information is disclosed.
2. Generative AI can perpetuate bias and discrimination and can produce “confident errors of fact” (as seen in the US case above). This can include recruitment processes using generative AI where certain candidates are not favoured over others on the basis of their race, gender or other protected grounds.
3. Generative AI tools may not allow businesses to be compliant with their privacy obligations.
While the development of AI is inevitable and has significant benefits for the workplace, there are also potential pitfalls and risks to employers, which must be actively managed.
Sianatu Lotoaso is an Associate at Dundas Street Employment Lawyers. Sianatu provides advice on all aspects of employment law and the employment relationship. Sianatu regularly provides advice to a range of clients in the public and private sectors. continuous improvement approach that puts people at the centre.
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Fight for privacy
David Burton, an Employment Law Barrister, looks at a recent case involving the use of biometric recognition technology for timekeeping and attendance records.
As technology continues to evolve to help us with our businesses, HR professionals also have to consider the impact of technology and how this may affect the workplace. This may include being involved in restructuring the workplace if work is to be done differently or more efficiently with new technology. It may also involve the implementation of new technology to assist HR systems and monitoring in the workplace.
Fingerprints are a unique biological characteristic of a person; they have long been recognised as an
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effective and accurate way of identifying someone. The recent decision of the Employment Relations Authority in Fonterra v Lanigan involved the introduction of fingerprint scanning technology (FST) for timekeeping and attendance. By using biometric technology, Fonterra wanted to reduce the administration time needed to support the collection of timekeeping and attendance data required by law to be kept, eliminate or reduce the opportunity to falsify or misuse information about timekeeping and attendance, and improve accuracy and consistency generally in computing employees’ pay, leave and other statutory and contractual entitlements.
The protection of encryption offered by Fonterra’s FST system is high. It instantaneously converts raw data (the fingerprints) to a numerical code. Once encrypted, the data cannot be decrypted. The fingerprints are not copied or stored but are converted to a binary code from which a person’s fingerprint cannot be recreated.
Mr Lanigan and about 30 other employees in the Maintenance Team at Fonterra’s Takanini plant were the last employees to resist the introduction of FST in Fonterra’s large workforce of around 8,000 employees. Mr Lanigan did not consent to offering his fingerprints to enable his registration for using the FST technology. He considered that, by doing so, his privacy would be intruded upon and that Fonterra could not legally require him to do so by way of a direction or instruction.
The Authority noted there is a term implied in law in every employment agreement, requiring an employee to comply with a lawful and reasonable direction of their employer. The term is necessary to give practical effect to the right of an employer to exercise control over an employee. The direction must not be inconsistent with any express term of the employment
agreement and must also be reasonable and lawful.
The Authority also considered the Privacy Act 1993 and the earlier Employment Court decision of OCS Ltd v SFWU and accepted that finger scanning technology had been approved in other jurisdictions, such as Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada, and that some principles could be extracted.
• Is the technology compatible with the contractual obligations of the parties?
• There is to be a balance between the need for the technology and the level of personal intrusiveness involved for the individual concerned.
• The employer has the right to introduce different systems of timekeeping technology subject only to reasonable consideration of valid concerns raised by the union and employees.
• The employer must take appropriate steps to inform employees of the new measures and to obtain their consent.
The Court in OCS Ltd noted that, in our jurisdiction, there is a general requirement to consult under the good faith obligations before implementing changes in workplace practices.
In analysing the introduction of FST at Fonterra, the Authority concluded that Fonterra had a lawful purpose connected to its role as an employer in wanting to collect biometric information from Mr Lanigan and the other workers.
In respect of the ability of Fonterra to give a lawful and reasonable instruction about the use of FST by Mr Lanigan, the Authority said that this is limited or qualified by the requirements for consultation and good faith behaviour.
The Authority found that Fonterra did have a discretion when selecting its systems and may exercise its business
judgement as to what will best meet its needs. It said that this discretion appears to have been properly applied within the boundaries of the Privacy Act 1993. The Authority also found that Fonterra did genuinely endeavour to balance the interests of Mr Lanigan in preserving his privacy against the benefits of using FST. It said that the level of intrusiveness into the privacy of Fonterra’s employees was at the lower end. The relatively slight intrusion on the privacy of Mr Lanigan and others was weighed up fairly alongside Fonterra’s business needs.
Accordingly, the Authority declared that Fonterra could lawfully and reasonably instruct Mr Lanigan to use the FST system for the purposes of recording time and attendance at work.
Should Mr Lanigan fail to follow such a lawful and reasonable instruction, it will be open to Fonterra to commence a disciplinary process with Mr Lanigan that may result in his dismissal should he continue to refuse to use the FST system.
David Burton is an Employment Law Barrister. David has over 30 years of employment law experience in Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas. His expertise is recognised by his peers. For six years, he was appointed to the Employment Law Committee of the New Zealand Law Society. Before that, he served on the Workplace Relations and Employment Law Sub-committee of the Law Institute of Victoria, Australia. For more information, visit www.burtonlaw.co.nz.
Fonterra Brands (New Zealand) Limited v Lanigan  NZERA
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Artificial intelligence – taking the human out of HR?
Melika Soleimani and colleagues from Massey University summarise how artificial intelligence (AI) is currently used in HR and offer practical implications for its application.
Technological transformation promises hope in response to existential challenges such as climate change and population ageing, but also fears such as fewer and poorer quality jobs. One of today’s biggest controversies concerns AI. An AI system has a degree of autonomy based on machine learning (ML), whereby computers are trained with large datasets to evaluate new situations without recourse to further programming. Generative AI (such as ChatGPT or DALL-E) produces original text or images based on previous works, whereas predictive AI employs statistical analyses
to make forecasts and, if set up as such, recommendations and even decisions.
The use of AI systems in business and management is now ubiquitous across functions such as marketing, finance, design, engineering, logistics and increasingly HRM. The principal HR applications are threefold:
• recruitment and selection, where AI analyses textual and visual data to screen, interview and assess applicants.
• algorithmic work management to direct workers (through task ordering and labour
SOLEIMANI, JIM ARROWSMITH, ALI INTEZARI, DAVID PAULEEN, NAZIM TASKIN
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scheduling), evaluate workers (by performance monitoring and rating) and discipline workers (through rewards and penalties). This is widely deployed across sectors such as logistics, manufacturing, retail, hospitality and call centres. The shift to homeworking under COVID-19 also accelerated its deployment in white-collar occupations.
• people analytics, whereby data are analysed to identify patterns and make predictions to inform decisions around, for example, training and development, turnover intentions and incentives. These technologies can be used to improve objectivity as well as efficiency in decision-making. It is well known that individuals commonly rely on intuition and heuristics, especially in situations like recruitment and selection, where there is little direct information to rely on. Recruiters may also deploy cognitive biases, often unconsciously, that result in a ‘similar-to-me’ effect favouring some groups and individuals over others.
“ The more perspectives you have, the more diversity you have in building algorithms, the more representative it might be.
