AI and Meaningful work: exploring the challenges for HR Professionals

Roslyn Larkin, Julia Connell, John Burgess

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


The purpose of this research study was to obtain a broad understanding of the impact of AI on the future of job design and/or re-design in Australia. The project team focussed on the HR challenges that have/are being experienced in the quest for meaningful work in relation to artificial intelligence (AI), especially (post-COVID). To achieve this, focus groups were conducted comprising HR professionals (AHRI members) across 6 cities (Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Hobart and Newcastle) spanning five states. The research is a
follow up to a previous study supported by AHRI that was conducted during 2018-2019 (Burgess et al, 2019). Those findings were reported and presented to AHRI, published in the Asia Pacific Journal of HRM (Nankervis et al, 2021). The previous study comprised surveys and some interviews whereas this study consisted of interviews and focus groups with 12 participants. All participants were HR professionals, and the focus group/interviews were undertaken via zoom as per Covid requirements. Participants were from both the private and
not-for profit sectors.

The findings indicate that Working from home (WFH) arrangements required by the enforced conditions governing work and workplaces during the COVID-19 crisis, have expedited the acceptance by organisations and employees for technological change and job re-design. It is anticipated that beyond the current COVID constraints that the future will involve hybrid workforces where tasks will be divided between those that can be undertaken remotely from the workplace and those that must occur at the organisational premises. For HR functions, it is
anticipated that new technology will change work so that it will be less transactional and more meaningful. Challenges regarding these transitions include: the need for trust in the relationships between managers/supervisors and employees; the requirement that employee surveillance and privacy when working remotely is reasonable and legal; and organisational responsibility towards ensuring that all staff have adequate access to technological resources
when working from home.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Newcastle
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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