Global CHRO AI Indicator Report: How HR Leaders Can Enable AI Strategy

HR leaders are aware of AI’s strategic value—and cautious of its risks. A report from Workday and FT Longitude sheds light on what HR leaders think about AI and how they can effectively embrace it.

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AI is no longer optional. From here on, AI will be essential to an organization’s digital transformation—and to HR’s critical role in enabling transformation. CHROs are now expected to help lead their organization’s AI strategy. But how do they feel about these technologies? And is HR ready to use them?

In the “Global CHRO AI Indicator Report: A Vision for Strategic Value,” Workday in collaboration with FT Longitude surveyed 2,355 senior business executives across functions. Then, by analyzing the HR respondents, we discovered what HR professionals think about AI and where they expect AI to drive the most business value and impact for HR. 

The report makes a fascinating if perhaps surprising finding: HR, compared to IT and finance, is more conservative on AI adoption and more thoughtful about the value AI can deliver. The report also offers three ways to embrace AI thoughtfully in HR.

Instructively, the report also tracks respondents going further with AI—a group we’ve named AI Pioneers. These organizations have the highest rates of AI and machine learning (ML) adoption and digital transformation. Within HR, they’re adopting AI at more than twice the rate of the others.

Delivering Strategic Value—HR’s North Star

HR has evolved from supportive to strategic. But the function is being weighed down by administrative overload. In fact, compared to IT and finance, HR is the least satisfied with the sheer number of function-specific admin tasks that all employees must complete.

HR sees AI as a strategic enabler: two-fifths say AI will allow their teams to deliver more strategic value, compared to over half of AI Pioneers. Both HR respondents and AI Pioneers expect to realize the same benefits from integrating AI into HR: increased productivity, improved collaboration, and increased revenue and profits. HR leaders say the most immediate value from AI can be gained in three areas: performance management, skills management, and recruitment and onboarding.

What’s more, HR reports that AI can improve the overall work environment, but they’re not quite as optimistic as the AI pioneers. Over one-third of HR leaders say AI will enable a more equitable and diverse workplace and will make their organization more meritocratic—and about half of AI Pioneers agree.

The future won’t wait. AI adoption is here—and growing.

AI Supporter or AI Skeptic? HR Is Both

Is HR supportive or skeptical of AI? The answer is yes. While 39% of HR leaders are excited to use AI, 33% are not.

Out of all the functions surveyed, HR is the most concerned about the trustworthiness of AI, with almost half of HR respondents noting their concern. And while 1 in 3 agree AI is a game changer for their role, that’s lower than all functions surveyed.

One top concern: HR employees won’t have the technical skills to work effectively with AI. More than 2 in 5 HR leaders say their team is not fully prepared for AI—the highest percentage of unpreparedness of all functions surveyed.

Meanwhile, AI Pioneers have a much more confident stance toward AI adoption—partly because they’ve already seen what it can do. AI Pioneers are also enjoying higher levels of satisfaction across HR performance.

Is HR supportive or skeptical of AI? The answer is yes. While almost two-fifths of HR respondents are excited to use AI, one-third is not.

Three Ways HR Leaders Can Tap the Potential of AI

Given AI’s potential and its risks, what can HR leaders do? The report shares three steps:

  • Partner with your IT counterparts. Successful business transformation never happens within just one function. HR must build strategic partnerships with IT. These partnerships will be critical to successfully realizing the AI solutions that will transform the HR space—and championing an AI-forward culture across the organization. 

  • Upskill HR teams in AI technology and data literacy. About one-third of HR respondents believe their teams won’t have the skills to work well with AI. But HR will see a growing need for teams that can work closely with new technologies and have greater data literacy. So, empowering HR teams with AI-specific training and learning materials will help pave the path to AI success.

  • Take a cautious yet accelerated approach. Caution or enthusiasm? Responsible AI integration requires both. Begin implementation by starting small. Train and upskill. Start with a single use case. Test, iterate, adjust—then build from there.

The future won’t wait. AI adoption is here—and growing. HR must shape organization-wide adoption by training, testing, facilitating buy-in, and partnering with trusted providers. The report neatly sums up what’s at stake: “When HR adopts the tools that help tackle busywork and prioritize human-exclusive strategic value, the whole company benefits.”

Get your three-point roadmap to the future here: “Global CHRO AI Indicator Report: A Vision for Strategic Value.” For insight into the other parts of the C-suite and first-mover advantage, download “C-Suite Global AI Indicator Report: AI Is the Ultimate Level-Up.”

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