The HR Technologies Show 2024: Unlocking thriving employee experiences with technology and AI in summary:

  • One of the more popular talks at this year’s HR Technologies Show discussed the role of HR technology and AI in improving the employee experience.
  • The talk examined how businesses must adapt to using new technologies, leverage automation and not be afraid of the spread of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace.
  • However, the speakers did both advise against believing AI was a magical silver bullet and required organisations to carry out data diligence. AI must be used enhance the role of employees, not simply replace them.

The HR Technologies Show was back with a bang this year, as the sprawling event returned to the vast ExCeL Arena in London’s Docklands.

For the world of HR, this was one of the key events of the year: with both industry leaders and technology experts converging to showcase the latest innovations shaping the future of human resources management. The two-day event was a vibrant hub of ideas, solutions, and discussions centered around revolutionising HR practices through cutting-edge technologies and new ways of thinking.

As I navigated through the bustling exhibition hall, I was captivated by the diverse array of booths representing leading HR tech companies. From talent acquisition platforms, to advanced analytics tools and sophisticated HRIS software… Every corner of the show floor was buzzing with demonstrations and presentations. All highlighting the transformative impact of technology on modern people operations – including the lively Cezanne stand!

The Cezanne stand at the HR technologies Show 2024

The Cezanne stand took pride of place in the middle of the venue, and it was a hive of activity all day long! As well as insightful demonstrations of the Cezanne HRIS, visitors were also treated to a delicious selection of pick n’ mix sweets… not to mention bundles of sweet Cezanne swag.

But, away from the HRIS software stands, there were a wealth of lively discussions taking place from industry thought leaders… and there was one in particular that caught my attention…

Unlocking thriving employee experiences with technology and AI

One of the more thought-provoking discussions at the HR Technologies Show this year discussed the impact of technology on the employee experience – something we’ve also investigated in our recent Employee Satisfaction report.

The keynote seminar featured three highly influential HR voices from two of the world’s largest businesses. Chairing the session was Clare Holley, Financial Services Sales Director at Microsoft UK Ltd. And, sharing their thoughts on the subject were Microsoft UK Ltd’s General Manager of HR Service Delivery Phil Gillingham, and Stuart Martin, Group People Operations and People Platform Leader at Lloyds Banking Group.

Just what does it mean to have a ‘thriving’ employee experience?

The session started with Clare asking the core question: just what does it mean to have a thriving employee experience? Stuart answered that he believed it’s any organisation that’s taken the time to nurture a good employee experience. Specifically, investing in the right tools and the right time, to help employees do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

Stuart added that his organisation has worked incredibly hard to ‘de-clutter’ the world of work and make all interactions between employees more ‘meaningful’. He highlighted how their use of online technologies enable this, and also help their employees both learn on the job and enjoy their work at the same time.

Unlocking thriving employee experiences with technology and AI at HR technologies 2024

Phil agreed with Stuart’s comments. He added that ultimately, both business leaders and HR teams want people to be energised by the work they do. But, they need to have data-driven insights to identify the dimensions of work that can be improved for everyone’s benefit.

So, what’s the role of an HR leader in this?

Clare went onto ask where HR’s role came into play. Stuart answered that he believed the fast changing world of work means HR technology must be leveraged to help support the employee experience and support their place in the C-suite. In his opinion, the days of ignoring tech such as HRIS solutions are long gone! His belief is that adoption isn’t a choice: it’s fundamental to the future of work.

HR leaders must be on board with the digital transformation of people management as it can benefit everyone. They need to be the leaders to drive this forward.

Should businesses incorporate AI into the employee experience?

Clare’s next question centred around the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) – a subject that certainly dominated this year’s HR Technologies show! She asked if AI had a role to play in supporting employee experiences, and if so, what role should it be?

Phil responded that at Microsoft UK, they were taking advantage of AI to remove the more mundane tasks for employees, enabling them to be more agile and productive. He likened the implementation of their AI to switching from a typewriter to a computer – it’s being used to a practical effect. But, he added that before implementing any kind of AI system, it’s best to contextualise what value it can bring to an organisation.

Phil also mentioned they’ve encouraged people not to be scared of AI – it’s co-pilot, not an auto pilot. He believes that when used a careful and considered way, AI can be used to help you learn about things in a much more rapid way. Plus, it frees you up to be more creative and innovative – not less so.

Stuart agreed with Phil’s comments and added that there’s a huge amount of fear and myth about AI – especially generative AI. But, many of their systems already use it – especially with automating repetitive tasks.

Stuart concluded by stating they’re being more cautious with generative AI, and there needs to be guidelines and safety measures implemented before it’s rolled out more widely. Organisations need to be more ‘data diligent’ now, and remember that AI should be a co-worker, not a people replacement.

The role of AI in HR

Clare’s last question was about the role of AI in HR, and what the panel’s thoughts on how it could affect people operations both now and in the future.

Phil responded by saying that AI can make a huge difference in the current skills shortage. He believes that as a tool for identifying employees who can be upskilled and reskilled, it can be hugely valuable. Plus, it can also ensure that no-one is left behind. Stuart agreed with this sentiment, and added they’re using AI to identify what individuals can do next in their career.

From an HR function perspective, Phil added that the generation of new HR policy is one way generative AI can be a real asset. He stated that whilst HR policy may be boring, it’s critical to business success – but drafting new policies for every eventuality can be incredibly time consuming for people professionals.

Phil believes AI can give people teams a grounding and a basis to work from when a policy needs to be created from scratch – not just starting with a blank piece of paper. When used correctly, it can be incredibly practical and support more agile and strategic HR activities. Plus, it can allow line manager and team leaders to move faster when it comes to answering employee questions on company policies.

A word of caution…

Closing out the talk, Phil did advise caution. Whilst AI can be instrumental in automating many of HR’s more mundane tasks, it shouldn’t be responsible for the more people-orientated activities – especially recruitment.

Phil highlighted the fact that AI uses existing data to formulate its output – but that same data could be faulty, untrue or inaccurate. He mentioned unconscious bias being a huge issue in AI right now, and one that just about every AI platform is struggling to overcome. So, thinking HR and businesses can hand over every aspect of their operations to AI is – he believes – both incredibly short sighted and even dangerous!

Stuart agreed with Phil’s statement and concluded by reiterating that Data diligence is key now. Whilst AI can’t be ignored, it certainly has its negatives, and we’re only at the very beginning of AI’s journey into becoming a core component of the world of work.

Join us for the CIPD Festival of Work on the 12th-13th June 2024!

Missed the HR Technologies Show this year? Then why not come along to the HUGE CIPD Festival of Work instead? To find out more about this exciting event, just head over to their website via this link.

Click here to read our latest report and discover why HRs place in the c-suite is in danger

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Paul Bauer

Paul Bauer is the Head of Content at Cezanne HR. Based in the Utopia of Milton Keynes (his words, not ours!) he’s worked within the employee benefits, engagement and HR sectors for over four years. He's also earned multiple industry awards for his work - including a coveted Roses Creative Award.

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