One in seven HR leaders report Automation / Artificial Intelligence is already impacting their workforce plans, reports Harvey Nash HR Survey 2017

April 24, 2017

The way businesses are planning their workforce is changing, and being impacted by the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation.

Fifteen percent of HR leaders said their plans were being affected right now, and a further 40 percent believe this will happen within the next two to five years. This is according to the sixth annual Harvey Nash Human Resources Survey, representing the views of 1,008 HR leaders from over forty countries.

Technology as a whole is revolutionising how today’s HR departments are operating, with 60 percent of respondents saying the importance of Technology Enabled HR has increased within the past year. Over half of respondents understood that innovation for their organisation was ‘very important’, and the vast majority (86 percent) believe that HR has its own role in promoting and supporting innovation.

The current economic uncertainty is reflected in the decreased focus on training and recruitment as priorities. This year training and education was considered a priority by four percent fewer HR leaders than last year, with recruitment the drop was even greater at eight percent. Succession was also less of a priority, which may be explained by those in senior positions not being quite so keen to move on.

Lisa Wormald, director, Harvey Nash Group said: “It probably comes as no surprise that technology is seeping into the Human Resources department, but what is particularly striking is quite how many HR leaders believe that AI and automation are affecting their plans already. The good news is that HR is not only embracing this innovation but is a key part of it.”

Elsewhere in the Harvey Nash Human Resources Survey 2017:

  • Opinion is split about whether HR should be doing more for the business. There was a clear 50:50 split this year in those that feel responsible for proactively driving HR to do more for the business and those that feel they should be encouraging business to take more responsibility for the HR function. This has changed from last year, where 53 percent wanted the business to take more responsibility.
  • Organisations are doing the majority of their recruitment directly. Personal networks, referrals and alumni programmes are down significantly as recruitment tools and the use of Social Media has grown somewhat with more than four in ten (44 percent) of our HR professionals using this for candidate acquisition. Those that are using recruitment agencies are keen for them to be more aligned with the organisation to help them with their leadership development (31 percent of HR professionals that rated recruitment agencies as ‘very important’ use an external company to carry out their leadership development, compared to the global average of 23 percent) and overseas recruitment (32 percent of HR professionals that rated recruitment agencies as ‘very important’ are also looking to increase overseas headcount compared to the average of 27 percent).
  • HR salaries suffer from a gender pay gap. Men earn, on average, a quarter more than their female counterparts. This is the case across all levels of the profession.

About the Survey
The Harvey Nash HR Survey 2017 collected data between 27th October and 21st December 2016 and represents the views of 1,008 HR employees from more than 40 countries. Of the respondents, 9 percent identified themselves as Chief HR Officer, 17 percent as VP/Director of HR, 17 percent as Head of HRs and another 16 percent as Senior Manager HR, and the remaining 41 percent were spread between a broad range of roles including HR Business Partner and Talent Manager.

For more information about the survey including and to request a full copy of the results, please visit or email

About Harvey Nash
Harvey Nash has helped over half the world’s leading companies recruit, source and manage the highly skilled talent they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive, global and technology-driven world. With over 8,000 experts in more than 40 offices across Europe, Asia and the USA, we have the reach and resources of a global organisation, whilst fostering a culture of innovation and agility that empowers our people across the world to respond to constantly changing client needs. We work with clients, both large and small, to deliver a portfolio of services: executive search, professional recruitment and IT outsourcing.