There are also worries about algorithmic bias. This can enter AI systems through the training data (based, say, on older white males) and the reductive nature of the algorithms. This means the application of AI in employment requires close supervision to investigate potential bias, as well as other errors and limitations, and reformulate algorithms accordingly.
To explore how well this is happening, we interviewed 22 senior HR managers and 17 AI developers about the use of AI in recruitment and selection. We found that AI was routinely used, but two sets of problems emerged. The first was communication difficulties
• First, employers should cooperate to build relevant New Zealand-focused datasets. New Zealand has unique characteristics in terms of its culture, economy and size that data needs to better encapsulate.
• Second, the HR profession needs to further embrace ‘hard’ technical skills as well as people-focused competencies, if it is to credibly drive conversations with developers and IT specialists within the organisation.
• Third, both AI specialists and HR professionals would benefit from training to understand the perspectives and vocabulary of their partners. The AI developers we spoke to tended to problematise in specific ways, whereas HR practitioners perceive issues and situations as complex and ambiguous.
between the groups because of educational, professional and demographic divergence. Most of the HR managers (all but five of whom were women) had limited technical competency and relied on the developers to articulate what could or should be done. Of the AI developers, all but two were male, and they were a much younger cohort with relatively little workplace experience, an average total of four years as opposed to fourteen for the HR professionals.
A second issue inhibiting organisational contextualisation was the shortage of HR datasets, especially from Aotearoa, for training and developing ML models. To some extent, this can be mitigated by techniques such as data augmentation or aggregation, or the use of ‘synthetic data’ to expand dataset size. However, these creative solutions also require greater effort and cost. Instead, generic and proprietorial systems were more likely to be deployed.
Further research is required to assess how far these issues might compromise the objectivity and equity of AI-based recruitment and selection systems.
In short, more effective collaboration is required. Many of the AI specialists appealed for this so that HR can help them build and annotate relevant data as well as supervise the testing and evaluation of the models. As one
developer put it, “It’s important to have diverse groups of HR and AI experts working on building those algorithms. The more perspectives you have, the more diversity you have in building algorithms, the more representative it might be.’’
The professional identity of the HRM function is that it serves the business, and it does this through the equitable and responsible treatment of employees. Algorithmic HRM is shifting decision-making responsibility from human to machine, raising ethical issues around transparency, accountability and potentially embedded discrimination based on race, gender, age, or even subtle characteristics such as personality type. The everyday use of AI means that mathematical skills will increasingly be required of HR professionals to help shape and monitor AI tools that are fit for purpose. This will better serve the business, employees, and the HR profession itself, and thereby keep the human at the forefront of HR.
Dr Melika Soleimani completed her doctorate at Massey Business School (MBS) in 2022 and is currently a data analyst at Southern Cross Health Care. Her supervisory team was Professors Jim Arrowsmith and David Pauleen (MBS), Dr Ali Intezari and Dr Nazim Taskin.
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SPOTLIGHT AMY CLARKE
Demystifying Professional Accreditation: Emerging Professional accreditation
In this article, the first in our Demystifying Professional Accreditation series, we’ll focus on our Emerging Professional (EP) accreditation, the perfect step to take in your career journey if you’re looking to demonstrate your commitment to becoming a leading HR professional.
HRNZ’s Emerging Professional Member accreditation is the accreditation for early career HR professionals.
Nick McKissack, HRNZ’s CEO and one of the assessors of our Emerging Professional applications, shares with us tips and tricks for new applicants, what the accreditation has helped do for professionals early in their HR journeys, what he looks for in applications, as well as common misconceptions about the EP accreditation.
WHO IS THIS ACCREDITATION FOR?
Our EP accreditation is perfect for HR professionals in the early stages of their careers who are looking to demonstrate their commitment to developing a high standard of HR practice, and their capability to operate in the unique environment here in Aotearoa New Zealand. HR practitioners who have been working in HR for more than 18 months, either in a generalist or specialist role, like a recruitment coordinator or advisor, benefit most from the recognition of their skills and experience from a professional
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For early career HR professionals who commenced a career in HR and are committed to the profession and continuing professional development
For experienced HR professionals who are committed to and leading the profession, and demonstrating a high level of their professional capabilities
membership body. More seasoned HR practitioners can also apply for EP accreditation or can look into our Chartered Member accreditation.
WHAT DO I NEED TO HAVE DONE IN MY CAREER SO FAR TO BE SUCCESSFUL IF I DO APPLY FOR EMERGING PROFESSIONAL ACCREDITATION?
We assess against specific criteria, which include being able to demonstrate all core capabilities of The Path at the ‘Delivers’ level as a minimum. You also need to have experience working in at least two Domains of Knowledge, one of which must be in:
• Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
• Employment Relations
• Health, Safety and Wellbeing
• Attraction, Recruitment and Selection
• Remuneration and Rewards
• Learning and Development
• HR Administration.
Head to the website if you’re not familiar with the terminology of The Path. Generally speaking, most people with at least 18 months of experience in an HR role will be able to demonstrate the criteria above.
WHERE HAVE THESE CRITERIA COME FROM?
The Path has been a massive undertaking over the past two years involving hundreds of HR professionals, CEOs, board directors and other experienced professionals who have helped us identify what great HR practice looks like and the skills needed for tomorrow’s HR leaders. The framework is now being used by organisations all over Aotearoa; some even use it for their
Longstanding HR professionals who have contributed highly to the profession and HRNZ
For time-honoured HR professionals who have contributed a lifetime of dedication to the profession and HRNZ
WHAT IF I HAVE MORE THAN 18 MONTHS OF EXPERIENCE, BUT THE SELF-ASSESSMENT SAYS I’M NOT QUITE READY TO APPLY FOR CHARTERED MEMBERSHIP?
We’re currently working on a solution for this – watch this space. In the meantime, you can create a plan to get yourself on a path for Chartered Membership.
IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT ARE COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT EP ACCREDITATION?
remuneration benchmarking. So being aligned with the framework as a professional is an excellent step in your career.
WHAT ELSE ARE YOU LOOKING FOR WHEN ASSESSING AN EMERGING PROFESSIONAL APPLICATION?
We are looking for someone with good foundational experience in HR and a passion for the profession and their development. It’s also crucial that our future leaders in HR have a good understanding of the role of bicultural HR practice, which means EP applicants need to be able to show how they’re applying core principles of bicultural practice like manaakitanga (uplifting others through care and support) and whanaungatanga (developing authentic relationships) to their everyday HR work.
In addition, because HR is an ever-changing field, we’re looking for people to have made a commitment early in their career to good habits around continually improving and updating their knowledge.
ANY TIPS OR ADVICE FOR POTENTIAL APPLICANTS?
Look into the EP accreditation process now. Even if you’re not quite ready to apply, it’s never too early to start on a path to accreditation. Our new capability framework, The Path, provides clear guidance on what practitioners can expect to be doing at each stage of their careers. These tools can help you identify specific areas of development you can embed in your professional development plan with your mentor or manager.
