CIPD Conference: Robots versus Human Resources

Gillian reflects on the CIPD Conference in Edinburgh from a couple of weeks ago.

Last week I attended my first CIPD conference. The expectations were high. I was eager, arriving way too early in my cycling gear; the first person in the EICC. Luckily there was lots of coffee and I soon got chatting to some other keen beans.

Peter Cheese, Head of the CIPD opened the presentations, emphasising the need for HR to have the human at the centre.

The first session I’d chosen focussed on everything but the human. Which was why I had chosen it. As an e-learning designer and strong believer in the benefits of digital learning, I wanted some cutting-edge insights. The session focussed on technology and going digital for learning and also recruiting the right person for the job. Pashina Reddy gave an overview of Deloitte’s learning going digital. They had developed an online platform to engage managers across the globe and found e-learning was the best way to offer flexible learning. Perfect! But only if you have a huge budget and team of designers? Someone asked how SME’s can access this type of learning and not one of the panellists had any advice except to do lots of research. If you are the person who asked that question – contact me. It’s definitely possible for an SME to have access to cost-effective online learning.

The second speaker introduced himself as a typical silicon-valley start-up. He had an idea one day in a coffee shop and the next day (or year) his small start-up was bought by a huge multi-national corporation. The software he developed used technology to recruit, by culture-fit, not just skills and as he said, was the key to retention of good staff. I have to admit that this concerned me a bit. I’m not sure I want my online presence determining whether I am short-listed for a job. My tweet to Edinburgh council about gritting the street and photos of my Eurovision party are not what I would be looking to share with a prospective employer. Timandra Harkness, echoed my concerns and made me laugh when she questioned the algorithms which trawl our online information and make business decisions about who we really are. She was fed up with the constant pop-ups, which made assumptions about her……

I’m hopeful that HR can stay human for the time being.


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