The Core Human Skills of Work (and Why They Matter)

November 25, 2020      By Jessica Stern

Ultimate Takeaway
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) enables us to make work more human by stripping away fairly robotic tasks.
  • Core Human Skills can be described as the skillset that machines will never be able to have, no matter how much we program or refine an AI platform.
  • AI is going to make work more human and personal.

Humans vs. The Machines

When people think of artificial intelligence (AI), images of the Terminator and other similar movies come to my mind. Thankfully, that apocalyptic scenario couldn’t be any further from the true impact machines are beginning to have upon our daily lives. Instead, researchers are finding that AI is actually helping us work more human by taking the fairly robotic tasks off our plates.

Let’s think about it like this: if you could give away any part of your job what would it be? Would it be sorting and prioritizing employee request emails? Or how about the countless hours spent analyzing hundreds of employee survey responses?

When you thought about what you wanted to give up, did you notice that it tends to be the mundane tasks that would be the perfect fit for a machine? At the same time, these repetitive tasks can be among the most time-consuming aspects of our days. If we were to remove all the tasks better suited for AI from our days, our jobs would be free to become even more productive—and fun.

The Core Human Skills of Work

Why is it so important to focus on the “fun”? Working in (or with) HR, you know how important it is to treat each employee like a person and not just a cog in the machine. Well, the same goes for you too. It’s important to not lose the “human” aspect of the job.

We like to call this aspect of the job the Core Human Skills of Work. Core Human Skills can be described as the skillset that machines will never be able to have, no matter how much we program or refine an AI platform.

A few of these skills include:

  • Creativity: dreaming up new ideas and concepts
  • Curiosity: asking questions and challenging the status quo
  • Compassion: caring for others and considering their needs
  • Collaboration: working alongside others, brainstorming, and supporting each other
  • Critical thinking: tackling problems from other perspectives, applying knowledge to new situations

These skills are important to make a person a better teammate and leader. They are what make us human.

Keeping the Humanity in Work

Ben Eubanks, principal analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory, recently partnered with UKG on a comprehensive guide discussing how HR can leverage artificial intelligence to support, not replace, our employees—without taking the human out of human resources.

One of the things Ben discusses is Moravec’s Paradox, which states that the tasks we find complex and requiring of substantial training are often easily learned by AI, and those that come naturally to humans are much more difficult for machines to pick up on. This leads us back to the Core Human Skills of Work; collaboration, critical thinking, etc. We are naturally good at these skills; in fact, we excel at them within the animal kingdom, and these types of traits are nearly impossible to program into a machine.


When we focus on the Core Human Skills of Work and let the software do the computing, we can make better strategic decisions. By stripping away the robotic aspects of our jobs, we allow our humanity element shine.

Want to read the full report by Ben Eubanks? Follow the link for a complimentary copy of How HR Can Use AI Without Losing the Human Touch.

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