That it’s only for early career professionals. If you’re not quite ready to apply for Chartered Membership, Emerging Professional is a great place to start. We’re working on a solution for mid-career professionals between EP accreditation and Chartered Membership, so stay tuned.
Another misconception is that it’s only for HR generalists. The Path has been built to recognise generalist and specialist practitioners, so regardless of where you are in an HR team or HR-adjacent role, there’s a place for you in our development pathway.
WHAT DOES EP ACCREDITATION GIVE YOU, AND WHY SHOULD I APPLY?
Simply put, EP accreditation gives you professional recognition and starts you on your journey as one of our accredited members alongside our Chartered Members, Chartered Fellows and Distinguished Fellows. Accreditation provides a simple way of communicating your skills and abilities to others (including non-HR people).
Criteria for our EP accreditation represent the foundational building blocks for great HR leaders. The assessment criteria are fully transparent, so those that achieve the EP accreditation can show these criteria to current or potential employers to demonstrate the level they are capable of working at. It also shows your commitment to the professionalism of HR as a discipline, which can be a great talking point, especially early on in your career.
DELIVERS SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 23 DOMAINS OF KNOWLEDGE
Jacinta Schultz, Technology Transformation
Lead at HRNZ, shares the progress of HRNZ’s latest technology project for transforming the organisation’s digital offering.
decided to implement Microsoft Dynamics and upgrade our existing website.
Project Kōtuitui is well under way. We were excited to launch our new website and supporting backend technology on 30 August 2023.
We are delighted to bring these changes to our members. The launch of our new technology will mean benefits for you.
1. the website will look different and will be easier to navigate
members and enhance your member experience.
Late last year, HRNZ launched the new capability framework – The Path –which resulted in changes to our accreditation process. In parallel, the team at HRNZ has been working on a review of its core technology systems. Through this process, the team identified that we lacked an in-depth understanding of our members. As a result, we initiated Project Kōtuitui to update our core systems. We identified three main challenges we needed to address:
• developing a more Chartered Membership centric process (Professional Accreditation journey)
• enabling personalised content for members (the right resources at the right time)
• improving the end-toend experience of event provisioning and registration.
We undertook widespread research to understand what technologies would support our ongoing strategy and meet our main requirements. We evaluated several solutions and
2. we will ask you to update your contact details and complete a self-assessment questionnaire that aligns with The Path framework, so we can tailor personalised content and events specific to you and your journey as an HR professional
3. the path to Chartering and Emerging Professional accreditations will be clear and easy to follow via our member portal
4. event registration will include more automated checks, to ensure you purchase tickets at the correct rates and the member records are updated accordingly
5. continuing professional development (CPD) points for HRNZ event attendance will be added seamlessly by checking in at an event or clicking ‘add points’ after the event via your member profile.
The introduction of new backof-house technology will also introduce efficiencies in our business processes. This will mean staff have more capacity to support
We aren’t stopping here and have plans beyond the initial project. We recognise that Organisation Package members are a growing portion of our member base. So we have plans to introduce a new Organisation Package-specific portal, thus making booking tickets and updating details much more straightforward for our Organisation Package members. We are confident the changes we are making will deliver an enhanced personalised member experience and support us to grow and deliver our business strategy in the future.
Jacinta Schultz joined HRNZ in September 2022 to lead the digital technology transformation, ensuring we offer HRNZ members an innovative, personalised experience that aligns with our overarching organisation strategy. Jacinta is a delivery professional with over 15 years of experience in roles focusing on enabling process improvement via the delivery of future-proof technology while ensuring business benefits are met. Her interests are leading meaningful change through innovation and continuous improvement.
HR SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGY JACINTA SCHULTZ
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Features 26 View from the inside 30 Why IT and HR need to become ‘best friends’ 34 What’s the future of recruitment 38 How can technology support a flexible workforce? SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 25
View from the inside
Disruptive technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) are becoming increasingly important tools for HR professionals. Kathy Catton speaks with tech companies around Aotearoa New Zealand, to find out how they leverage its power.
HR teams have a lot to gain from the ever-growing digital world and the Big Data it contains. What kinds of benefits are HR teams seeing, and how have they used IT to change the way they work with people? And what are the risks or pitfalls?
EMBRACING THE BENEFITS
Karly Boast is Vice-President of People at LawVu, the software and service company specialising in providing a virtual workspace for in-house legal teams around the globe. Based in Tauranga, Karly is a passionate believer in the power of tech as a force for good in the HR space.
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“I think there’s a lot of apprehension about what the integration of ChatGPT and generative AI can mean for HR,” says Karly. “But if you approach it with curiosity and an open mindset, you can start to see how it can propel us forward, gain competitive advantage and make us better HR professionals.”
At LawVu, Karly is using tech and AI to do a large amount of HR’s work. “All our recruitment, candidate experience, onboarding, performance management and learning and development is done through Bamboo HR, Deel and other AI platforms,” says Karly. “It’s really useful for data reporting, seeing trends and gaining insights. We use this data to help make informed decisions at an executive level.”
For Karly and LawVu, the benefits of using tech and AI are significant. Response times are accelerated, errors are reduced and processes are streamlined. “The biggest thing is that it offers invaluable insights that help us make strategic decisions and make us impactful at the top table,” says Karly. “And it actually personalises the employee experience, through algorithms tailoring learning and development to each individual.”
Karly is also clear about the pitfalls of using a system of ‘one truth’. She says, “You’ve still got to do your research and get legal advice. But I firmly believe that innovation is not solely about embracing technology. It’s about recognising the intrinsic value of human-centric approaches and the power of emotional intelligence. By combining cutting-edge technology with a human touch, we can unlock new levels of productivity, engagement and growth.”
Rachael Hurren, GM People and Development at Inde Technology, an Aotearoa IT services company, states that the case for AI in most New Zealand-based small companies still needs to be justified.
“There needs to be a large amount of investment to train a ‘bot’ to assimilate all of our employment legislation and make it meaningful to the New Zealand audience,” says Rachael. “We can’t just take a US bot and expect it to apply to our environment.”
But the advantages of using technology are significant. Time-saving is an obvious benefit, as well as improved data accuracy. Inde, for example, has
recently worked with a utility company to provide a smooth onboarding process.
“In the past, onboarding had been a lengthy process, involving forms and photocopying going between HR, IT and various other departments to get the individual set-up and ready to work,” says Reece Mitchell, Technical Director – Integration and Automation at Inde. “Typically it was taking our client one day for each new join. For a company bringing in up to 20 people in a busy week, that takes up a lot of time. Our organisation looked to streamline the whole process by creating a custom-built lowcode app for the hiring manager to disseminate the information to the relevant departments at the touch of a button, so that on day one, the employee has a laptop ready to go with everything set up for them. It’s saved huge amounts of time and ensured total accuracy.”
