Jeff Smith, Other HR Executives Offer Insights into the Implications of AI and Automation of the Workforce

Jeff Smith HR
5 min readApr 12, 2024


Jeff Smith believes that one of the biggest challenges and opportunities the human resources industry faces is artificial intelligence and automation in the workforce. “The move to data analytics is a top and key capability for most companies so the HR function needs to be data literate,” says Smith. AI analytics empowers companies to better manage every aspect of their business, from predicting customer behavior and detecting patterns in user behavior to developing strategies to optimize performance or capitalize on opportunities before competitors do.

Jeff Smith, BlackRock’s former chief human resources officer, oversaw all aspects of HR management, such as compensation, employee benefits, and policies, practices, and operations for the organization. In this role, he also advised the company about developing philanthropic strategies and corporate diversity.

As a human resources professional and agent of change, he recognizes that providing a framework for employees to develop their skills is critical to enhancing employee experiences and raising performance standards. Smith explained that figuring out how to build that capability across an enterprise is another challenge companies face. He says, “I think data and the ability to provide analytics around the right issues is key to HR and the business.”

What is the difficulty of measuring human characteristics and HR outcomes? “You need to make sure you are measuring things through employee surveys and metrics associated with hiring and retention, but you also have to have some faith and belief in your practices because it is imperfect in terms of measurement,” explains Smith.

AI in the Workforce

Artificial Intelligence is already changing the way we work. A 2023 report from Tidio, a customer service platform, found that businesses using AI grew by 300% in five years. The report stated that 83% of companies are considering using AI, and by 2025, nearly 100 million people will work in the AI space.

However, as technology evolves, “jobs will be displaced for sure,” says Jeff Smith, HR executive. “AI should augment human abilities. In its best form, it will enhance decision making through providing insights and data analysis in a faster, more efficient way to ideally be processed and used by humans.”

AI reduces the time it takes to recruit top talent. “With the help of AI, these professionals can generate customized sequences of messages and communications for each candidate, helping to improve engagement and response rates,” Aleksander Dolgov, co-founder and chief people officer of Skipp, the talent-as-a-service platform for tech professionals, told Business News Daily. “Additionally, AI can be used to track and analyze conversion rates, allowing recruiters and hiring managers to identify and refine their most successful outreach strategies.”

It’s an excellent aid to the onboarding process since AI can quickly and accurately verify employee documents, conduct induction training, and handle administrative tasks such as access to company software and hardware and providing IDs.

Nick Gallimore, former managing director of people and management at Advanced, a business software company, told Business News Daily, “This ensures that at no part during the process will a candidate be ‘left hanging’ or ‘ghosted,’ which retains a positive image/reputation for the brand, which is vital in today’s very competitive talent market. This frees up HR staff to focus on more complex tasks. AI can also help to personalize the onboarding process by analyzing data on each employee, such as their skills and preferences, and tailoring their training accordingly.”

AI is used to automate tasks such as payroll and benefits administration. It also creates interview questions, job descriptions, contracts, and policies. Smith said, “I think it will heavily impact knowledge workers, although there will definitely be some automation of routine tasks. I think the ethical and social considerations are huge and need to be thought through in a deep way.”

HR Insights from Jeff Smith, BlackRock’s Former CHRO

Despite the rise in AI and automation, human interaction is the essence of the industry. “The HR job, done well, is one of the hardest jobs there is. There’s an incredible amount of balancing that has to be done-driving the strategic talent agenda to standing up and being courageous about pushing people to make difficult talent decisions,” Jeff Smith, BlackRock’s former chief human resources officer, told ExCo Leadership.

He continued, “There’s a lot of loyalty to employees, as there should be, but you also have to keep pushing a mindset that’s always asking, what is the talent we need for clients, and who are the people that are going to drive us to the future? As a CHRO, you have to be very willing to have a bunch of people frustrated with you at any point in time and be able to work through that with a lot of resilience. And that’s why it’s so important to have a compass that is clearly communicated.”

He maintained that the best chief human resources officers “have a deep vision and ambition for change. There’s no arrogance, but there is confidence in their ability to do that.”

He told ExCo Leadership that that quality came from “being incredibly frustrated in places where I could very easily see some pretty simple things that could be done to change and help an organization, or where I could see people who were just doing their jobs instead of really having a passion for driving real outcomes.”

Jeff Smith, HR executive, continued, “But you have to approach this job with patience. If you try to push things at the wrong time, when the environment around you isn’t going to accept it, it’s not going to be as effective as picking the right moment. I try to be thoughtful about what we are trying to do and the pace at which we’re trying to do it, even though I may feel deeply impatient at times.”

While he was the human resources executive at BlackRock, Jeff Smith was a member of the Global Executive Committee and Global Operating Committee. He also has years of experience at Time Warner, America Online, and Barclays Global Investors. Smith earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from the University of Connecticut. In 1997, Smith obtained a Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, also known as Virginia Tech.

“Industrial and Organizational Psychology focuses on leadership theories and theories of motivation, which is very applicable to the business world,” said Smith. “Being psychologically minded is very helpful in terms of thinking through interpersonal dynamics and not just focusing on the business issue at hand but on the people who are dealing with the issue. I always found it most helpful in building strong relationships and also in building teams.”

The nuances of discerning those skills cannot be automated-yet.

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Originally published at on April 12, 2024.



Jeff Smith HR

Jeff Smith is a human resources expert. Previously, he worked at BlackRock as Head of Global Human Resources.