The personalisation of HR again and stepping away from AI

Posted on 18th September 2019

I’m going to jump in with both feet and just give a personal view in this blog, because it interests me but also because AI both amazes me and scares me at the same time!

After a long winding road of thoughts about the subject I came to the conclusion that AI technology is slightly trying to steal our shine. AI is in fact described as the simulation of human intelligence, but ask yourself, if it’s based on human intelligence, it will only be as intelligent as the person/s feeding in information and teaching it. So how intelligent is it really? Basically, AI is trying to be the copycat of us amazing human beings but in my opinion it’s not quite there yet.

We make decisions in a similar way, in that we gain, process and learn from data that we receive. Technology may be able to process data quicker and throw out an answer, because let’s face it, I know I can’t be absolutely 100% all of the time, but can we confidently say the answers given would be a true reflection of a human response?

One case that came to mind was actually one in which Gateway HR had handled recently. It was actually my colleague rather than myself, but I distinctly remember the conversation that was had.

Here’s some background:

A client had asked us to support with an employee who had recently become very withdrawn and didn’t seem himself at all, therefore they were concerned. Having had previous conversations with the employee, they just couldn’t get to the bottom of it. Alongside the perceived withdrawal and unhappiness there was also a timekeeping issue which needed addressing. If this was an AI decision, it would have easily picked up on the timekeeping issue from the data kept, which could have at that point resulted in this being a disciplinary matter.

However, the human intelligence of my colleague picked up on the underlying messages from the employees behaviour, body language and tone of voice and determined that this may need to be handled differently. There was an informal meeting held to discuss timekeeping issues and upon raising concerns around the fact they didn’t seem happy they stated, “everything is fine” and didn’t share anything else. My colleague offered their business card and said to call her if they feel they want/needed to. At this point, my colleague returned to the office and mentioned that they felt very uncomfortable about the meeting and spent some time reflecting on it. They felt that there was most definitely an underlying issue the employee didn’t want to speak about, and it also caused her to worry about the individual.

On this basis it was decided to ensure regular 1:1’s were carried out with the individual to talk about how they are finding work, to give feedback and also coach them in certain areas. Following a number of 1:1’s the individual gained in confidence, began to converse more with colleagues and improved in other areas too. In this instance, what would’ve been a disciplinary case ended up being an additional support and coaching situation, but this was only picked up on by the emotional intelligence of a human being.

Therefore, when we think of AI, it is of course fantastic for many different aspects of HR, specifically measuring HR metrics. However, the predominant feature within HR is dealing with “people” which includes emotions, and that is something that technology just cannot understand yet, on the deeper level required to do the job of a HR professional.

If you would like to discuss any areas of HR with us, please feel free to give us a call on 01536 215240 or email


Charlotte Batchelor Character
Written by:
Charlotte Batchelor
HR Adviser