And this doesn’t take away the human aspect. As Rachael says, it’s about being careful where you use this technology. “You could onboard a person by getting them to watch training videos and sit in front of a computer to understand all the policies and processes, but this would lose the human aspect. At Inde, one of our values is collaboration, so it’s vital for us to get the new joins to meet all the different teams within the company. Our induction process is very human-based.”
The removal of human error by the use of technology is also a significant positive impact of using technology. Rachael says, “I knew of an example where an employee named Bill was set up manually and incorrectly in the system as ‘John’, and so for that employee, he continually had to correct people on his name. The system didn’t allow for a change. I always wondered how welcomed this individual felt and what his level of engagement was, all because of a human data entry error.”
Rachael also highlights HR’s role in managing any technological change. “Instead of people
Karly Boast is Vice-President of People at LawVu
Rachael Hurren is GM People and Development at Inde
SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 27 DOMAINS OF KNOWLEDGE
Reece Mitchell is Technical Director –Integration and Automation at Inde
coming to work to fill their days with data entry, the increase in technology could change that perspective to ‘now my job is about achieving the strategic goals of the organisation’ and ‘how am I going to do that?’.”
Tim Warren, CEO of Ambit, based in Auckland, believes AI could take over around 80 per cent of HR’s function. “Technology is changing all roles,” he says. “But for HR there is so much technology already with us and coming soon that could make a big difference to the role.”
For example, the tech company’s AI conversational chatbot can handle most generic HR questions employees may have. “People tend to think that AI needs to have all the possible answers programmed into it, but that’s not the case,” says Tim. “AI works best when there isn’t a determined solution, as it can look at vast amounts of options and compare them simultaneously.”
While this may seem scary for some HR professionals, Tim says if you’re at the start of designing a technological solution, it’s a good idea to build strong security and parameters at the beginning.
Tim is already using AI with onboarding, and technology is very much a part of life for the team at Ambit. “We use Slack as our main conversational tool, Trello as our task tool and Confluence as our record system,” he says. “Every organisation will need to determine the right fit for them. It’s all about organisational readiness.”
A SPRINGBOARD FOR ACCELERATION
Heather Polaschek, Head of People and Culture at RUSH Digital, which developed the Covid Tracer App (amongst other things), has used the ChatGPT language model for many applications within the HR function since the start of the year. Heather saw straightaway how it could make her role more efficient, by helping her write job advertisements, job descriptions, interview questions and template letters. She also uses it to build a learning management system within Google Classrooms, where all the company’s learning and development material is kept.
“With a headcount of over 80 people, I do a lot of the learning and development within the organisation,” says Heather. “I recently needed to create a
TIM’S TIPS FOR ORGANISATIONAL READINESS: AI AND GPT
• Define who owns the AI policies and define who is responsible and who needs to be informed.
• Do a SWOT analysis to highlight risks, threats and opportunities for your business.
• Start early in forming your AI and GPT policies and frameworks – guidelines should be shared with and understood by your staff.
• Draft an executive summary for AI and GPT organisational readiness.
• Agree on what tasks external tools CAN and CANNOT be used for.
• Communicate the policies and guidelines to your team, customers and partners.
For more information and examples, see Tim’s report here
micro-learning module on change management. ChatGPT gave me a list of ten frameworks, and then I worked with one of the frameworks to create a module for staff.”
As a springboard for Heather for many applications, ChatGPT helps her to design competency frameworks for roles and compare roles on seniority, for example.
“It’s meant I can work at speed and also have a tool for analysing data quickly and gaining insights that I can use throughout the business,” says Heather. “It’s led to more innovation and efficiency.”
Heather exercises caution when working with the AI tool, saying the organisation doesn’t currently use the language tool for recruiting or promoting. “My recruiter and I still have some concerns about the bias of AI,” says Heather. “For instance, it can skew the data and have a gender bias. If the AI algorithm is trained on biased data, it can reinforce existing prejudices
Tim Warren is CEO of Ambit
Heather Polaschek is Head of People and Culture at RUSH Digital.
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against certain groups. I’m worried that the tools can’t yet overcome this bias.”
It’s for that reason that Heather believes HR will continue to be an invaluable function within organisations. “We can’t totally trust it. If you’re using the tools, you still need the HR knowledge to know whether what it’s telling you is factual and correct. We must also be mindful that we are not using any personal data when we input to ChatGPT, as privacy is crucial.”
FINDING THE BALANCE
The crux of HR’s success lies in our adeptness at continuing to grow skills such emotional intelligence and relationship building, particularly given the rate of change of all things technological in the workplace. It’s a balance between harnessing the potential of AI technology while also augmenting our humancentric best practices.
TIPS FROM HEADS OF HR ON HOW TO DEAL WITH AI AND TECHNOLOGY
• Adopt a growth mindset and be curious about the possibilities.
• Keep humans front and centre of your decision-making.
• Network with others in HR and find out what they are using and how it’s working for them.
• Start with small steps to see what can be automated and where AI and technology can add value and save time.
• Try experimenting with different prompts within ChatGPT to get the best results for your organisation. Various cheat sheets are also available online.
• Talk to your IT team about how you could eliminate paper processes. “Most HR teams I work with say they didn’t know what was possible before they spoke to IT,” says Reece.
SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 29 Membership transferable to another employee All staff get HRNZ Member discounts for HR101 and HR Foundations courses ($200-$400 pp.) All staff get access to the HRNZ Magazine online Discounted membership fee for group purchase Got a Team of 5 or More? People powered success For more information please contact Steve Mooney (Membership Manager) via email Steve Mooney@hrnz org nz Check out our organisational membership package DOMAINS OF KNOWLEDGE
Why IT and HR need to become ‘best
Melissa Crawford, Director at Tech with Heart, shares a vision for HR departments working with technology and provides practical tips on what HR needs to be considering now.
Remember that famous Gallup question “I have a best friend at work”? The future of HR depends on HR and IT building a closer relationship than they ever have before. They need each other.
They have strengths the other is weak in, if only they could get past their insecurities and fears about each other! I have a great love for both of these teams because I have worked in each and I see their magic. I think it’s crucial for both sides to learn more from each other, because it could greatly improve the impacts and unintended consequences on humanity.
ANALYTICS AND DATA SCIENCE MELISSA CRAWFORD
30 HUMAN RESOURCES | SPRING 2023
Let’s take ChatGPT, for example. Many IT teams had already started playing with it at the end of 2022. At multiple conferences I spoke at across June and July 2023, I queried adoption by HR: most had still not ventured to create themselves a login and were going only on what they had heard from others. ChatGPT had a million users in five days after its launch in November 2022 and now has over 100 million users. It logged 1.6 billion visits to the site in June 2023. The moral of the story: your people, future employees and competitors are definitely using it! While IT is thinking about security and data protection and how to save themselves time by getting ChatGPT to write their first drafts of code, HR should be thinking about several things, including:
• what it means for a likely shift in required capabilities
• how HR will manage their first disciplinary incident stemming from an email sent that it eventuates was written by ChatGPT
• how HR could take an HR Assist Chat bot to a whole other level to free up valuable time.
