Technology Is a Tool, Not the Answer

by Heather Bussing

 

Most of us use technology as a primary part of our work. It’s how we communicate with each other, schedule our days, and find information we need. Even jobs that involve lots of hands-on work like restaurants, delivery, or manufacturing are using tech in new ways that put time clocks on people’s phones, get servers paid tips overnight, and route deliveries on the quickest route. In many ways, it feels like technology has become “the work.”

 

As we go into the HR Technology Conference where we will get to see the latest products and ideas, it’s important to remember that all of these programs are tools. They are amazing, important, and incredibly useful. But they are not answers to the big decisions about how we hire, manage, and work with each other.

 

Even the most accurate prediction is just a probability. It won’t ever tell you what is going to happen with that particular employee you think might want to quit. Even the best trained chatbot will fail when given two questions that may have inconsistent answers. Even the most rigorous program to eliminate bias in hiring breaks down the minute real humans, with all their immutable characteristics, walk through the door for the interview.

 

I recently asked an HR pro at a huge data and technology company how they used AI and data in their HR decision making. I loved the answer. He told me: “We use AI and computers to help us get the right information. Sometimes we even rely on predictions to make decisions. But only for decisions that do not negatively affect human beings. When people’s lives can be negatively affected, we always get other humans involved in the decision making so that we can fully understand the context, impact of the decision, and take into account human concepts such as fairness, compassion, and what the right thing to do is.”

 

It’s essential to keep the humanity in HR Technology.