In the rapidly evolving landscape of business technology, artificial intelligence (AI) is making its presence felt across various sectors, including human resources (HR).

However, as UK businesses embrace AI in their HR departments, questions arise about its ethical implications, particularly concerning decisions like layoffs.

According to a recent study by GetApp, which surveyed over 1,000 SME employees across the UK, 20% of SMEs are utilising AI in their HR processes. While the national average stands at 15% in England, London emerges as a frontrunner with a 33% adoption rate, indicating a significant concentration of AI-powered HR systems in the capital.

Apprehensions Surrounding AI in Layoff Decisions

Despite the growing adoption of AI in HR, there is widespread apprehension among SME associates, particularly regarding its role in deciding layoffs. Only 8% of SMEs currently use AI for this purpose, yet a staggering 75% of respondents express discomfort at the idea of AI determining redundancies. Moreover, 73% fear that AI-driven layoff decisions could exacerbate stress levels among employees, with 52% deeming it ethically and morally wrong.

Interestingly, while London leads in AI adoption, it also exhibits higher acceptance levels towards AI in HR decisions compared to the national average. However, regardless of geographical location, transparency regarding the implementation of AI-powered HR remains crucial. While 57% of businesses inform their staff about AI integration, 33% are not adequately transparent about its usage.

Future Implications

Despite current apprehensions, there is a consensus among employees that AI will play a defining role in future business decisions, with 50% agreeing that technology like AI will shape critical business strategies.

David Jani, Content Analyst at GetApp UK, emphasises the importance of transparency in AI integration, stating, “Being clear about this and communicating the information openly can do much to address any worries that could arise when using AI in HR.”

As UK SMEs navigate the complexities of AI integration in HR, transparent communication and ethical considerations will remain paramount in fostering trust and addressing employee concerns.