The few HR people on board with ChatGPT were excited about its ability to write job descriptions and job adverts. But I believe we need to be thinking much deeper than that.
ARE OUR PEOPLE READY?
What are the human impacts of tools like ChatGPT? What is the behaviour it will change in the workplace? How could it radically shift our future workforce requirements? And how do we, as HR, get in front of it rather than watch it unfold and then play catchup? With Microsoft 365 Copilot launching in the upcoming months, this technology could be in the hands of all your Microsoft users to apply to their daily tasks in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Are they ready for it? Are you ready for it?
This is a perfect opportunity to be talking to your new friends in IT and building a relationship to look at new tech from a tech and people perspective. Think about policies this could affect, future risks in the HR space and, strategically, how this could shift ways of working and future workforces.
In several companies I have worked at over the years, I have been the one sent as a ‘sacrificial lamb’ to sit in the tech project meetings. These
meetings were seen as nerdy, boring, techy but important to be seen to be involved. Of course, I actually enjoyed them and delighted in shocking the odd unsuspecting IT professional who took me for a ‘tree hugger’ and was taken aback to see me throwing in the fix to a piece of code they were stuck on.
When I look back now, I realise that my colleagues missed the opportunity to upskill themselves on tech developments, ask questions at the initial stages of development and see first-hand how much value the people element could add to those discussions.
GET INVOLVED AND UNDERSTAND THE IMPLICATIONS
Just as you in HR may not think about whether that new system you are fighting for has a current ‘Pentest,’ IT will not be thinking about how that technology may change the entire shape of your capability framework and therefore your recruitment selection process and talent framework. Look for ways to get involved and help identify ‘people’ risks as well as standard security, financial and project timing risks.
For years I lamented as I watched customer service teams get the tech investment and modern systems. But over the past few years (ironically especially since COVID-19), HR has had a big refocus on technology with HR technology spend the highest priority two years in a row, according to Gartner.
This is great news, but it is important that HR fully understands the implications of this. Artificial intelligence (AI) is creeping into most modern HR platforms now. When I talk to clients about what algorithms their application tracking system (ATS) is using to create the filters and pipelines for their talent, they often have no idea what they are, nor do they test and revise them regularly to check machine learning is going in the direction they are assuming. This is having all sorts of side effects.
RAPID GROWTH NOT SLOWING
LEADS SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 31 Source https://explodingtopics.com/blog/chatgpt-users DOMAINS OF KNOWLEDGE TIME TAKE TO REACH 1 MILLION USERS Time taken to reach 1 million users (days) Threads ChatGPT Instagram Spotify Dropbox Facebook Foursquare Twitter Airbnb Kickstarter Netflix 0 500 1,000 Online Service
HR INVESTMENT AREAS
of HR Leaders Planning to Increase Budget
One of these side effects includes candidates putting a copy of the job description into their CV in white-coloured text so it is detected by AI as a ‘perfect candidate’ and hence put through to the ‘top candidates’ list. This primary school-level magician ‘invisible ink’ trickery is not detected by the recruiter’s eye. This may seem sneaky, but it raises an interesting point. I know of multiple examples of superb candidates not getting through an ATS’s AI and when I have shown the recruiting manager the output of how their ATS rated and discarded that candidate, they are horrified. A fun exercise is to put yourself through for a vacancy for your own role: do you make the cut?
A VISION FOR HR WORKING WITH TECHNOLOGY
Ioften get asked ‘Which company are you seeing as the most tech savvy in their internal HR in New Zealand?’ Sadly, I am still looking. Sure,
many have just updated some of their systems and put something interesting in. But my vision would include an HR team that:
• has a full HR technology strategy that sets them up for success now and in the future
• has their fingers on the pulse of what is ahead and the changes they are going to need to make
• has a plan on how to take their people on this journey, understanding changing expectations, behaviours, needs, digital capability
• means the HR department is maximising the data and insights as a bigger picture view rather than transactional reports from each system that never appreciate the correlation between the data
• creates a strong relationship with HR and IT teams that upskills each other on people psychology and technology trends
• includes a people aspect that would help support that tech focus, with a strong HR culture that role models the best people practices, their people are thriving so much that the rest of the business is clambering for some of what they have.
These are my wishes for the future.
Often, HR teams are not keeping abreast of the latest technology in their field. When they join with IT to review systems, sadly IT is also not on top of what is leading in the HR world. IT is often more focused on how the technology sits in the company’s tech stack and elements of their security and data integrity features. It is the blind leading the blind. Both are well intentioned but missing the opportunity to really move the people function forward.
Unless you already knew what it meant, how many of you went and Googled what I said a few paragraphs ago about a Pentest? That is the sort of
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Source Gartner 2023
HR Technology 46% Staffing and Recruiting 45% Total Rewards 41% ▲ Total Rewards up from 5th in 2022 Learning and Development 41% Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) 36% Talent Analytics 33% ▲ Talent Analytics up from 9th in 2022 Talent Management 31% Organisational Development 27% Payroll and Employee Administration 23% 0% 25% 50% n = 118 HR Leaders
learning curiosity I am looking for HR to have.
Remember when COVID-19 struck and we had to re-evaluate how we helped leaders to upskill to lead remote teams? What is our vaccination policy? How do we onboard remotely? How do we keep our people engaged? How do we transfer all the learning into something they can do remotely?
One of my idols, Peter Diamandis, said, ‘in the next decade we will see the same amount of change as in the last century.’ If that does not prompt you to start getting more interested in what is coming, I don’t know what will. I really want ‘people people’ to play a major role in upskilling, supporting and preparing people for this future.
Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality and metaverses are the biggest technological developments to keep your eye on for a start. The next generation coming into the workforce will have extensive knowledge on how these apply to their personal worlds and therefore expectations on what tools should be available to them in their workplace. We know from demographic studies that fewer people are entering the workforce, we know that technology holds the key to creating an augmented workforce that uses the best of technology and the best of people. Wouldn’t it make sense for us to build a closer friendship between the two departments that will shape the future of work? I think so.
Melissa Crawford is the Director of Tech with Heart and a highly regarded expert in the future of work. With a unique blend of skills that span both people and technology, Melissa has won several accolades and held senior HR strategy roles across some of New Zealand’s largest organisations crossing diverse industries. With two technology degrees, Melissa brings a unique perspective and is well equipped to understand the impact of technology on the future of work. With her wealth of expertise and commitment to shaping a better future, Melissa is also a CMHRNZ, CMInstD and an independent director on the board for HRNZ. techwithheart.co.nz
SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 33 Read back issues of Human Resources online at: hrnz.org.nz/news/hr-magazine DOMAINS OF KNOWLEDGE
What’s the future of recruitment
Sam Collins, Managing Director of recruitment company People&co, and Dr Amanda Williamson, Generative-AI Lead at Deloitte New Zealand, discuss the impacts and challenges of artificial intelligence in HR and recruitment.
