HR is often left out of AI plans, despite the need for upskilling and inclusion

As companies rapidly adopt artificial intelligence tools in the workplace, HR and organizational leaders should be involved to ensure new changes can be implemented successfully, according to a June 17 report from McLean & Co. — but that’s not always the case.

“Despite playing a significant role in organizations, HR is being left out of the conversation on AI adoption,” according to the firm. That’s a mistake because HR leaders can help develop a strategic and holistic approach that considers the benefits, risks and objectives of AI use — while also maximizing return on investment and mitigating harms to reputation, security and inclusivity, it said.

“The AI strategy is the central point from which both technical and people-related AI activities originate,” Lisa Highfield, principal director of human resources technology and AI at McLean & Co., said in a statement.

“It provides the direction, guideposts, and priorities that inform the organization’s activities and enables a smooth execution to transform AI from an idea into reality,” she said. “However, introducing AI technologies can create tension within an organization, considering there are often differing views, competing priorities, and large volumes of change.”

That’s where HR and organizational leaders can play a role in aligning AI strategy with broader organizational goals, Highfield noted. A well-designed AI strategy can provide benefits such as an aligned vision and mission, proper governance, higher success rates with digital transformation and better ROI. 

Without an informed strategy, though, companies could face risks such as technological dependence, unintentional bias and threats to data security, privacy and confidentiality. 

The McLean & Co. report suggested several steps to navigate AI adoption, such as establishing an AI strategy steering committee, assessing current and target AI maturity, identifying AI use cases and values, and creating an AI roadmap based on organizational priorities.  

Importantly, the report noted, leaders should communicate AI strategy and initiatives across employee groups to keep everyone informed and involved with the plan.

Upskilling should be part of the strategic plan and communication initiatives. In fact, employees of every position and background may need AI training, experts have told HR Dive.

About 90% of HR leaders believe up to half their workforce will need to be reskilled in the next five years as AI developments roll out, according to a PeopleScout and Spotted Zebra report. To do this, leaders will need to communicate their plans, address fears and ensure employees receive the training they need, the report found.

Workers want these training opportunities, too. About 57% of workers worldwide said they’re ready for reskilling and retraining in new roles amid AI developments, according to a Boston Consulting Group report. Job seeker interest in learning and career development has increased as well.