Why Keeping Humans in the Loop is Key for AI in HR

Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to reshape how companies manage all facets of their businesses. This transformative potential of AI extends across various operations, helping companies to streamline and automate processes, and improve decision-making.

But excitement about AI—particularly generative AI—varies depending on who in the organization you talk to. According to SMB Group’s Impact of AI survey on SMBs, respondents with human resources (HR) responsibilities are notably less enthusiastic about AI than their peers in other departments.

People in HR roles are also less likely to trust AI. Just 3% of HR professionals said they have a high level of trust in AI, while 43%, said they have a moderate level of trust. But nearly a third are wary of the technology: 29% expressed little confidence, and 7% said they have no faith whatsoever in using AI for HR.

In comparison, those in non-HR roles appear more confident. 24% of non-HR employees expressed a high level of trust in AI, and 51%  indicated moderate confidence.

HR Concerns About AI

Worries among HR professionals about the potential downsides of AI are likely driving this trust gap, as revealed in Mineral’s State of HR survey, conducted by SMB Group.  Some of these include:

  • Concerns about data privacy and security. HR professionals handle a significant amount of sensitive information and must adhere to strict compliance rules, elevating their concerns about how secure, private, and reliable AI-enabled solutions are.
  • Fears of making poor decisions because AI provides inaccurate results. Using AI in HR decisions raises concerns about making poor decisions. Bias—particularly when it comes to applying it to recruitment and hiring processes—as AI can inadvertently perpetuate existing prejudices if AI models are trained on inaccurate data or flawed algorithms.
  • Not understanding how AI works. Fear of the unknown is powerful, and many people lack a good understanding of how AI technologies work—which can prevent them from trusting AI capabilities and using them effectively.
  • Fear of job cuts. Some HR professionals worry that AI might automate or change parts of their jobs, or even replace them. 

With this in mind, it’s no wonder that HR professionals aren’t as keen on jumping on the AI bandwagon as counterparts in other parts of the business.  

Balancing AI Innovation with the Human Touch

However, the AI genie is out of the bottle, and won’t be going back in because it can provide so many benefits. It can take over mundane workplace tasks, freeing humans to spend more time on creative and strategic efforts. AI excels at quickly and accurately analyzing large volumes of data, offering insights that can improve decision-making and forecasting. As technology advances, AI will become more sophisticated and adaptable, paving the way for more improvements and business benefits.

But as much as AI is changing the game, there’s something it can’t replace—the human touch. Keeping “humans in the loop” is not just beneficial but essential because HR fundamentally revolves around people and interpersonal connections.

For instance, in recruitment, AI can screen resumes and identify potential candidates based on keywords and criteria. But it can’t read between the lines to fully grasp the subtleties of a candidate’s interpersonal skills or cultural fit as effectively as a human interviewer can. Human judgment is crucial in interpreting AI data and making decisions that reflect the company’s values and culture. Humans in the loop ensure that the HR processes remain relatable and sensitive to employee needs, fostering a workplace environment that values individuality and human connection.

Ensuring Ethical Compliance

AI models work on the data that people feed them. If this data has biases—and let’s be honest, sometimes it does—AI might unknowingly continue these biases. In HR, this could mean unfair hiring practices or skewed employee evaluations. Humans can monitor AI decisions to mitigate these risks. HR professionals can oversee AI outputs and decisions, helping to uphold ethical standards, maintain employee trust, and comply with legal and ethical HR standards.

Improving AI Effectiveness with Human Insights

Combining AI with human know-how leads to the best outcomes. Humans can provide context to AI analysis, offer insights based on experience that AI might not consider, and make final decisions that reflect a broader range of factors than AI can access. For example, AI might analyze survey data to identify trends in employee sentiment. Still, HR professionals can interpret these trends in the context of recent company events or changes in policy. This partnership between human intuition and AI’s analytical power leads to smarter decisions.

In addition, keeping humans in the loop helps AI improve over time. People can tell the AI what it got right and where it missed the mark, helping it learn and adapt its algorithms to serve the business better. This feedback loop is essential for keeping AI tools useful and relevant as workplace dynamics evolve.


As AI evolves, HR professionals must stay informed and learn how to use AI and other new technologies that are changing how businesses manage human resources.

That said, taking a measured and informed approach to adopting AI is likely the best approach for most companies. This involves learning about the AI capabilities that likely already exist in any HR applications the business already uses, as well as turning to trusted vendors and partners to understand what measures they need to take to get the best results from AI tools and to ensure compliance with data security and privacy standards.

It makes sense to take a pragmatic approach and start by using AI capabilities in the areas you feel most comfortable with. For instance, Mineral’s2023 State of HR Report found that HR professionals are most interested in using AI to improve content creation for job descriptions, employee handbooks, and the like.

For instance, you can experiment with publicly available AI tools, such as ChatGPT, to help create first drafts, and refine them with applicable specifics for your business. Another use case to consider is using AI tools to mine company knowledge bases to answer HR-related questions with chatbots. These are good examples of time-consuming and often repetitive tasks that AI can help streamline.

Most importantly, remember that AI in HR can provide many benefits, but it works best when paired with a human touch. Humans bring empathy, judgment, and a moral compass that AI hasn’t mastered. As we move forward, it’s clear that AI will be a fantastic tool, but it won’t be taking over. Keeping humans involved ensures that our approach to HR remains compassionate, fair, and effective, making the most of what AI can offer without losing the human connection at the heart of HR. This balance isn’t just nice to have—it’s essential for an innovative and inclusive workplace.

© SMB Group, 2024

Mineral Mitratech sponsored this blog.