AN INTRODUCTION TO CHATGPT: FROM SCEPTICISM TO BELIEF
SAM: I remember when I first hit the ‘Try ChatGPT’ button on OpenAI early in December 2022, wanting to see what all the fuss was about. After a few minutes of plugging in the standard questions that a quick Google could easily tackle (How tall is the Eiffel Tower? What’s a good cheese scone recipe?), my partner and I decided to ask something a bit harder: the central question to my partner’s Master’s thesis. The response that came back was eerily close to the argument and rationale she had laid out a few years
HR SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGY SAM COLLINS AMANDA WILLIAMSON
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prior as part of obtaining her degree. It wasn’t just a straight regurgitation of her work, and some parts of it didn’t pass closer scrutiny, but that was the lightbulb moment for me where I realised this technology, which had been filed in my mind as ‘science fiction’, was now looking a lot more like it belongs under ‘reality’.
AMANDA: People from all walks of life are realising the benefits of AI, and generative AI tools are increasingly being used as assistants across a wide range of human resource tasks. Such tools have been shown to boost productivity in writing tasks by 59 per cent , even producing highly original ideas , thereby driving more fulfilling work and better client experiences. Generative AI is distinct from the AI that preceded it, because it has democratised access to artificial intelligence. AI is now something we can all leverage, not just computer programmers.
REALISING AI’S SHORTCOMINGS
SAM: In the weeks and months that followed, with more hours spent exploring this new tech (to me, at least!), some of its limitations and shortcomings have become more apparent, and that initial magic has faded somewhat. But I still feel the same sense of awe in thinking about potential applications of this and other similar tech in the not-too-distant future.
AMANDA: Working with generative AI can be like engaging with the world’s best liar. Generative AI can create factually incorrect content, but that sounds correct. It can also pose risks to organisations due to data leakage. Consumer AI tools tend to lack comprehensive data privacy safeguards. Feeding sensitive information, such as CVs, into a generative AI tool like ChatGPT could result in policy breaches and potential legal repercussions. As such, maintaining a mindful approach towards AI usage, and ensuring adherence to trustworthiness principles, is top of mind for many leaders.
SAM: Incorporating AI technology into the HR and recruitment space isn’t a new phenomenon, but it feels like an abundance of platforms and services have been offered to automate, enhance or help manage parts of our roles in the months following the initial release of ChatGPT. What I have found particularly fascinating at the recruitment coal face is the behavioural shifts across our candidates, clients and within our business in response to the rapid induction and widespread adoption of this new technology.
In working with our clients in recent months, I am seeing an increase in concern over screening for AI input in candidates’ work, particularly for technical or creative roles where there is a strong need for a candidate to not just be able to solve a problem but to understand the ‘why’ behind their proposed solution. For example, we recently worked with a client on an engineering role where the successful candidate needed a level of technical capability as well as an understanding of how that capability would mesh with other parts of the organisation. Historically, for these roles, our client would ask candidates to complete an exercise intended to demonstrate their technical competency and to have this submitted alongside their application. With the prevalence of tools like ChatGPT capable of making light work of these sorts of exercises, our client has adapted their typical interview process to include a separate technical interview panel where candidates will meet in person with experts from within the organisation and will have their answers to that exercise challenged. While this isn’t a new problem –someone perhaps padding their level of expertise or looking externally for the answers – the availability of resources like ChatGPT for crafting answers to problems effectively in real time has meant the need to
add this layer of assessment into the hiring process. It’s an interesting contrast to the trend that was accelerated over COVID-19 of remote working and increasingly digital-first engagement, where now there seems to be a shift back to in-person assessment as part of the hiring process.
AMANDA: Interestingly, real-time behavioural interviews are not immune from the influence of generative AI either. There are open-source and consumer tools that enable candidates to input the live transcription of an interview into a generative AI tool. This tool prompts the user with suggested responses to questions, in real-time. The candidate does not even need to touch their keyboard throughout the entire process. Therefore, in addition to the ease candidates now experience when answering technical questions, generative AI might be presenting a very optimistic picture of a candidate’s language and soft skills in video interviews too.
Given the prevalence of remote work, online interviews – and with them, the use of generative AI – are inevitable. With few effective solutions to mitigate AI use, and concerns that methods like exam proctoring could harm diversity and inclusion , a balance must be struck. It’s worth questioning whether complete AI removal is the goal, because its integration could boost productivity, if ethically managed. The future of recruitment may involve reconciling generative AI’s benefits with its capacity for misrepresentation. This evolving area is one to watch.
OUR TECHNOLOGICAL REVOLUTION
SAM: Inside our business, we’ve been going through a small technological revolution over the past year with an overhaul of all our major systems. We’re a boutique recruitment agency, and we market ourselves on the effort and care we invest into the people behind the recruitment
SHAPES AI IN HR AND RECRUITMENT
SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 35 DOMAINS OF KNOWLEDGE
process, whether that’s the candidates we are working with or the client that has engaged our services. Our challenge has been in finding a way to blend our traditional recruitment methodology with technology to continue to operate at the ‘cutting edge’, but because our product is people, if we lose that direct engagement and relationship with our networks, we would be losing the soul of our business.
The great news is that this isn’t an ‘all or nothing’ proposition. A vast selection of tools is available to businesses like ours to create technology platform that augments our team’s capability and caters to the specific needs of our market.
AMANDA: The explosion of AI tools in recruitment
underlines the critical need for proper training of recruitment consultants to use these tools well. Although AI is often seen as a solution to hiring biases, it can (unknowingly) perpetuate these prejudices if trained on biased data, even when key demographics are removed from candidate profiles. However, when effectively used, AI can aid in identifying a broader spectrum of candidates, potentially reducing bias in hiring processes. Ensuring that staff understand the inherent biases in AI tools and are trained to use generative AI features responsibly can significantly impact the return on investment from AI, and should be an important consideration during AI software adoption.
MAKING RECRUITMENT CONSULTANTS MORE EFFICIENT
SAM: With things like Chatbots, email and text automation and candidate engagement systems, as recruiters, we are being enabled to increase the number of talented candidates we are engaged with at any given point in time. Combine these larger talent pools with candidate-sourcing AI integrated into our core CRM, and we can more readily locate great people from that pool of candidates and engage with them around specific job opportunities, effectively resulting in a faster time to placement for our clients. Rather than replacing our function in the market, advances in this technology are increasing the efficiency of our operating model and providing
WHAT HR PROFESSIONALS SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT NOW TO PREPARE FOR MORE TECH IN THE RECRUITMENT SPACE
• Upskill in trustworthy AI: Encourage effective and responsible use of generative AI. Begin with strategic ideation sessions for leaders to adapt to new AI opportunities and associated legal and ethical changes. Equip individuals with prompt-engineering skills for optimal results. Lastly, emphasise trustworthy AI training, highlighting responsible AI use, balancing automation and human supervision, and managing data privacy and algorithmic fairness.
