Will Humans Stay in Human Resources?
AI-Powered HR: Shaping the Future of Workforce Management
Soni Market Director David Birdwell’s keynote presentation, AI-Powered HR: Shaping the Future of Workforce Management, emphasized the three main uses of AI—generative, predictive, and conversational—and how each can streamline HR processes. Drawing from examples at tech giants like Google, Microsoft, OpenAI, and NVIDIA, he stressed the importance of balancing automation and human engagement. Birdwell encouraged HR professionals to champion AI adoption in their workplaces and recommended tools such as Midjourney, Grammarly, Microsoft 365 Copilot, and SeamlessM4T. He underscored that AI empowers HR to accomplish more, save time, and improve productivity and quality.
One of the overarching takeaways from Birdwell’s presentation was the inevitability of humans remaining in HR and doing so with enhanced capabilities and increased respect if they can embrace AI tools. AI can help with data processing, automation, talent acquisition, and employee retention. It falls short with storytelling and cultural fit assessments, which is where he recommends that HR talent teams focus their energy rather than worrying about mundane tasks that can be automated or streamlined.
Birdwell’s message was clear: AI won’t replace your jobs, but individuals who understand AI might.
After the presentation, discussions between HR leaders spread throughout the room as everyone shared their experience with AI and what their company was doing to embrace or control it. Bette Francis, Chief Human Resources Officer at YMCA of Delaware, was enthusiastic about the possibilities ahead, stating, “This presentation was timed perfectly as we are about to start our executive strategic planning sessions, and we will use today’s information to help guide those discussions.”
Rodrigo Fuentes, Manager of Total Rewards-Mergers & Acquisitions at BAYADA, agreed, “We very much appreciated seeing that we are not alone in our limited understanding of AI, and these conversations have encouraged us to dive into AI in the workplace and make sure we find the perfect place to utilize it.”
Can Obesity Be Cured by a Medication? If So, Is It Worth the Cost?
A Panel Discussion on Prescription Solutions for Weight Loss
Following the keynote presentation, the symposium featured a compelling panel discussion led by Kelly Benefits Strategies Vice President and Senior Consultant Jamie Danner, titled, Prescription Solutions for Weight Loss: Exploring a New Frontier. The panelists, including Alex McNamara, PharmD, Clinical Pharmacist at RxBenefits; George Murphy, Executive Vice President at 4c Digital Health; and Dr. Reetika Kumar, Market Medical Executive and Vice President of Strategic Clinical Solutions at Independence Blue Cross, discussed the complexities of covering GLP1 drugs for employee weight loss. They emphasized the need for a holistic health care approach and highlighted the risks associated with solely relying on these drugs to cure obesity–however enticing they may be.
The panel addressed the alarming statistic that 41% of Americans are obese, and all agreed that this is a pervasive issue that employers do need to consider when building out a total benefit reward package but cautioned that these drugs might not be the best, or only, answer. Although these drugs are the “treatment du jour,” they come with potential health risks for the employee and massive expenses to the employer. They also highlighted the pressure doctors feel to prescribe these drugs so that their ratings on platforms like Yelp will remain high, even when it may not be in the best interest of patients.
Because the drugs are so new in the weight-loss space, the return on investment (ROI) on these obesity drugs is not yet fully established, which makes rationalizing covering the cost a difficult decision for employers. However, employees are increasingly considering employer coverage of GLP1 drugs when choosing where to work, indicating a shift in priorities.
Although the panel discussion was only 45 minutes long, the conversation continued well into the next break as attending HR professionals discussed how their companies are handling this rapidly evolving trend. Kim Hudson, Director of People at Quadratec, noted, “It’s a current and emerging topic that we could spend hours discussing and analyzing. There are so many questions around the GLP1 topic, and I look forward to more conversations just like this one.”
Despite concerns, all panelists agreed that GLP1 drugs could be a powerful tool in the continuum of weight management strategies that should be considered within an employee benefit offering, but only when administered alongside a holistic lifestyle coaching program.
By the end of the discussion, it was clear that there are more questions than answers when it comes to employers covering GLP1 drugs for weight loss, but employees may not wait around for their employers to decide.
The Kelly Benefits Strategies Fall Symposium was a resounding success, bringing together HR professionals and health care experts to tackle pressing issues and explore innovative solutions in the industry.
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