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Why HR needs AI-related roles and skills

Organizations that are more advanced in their use of AI are far more likely to hire for AI-related roles and skills in HR, according to recent data from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), an HR research organization and the leading authority on next practices in human capital management.

In addition, new research from Revelio Labs, a workforce analytics company, connecting job posting and i4cp survey data, shows that job postings for AI-related positions in HR have almost tripled since 2019. Moreover, the rate of increase in AI-related postings in HR climbed dramatically above those for other HR job postings. The roles most likely to include AI-related skills as requirements or preferred skills include:

  • HRIS analysts
  • HR business partners
  • Payroll and compensation specialists
  • HR generalists

AI Related Job Postings

In a comprehensive analysis of 262 million job postings to better understand the skills sought by organizations, Revelio Labs found a strong connection between AI-related job openings in HR and where organizations place on i4cp’s generative AI maturity model.

In i4cp’s report, Is HR Already Behind the AI Revolution?, analysts found that organizations differ significantly based on the stated position on AI of their leadership. How these leaders communicate the desired use of generative AI for work, and the types of talent strategies they have in place to support a workforce that can safely and effectively leverage new AI tools plays a big part in the organization’s AI maturity.

i4cp Generative AI Maturity ModelRevelio Lab’s research makes it clear that organizations that are AI Innovators are more focused on acquiring different skills and expertise in their HR functions compared to AI Laggards.

Their analysts found that between January and October 2023, AI Innovators were more likely to hire for HR skills related to compensation and benefits, professional services, project management, and software solutions ( e.g., employee resource planning software).

These skills make sense in the context of evolving technology that allows for more personalized employee experience at scale, and as people data becomes more critical to business decisions.

For example, AI enables custom compensation and benefits packages; it also capable of synthesizing labor market and internal human capital data to allow for workforce planning that is dialed into the organization’s unique upskilling and hiring needs.

Moreover, as data becomes more critical to decision-making, solutions such as Crunchr or Visier (with their own AI-powered features) are making data more accessible to leadership across the enterprise. This requires transition in HR’s people analytics from a reporting function to one that serves as more of a professional insights consultant.

At the same time, i4cp’s research found that those surveyed from organizations that are AI Laggards are more likely to list traditional and foundational technical skills related to data security and human resource information systems and broader soft skills like teamwork, planning, and managing as seen in the chart below.

HR Skill differntials between AI innovators and AI laggards

Revelio Labs also analyzed differences between companies that are hiring for AI-related roles and skills in HR and those that aren’t (as identified in i4cp’s survey). Just like AI Innovators (organizations that are also likely to hire for AI-related roles and skills in HR), these organizations that seek to buy more AI capabilities from the labor market have also been clearly hunting for skills to build more technical and analytical functions.

Again, companies not hiring for AI-specific roles are more likely to be hiring for more traditional HR skills.

HR Skill Differentials between AI hiring and non AI hiring companies

i4cp’s research has repeatedly shown that the ascendency of HR from a transactional practice to a strategic one is dependent upon HR’s ability to turn data into meaningful business insights. Those organizations that have been future-focused enough to hire roles with AI-related skills or responsibilities amid the rapid expansion of this technology are actively seeking that critical capability in their recruits.

More importantly, i4cp’s research also found that having AI-related roles in HR is positively correlated to a metric that should appeal to any senior business leader: higher market performance.

Our analysis found a distinct correlation between AI capabilities in HR and better revenue growth, market share, profitability, and customer satisfaction. Furthermore, this correlation extends to several other appealing outcomes: improving employee productivity, innovation, and maintaining a healthier culture.

Clearly, leaders at top companies are increasingly relying on human capital data to drive business decisions amid a complex network of AI or automated applications within the HR tech stack. Many are simply embedding technical and analytical skills into traditional HR roles, such as HR analyst or people operations to help the function optimize its use of new technologies.

For those considering the integration of AI-related skills in HR, our analysis identified the top AI technical skills in HR job postings. The top three are closely tied to capabilities related to technology that has been advancing rapidly and analytical capabilities.

Top 10 AI skills in HRThe Future of HR and Human Capital

The rise of AI-related skills and roles within HR is indicative of a significant transformation in the field of human resources. Leaders in high-performance organizations recognize (and are capitalizing on) the value of AI and analytics for functions and tasks that impact every step of the employee lifecycle.

And some leaders are thinking beyond just hiring for these skills—as AI becomes more integral to HR functions, many professionals in the field are turning to upskilling the workforce to meet these evolving demands. But as more organizations recognize the pressing need to competitively leverage AI, it is expected that individuals with AI and HR backgrounds will be in greater demand.

Both i4cp and Revelio Labs will continue to follow this trend and provide valuable insights and guidance for HR professionals and organizations seeking to navigate this AI-driven landscape effectively. In this dynamic environment, embracing AI-related skills is not just a trend but a necessity for the future of human capital management.

Katheryn Brekken, Ph.D.
Katheryn Brekken, Ph.D., is a senior research analyst with the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). Prior to joining i4cp, she served as an assistant professor of research with the MGM Resorts Public Policy Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Public Policy and Leadership, where she continues to lecture. She has worked closely with government and corporate leaders to develop and evaluate education and training programs and as a policy advisor. She has over 15 years of experience in public affairs and has testified before legislative bodies on matters of higher education and workforce policy. She is published in various academic journals including Politics & Policy, Community College Journal of Research & Practice, and State and Local Government Review. She received her Ph.D. in Public Affairs from UNLV.