• Use generative AI as a first draft only: Generative AI can be likened to an eager intern – highly articulate, but occasionally wildly incorrect. Recognise that these tools can sometimes yield unreliable results that may not accurately represent a candidate’s qualifications or suitability. The optimal use cases are those that help you reduce time spent on effort-intensive tasks but still allow you to fact check its outputs. So for now, double check everything, and avoid using personally identifiable or sensitive information in consumer AI tools. Businesses should only share personal or confidential information if there is explicit confirmation from the AI tool provider that inputted data is not retained or disclosed by it.
• Embrace change: AI progress represents the latest wave of technological disruption, with far-reaching implications for the HR and recruitment sectors. HR professionals should welcome this transformation and embrace the change it will bring by strategising how to incorporate AI into their current operating models or modify processes to align with the new technological landscape.
• Balancing tech and human touch: As we increasingly move to integrate technology like AI into our businesses, we should be mindful of the people who form the heart of our industry and strike a balance between technology-driven efficiency and a process that supports the human factor.
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our team with more capacity to do what they do best and add value by engaging with the people behind the process.
AMANDA: Generative AI has the potential to profoundly enhance traditional recruitment processes across four main stages:
• sourcing and screening, analysing vast amounts of data to identify the best fit for a role
• assimilating data from diverse sources, like social media, to construct comprehensive candidate profiles
• crafting job descriptions, which truly represent the role and company culture
• interview scheduling, resulting in significant time and cost savings.
Generative AI also expedites response generation and feedback delivery, instilling a more human-like touch. Consequently, these tools may drive more human-sounding interactions for recruitment consultants and enable skills-based recruitment methods, fostering an environment that cultivates a more inclusive, equitable and diverse talent pipeline.
Sam Collins is the Managing Director of People&co Recruitment, a boutique agency located in Wellington serving clients across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Following a successful career in banking and financial services, Sam took over the business from the retiring founders in 2022. He now leads a fantastic team renowned for their ability to connect great people with great employers, in roles ranging from the administrative to the executive.
Dr Amanda Williamson is the Generative Artificial Intelligence Lead for Deloitte New Zealand.
Amanda provides insights on AI, guiding executives in the practical implementation of data-driven strategies, across key industries, drawing on her experience as a senior lecturer in innovation and strategy.
Amanda’s core expertise lies in natural language processing, an area she delved into during her doctoral studies at the University of Sheffield. This expertise underpins recent breakthroughs, such as ChatGPT, and has been instrumental in shaping her professional accomplishments.
Action photos from HR Trends Forum: Photo Credit: Arthur Hon Sheng
SPRING 2023 | HUMAN RESOURCES 37 DOMAINS OF KNOWLEDGE
How can technology support a flexible workforce?
Flex is about giving people choices about their hours, days and place of work. This can lead to higher levels of productivity, employee wellbeing, staff retention and reduced carbon emissions. Gillian Brookes offers tips on how to integrate technology into a flexible workforce.
Employee choice is important. Accessing higher levels of wellbeing leads to people working in a way that helps them live a life they value. This comes from the work of Amartya Sen, who is considered the founding father of wellbeing economics. Without giving people in your workforce access to choices, you won’t have access to the benefits of flex, many of which start with employees gaining a wellbeing benefit, whatever that looks like for them.
JOB CRAFTING: THE NEXT FRONTIER OF FLEX
The next frontier of flex is shaping up to be the work
itself; job crafting. This is a crucial enabler to give people even more choices about their hours, days and place of work. The main driver of job crafting is workforce cohesion and culture. Leaders are mindful to avoid entrenching the emerging twotier workforce. We have around half the workforce able to work from home at least some of the time, and the other half that still has to work in-person only, with no opportunity to work from home. By tweaking the design of a job, it becomes possible to enable that second half of the workforce to do some of their duties from home,
HR SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGY GILLIAN BROOKES
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if they want to. For example, enabling people to do learning and development or contribute to cross-functional projects. This creates choices for people who would otherwise be missing out entirely and creates a more cohesive workforce, rather than one of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.
TECHNOLOGY AND JOB CRAFTING
Technology has a role here, too. When thinking about redesigning a role, we can consider the uniquely human elements of the role alongside the elements that technology can pick up. With advances in artificial intelligence (AI), technology can increasingly take care of the more mundane aspects of jobs, leaving a redesigned role potentially more interesting, more valuable, higher paid and more fulfilling.
The uniquely human work is often about creativity, dealing with complexity and relationship building. This is the heart of our value as humans, relative to technology. People will value the use of technology in this way, if it’s used to enhance the quality of their work and maximise the value they can bring to the organisation. When people have more meaningful work, they are much more likely to feel motivated, perform well and stay with you for longer.
The type of work that’s suited to automation also significantly overlaps with the nature of work that is suited to being fully remote. Process-driven, independent work that is relatively easy for a well-trained person is the type of work better suited to being done remotely. Most of us have some of that type of work, but not exclusively. Over time, these elements of our work will become ideal for automation, eroding the likelihood of significant uptake of fully remote work. Eventually, we might get to the point where technology more closely resembles the in-person experience, but it’s early days there. We have yet to learn how we respond en masse to these tools as a proxy for human connection.
CHEAT SHEET FOR WHAT WORK TO DO FROM WHERE WORK FROM THE OFFICE WORK FROM HOME
Focus on team connection
Focus on ‘loose ties’
Prioritise important over urgent
Create space for the unplanned
Let go of urgent and individual work
WHAT WORK IS BEST DONE FROM WHERE?
Technology can only enable our work if we are already making good decisions about what work needs to be done at any given time or place. We don’t want to use our time in the office, when we have an opportunity for rare face-toface interactions, to be typing emails or spending all day on video calls.
The box above shows a cheat sheet I often use to help people make better choices about what work to do from where. Working in this way not only drives our need for human connection, but also means we’ll be more productive.
When it comes to technology and how we best use it, let’s start with what not to do. Some of the worst uses of technology I’ve seen have been in the surveillance culture. Monitoring people’s use of their devices as a proxy for performance and productivity is not what I would recommend. It undermines trust in the employment relationship and has unintended consequences,
Focus on individual work
Focus on tasks and urgent work
Prioritise deep thinking work that is best done without interruption
Enjoy the dopamine hit of ticking off the to-do list
Let go of highly collaborative, dynamic, complex work
which far outweigh any benefits. Those unintended consequences manifest in people using technology for the sake of it, even when it’s not what their work requires of them.
The primary focus for most teams right now is how to maintain connection and build cohesion. If we want inclusive and cohesive teams where people trust that meaningful connections are made, regardless of how flexibly they’re working, and that they’re not going to be excluded because of their agreed working arrangements, we need to get this right.
Becoming more comfortable with asynchronous ways of connecting through the good use of technology is critical.
I developed the diagram on the next page to help leaders to think about the use of technology for inclusive, flexible teams. This diagram has an inverse relationship between the quantity of connection and the quality of connection. There is such a limited opportunity to connect in person at the same time and same place, so we need to make sure those opportunities are treated as the highest quality form of connection. To do that, we need to only engage in the kind of
“ We are unlikely to see significant uptake in fully remote work anytime soon.
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DOMAINS OF KNOWLEDGE
work that is best done faceto-face. We can’t shoehorn every piece of information, connection and interaction into that narrow category. I’ve put it at the tip of the triangle because it’s the pinnacle of our quality connection, and we need to use it wisely. Things like planning out our team’s work for the coming quarter or welcoming a new team member are the kinds of activities I’d recommend prioritising for this type of connection.
Because face-to-face will continue to be scarce, we need to become more comfortable with other forms of connecting, with the help of technology. The next level down on the diagram is synchronous but remote, which means the same time, different place. Typically, this means phone calls and video calls. We have seen an explosion in the volume of video calls and we need to reduce our reliance on them.
If that’s the aim, what do we replace them with? This is where we need to get more comfortable with asynchronous voice notes and videos. At the moment, these formats are heavily underused. Using them more gives us an opportunity to connect with the nuance of our humanity through the tone of our voice and the expressions on our faces, but without the need for people to be available at a particular time or place. Many leaders skip this format altogether or only use it sparingly. People are exhausted with video calls and are beginning to avoid engaging in them, so we need more alternatives in our kete.
One leader I worked with recently took this fully on board. She sent her team an informal, self-filmed video with an update from her that she otherwise would have given in a team meeting. The feedback she had from her team was incredibly positive. Those who worked part-time didn’t miss out, as they often had in the past. Others could watch it again to recall the context she’d given in her update, which they’d not been able to do previously.
“ Because face-to-face will continue to be scarce, we need to become more comfortable with other forms of connecting, with the help of technology.
This leaves us with the last type of connection, which is asynchronous in written form. For most of us, these are emails and the output of our various chat functions. This tends to be the lowest quality form of human connection but one of the easiest to send out, which is why there is so much of it! I expect we will continue to have plenty of emails and other forms of text to read, but wouldn’t it be great if some of it could be replaced by other more engaging forms of connection, like voice notes and videos?
KNOW YOUR WORKFORCE
The final tip I have is to know your workforce. Many organisations I work with don’t have an overview of the flex arrangements of their workforce. This means they are making decisions about how to evolve flex, their physical workspace and enabling technology, in the dark. Without knowing the baseline from which to move, it’s impossible
to monitor and track your progress. Understanding how people are working, the choices they are making, the impact that’s having and how it varies across the workforce is really important, if you want to keep improving the benefits from flex and the technology that enables (or disables) it.
can find out more at her website www.gillianbrookes.co.nz and
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Gillian Brookes Chartered Member of HRNZ, is the author of Flexperts: Getting the best from flex in a world that’s ever changing. Since 2019, Gillian has specialised as a flexible work consultant and has worked with hundreds of leaders to improve the impact flex has for their business. Her online Flexperts training course is available now. You
T h e n e w C a p a b i l i t y F r a m e w o r k , T h e P a t h , i s d e v e l o p e d f o r t h e u n i q u e d e m a n d s o n H R p r o f e s s i o n a l s i n A o t e a r o a , b y H R p r o f e s s i o n a l s T h e P a t h h i g h l i g h t s t h e f u n d a m e n t a l f a c t o r s t o a l l o w i n g H R p r o f e s s i o n a l s t o l e a d n o w a n d i n t o t h e f u t u r e .
C h e c k o u t
T H E P A T H
Dear Human Resources
A warm welcome to our new regular columnist, Aidan Stoate, CEO New Zealand at Inspire Group, who shares his heartfelt insights into leading people.
than the concept of a pervasive technological entity that might manipulate us towards our eventual extinction (unless we find an equally adept Terminator to help us avoid this fate).
“ The system goes online on August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defence. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 am Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug. Skynet fights back. It launches its missiles against the targets in Russia because Skynet knows that the Russian counterattack will eliminate its enemies over here.”
(Terminator 2: Judgment Day)
Thankfully, this bleak prophecy from the infamous 90s action movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day did not materialise. Although 1997 was not without major incident, nothing happened that would be comparable to an apocalyptic nuclear conflict resulting from humankind’s failure to control the exponential growth of artificial intelligence.
But why does the prospect of this technological advancement catalyse so much fear?
Perhaps the clue to unpacking this is inherent in the definition of our area of expertise: HUMAN resources. Humans, despite our significant complexities, fallibilities and idiosyncrasies, are more of a known quantity for most of us
In the world of human resources, we typically encourage and celebrate the potential of learning, yet when we shift that context to AI, there would appear to be a collective apprehension about how this will detrimentally affect our workforces. This fear tempers the excitement about the proposed benefits and opportunities associated with this technological innovation. Perhaps also, despite the unsteady truce that most of us have with technology (great when it works, nightmare when it doesn’t), the fear stems from what we don’t yet know about AI and its potential. While other forms of technology have been relatively well established (and evolving) in most organisations for decades, they’ve rarely been perceived as such an existential threat to our livelihoods as under the current context of artificial intelligence. Many of the organisations and people we engage with are naturally nervous about the prospect of AI replacing them. Not because of what it can do now but because of what it may be able to do as it continues to learn at a ‘geometric rate’.
We can’t fully eliminate this prospect – or the fear that it inspires – but we can support people through a process of change and uncertainty by focusing on what we’re best at: the human element. Any form of organisational (or technology) change will only be successful when HR and the structures that support them are focused
on how to enable people to navigate a transition. The old rule still applies here: lead with empathy, care and compassion. Coach and mentor. Emotionally intuit the needs of your people and assess how and where they need your support. Building these capabilities in others. These are all things that AI cannot (yet) do anywhere nearly as effectively as we can.
Anyway, “I’ll be back” next quarter with more thoughts about how HR can help us in our battle against the machines or –more optimistically – how we can work together with them to make our organisations (and the world in general) a better place!
**This article was written the old-fashioned way, without the use of Open AI. Thoughts and opinions are, therefore, entirely my own, for better or worse!**
Aidan Stoate is the New Zealand CEO of Inspire Group, an awardwinning learning design consultancy that delivers world-class solutions to organisations globally. Aidan has a passion for helping organisations improve their culture and performance through innovative learning and development interventions. As an ICF accredited organisational coach, Aidan provides subject-matter expertise for the design and delivery of leadership programmes, while leading the Inspire Group New Zealand business across all projects and disciplines. Having led organisations and teams in the United Kingdom, South-East Asia, North America and Australasia, Aidan brings a nuanced perspective while promoting inclusive, engaging and contextualised solutions that drive genuine behaviour change and strategic benefits.
42 HUMAN RESOURCES | SPRING 2023 DOMAINS OF KNOWLEDGE
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