8 Ways AI is Changing HR

8 Ways AI is Changing HR: Organizational leaders and human resources executives are confident that incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into HR functions such as onboarding and administration of benefits can improve the employee experience.

As stated by IBM’s 2017 survey of 6,000 executives, “Extending expertise: How cognitive computing is transforming HR, and the employee experience,” 66%of CEOs feel that cognitive computing can significantly increase the value in HR.

Half of HR executives support that claim, saying they acknowledge that cognitive computing can revolutionize key components of HR. Additionally, 54% of HR executives hold the opinion that cognitive computing will affect crucial roles in the HR organization.

However, it’s not all positive. The Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) reported in a 2017 survey that 52% of respondents indicated their businesses were not likely to incorporate AI into their HR departments within the next five years. Approximately 36 % feel that their organization was not big enough to do so, and 28% said their senior leadership failed to see the need for such technology.

The question of “to AI or not to AI” may still go unanswered for many organizations, but a few have already jumped on the bandwagon. We’ve found some examples of companies that have invested in AI and cognitive computing for their HR departments.

1. Individualized Employee Experiences

In their study, IBM officials deliberated about how AI recruiting can successfully be incorporated into an employee’s onboarding program. New employees who typically want to meet people and obtain information may not know where to look. They may ask their desk neighbor. But what if they belong to a different department? “What if Tom had the opportunity to be welcomed with new hire information on his mobile device that was personalized for his first assignment?” IBM officials wrote in the report on changing HR with AI.

IBM’s goal is to create a system that can answer a new employee’s most urgent or critical job questions to help get them oriented rapidly. An AI, for example, could impart training suggestions or the names, locations, and contact information for people they should aim to connect with within their first couple of days. AI engines could also inform that same employee that a new hire webpage includes relevant and helpful information.

2. Cognitive-Supporting Decision-Making

IBM officials, who are inherently promoting their own AI abilities through IBM Watson, also exhibited how cognitive engines could assist employees in arriving at important day-to-day decisions in the workplace. Typically, HR team members would be responsible for handling these tasks.

  • Vacation requests – Employees that wish to request vacation days are informed that it is unlikely to be permitted due to many others who have already booked vacations within the same time frame.
  • Taking your mood into account – An employee makes a client call. Following the call, the employee is informed that they seem anxious and should take a breather before heading into their next meeting.
  • Team training – When an organization wishes to take a more systematic approach to employee training, team managers are given a list of training opportunities the team members can take.
  • Hiring processes – A hiring manager is provided with information that the company’s recruitment approach is insufficient because it does not interview enough candidates. Cognitive solutions can aid organizations by making use of multiple data sources and discovering new insights to help companies create candidate profiles.

3. Computerization of ‘Repetitive, Low-Value Add Tasks’

Kate Guarino, the director of human resources operations at Pegasystems, said that AI offers the opportunity for HR to automate “repetitive, low-value add tasks” and escalate the emphasis on more strategic work. She cited the example of HR investing time in processing the steps of onboarding a new employee (allotting space, providing a laptop, etc.). Decreasing time spent on those areas can allow HR teams the flexibility to focus on “value-add work like mentoring and continuous feedback.”

Rob May, the CEO, and co-founder of Talla, claimed that, as AI tools automate away minor HR tasks like benefits management and triaging frequent questions and requests, HR teams will be “free to do more of the creative and strategic work that has a bigger impact on the success of their companies.”

4. AI Recruiters

Both applicants and employees anticipate custom experiences personalized for their individual needs as they apply for a new job, select the right benefits, or delving into new development opportunities.

Guarino said companies have established “AI recruiters” to automate scheduling interviews, give continuous feedback to candidates, and reply to their questions in real time. This is especially helpful in industries that have a high demand for employees, like healthcare recruiting. “This allows,” Guarino said, “the human recruiters to spend more time converting candidates to hires.”

5. More Effective People Analytics

For years, companies have been compiling data on their customers to gain insights to anticipate future behavior, Guarino added. She also elaborated, saying HR teams have a long way to go in terms of leveraging people analytics. “Determining what data to track, analyze, manage, and protect will enable AI to play a larger role within HR,” Guarino said. “In the never-ending war for talent, companies will look to find innovative ways to attract top talent. Technologies that enhance the candidate experience and meet the candidate’s digital expectations will help distinguish companies from one another.”

6. Eliminating Biases

In the survey by the Human Resources Professional Association, researchers discovered that, even when employers aim to be inclusive, they may subconsciously favor candidates that are most similar to them– this is known as “unconscious bias.” Language bias is the bias that, unfortunately, is relevant as well. It’s been recognized by a psychological tool called the Implicit Association Test (IAT) that illustrates people’s subconscious word associations indicate bias. “These biases find their way into job descriptions, as well as resume selections. Now, thanks to AI, algorithms can be designed to help employers identify and remove these bias patterns in a language they use to improve their hiring communications and welcome diverse applicants,” HRPA researchers remarked.

AI also can present managers with candidates who may have been filtered out due to the human tendency to prefer candidates with similar traits or talents.

Tom Marsden, CEO of Saberr, told HRPA researchers that algorithms lack those tendencies, which allows managers to ignore gut feelings and rely on data-centric assessments instead.

7. Identifying Exiting Employees

Veriato’s AI platforms are composed to pinpoint employees that may be heading for the exit. It keeps track of employee computer activity– emails, keystrokes, internet browsing, etc.– and saves it for one month. It then establishes an AI system that analyzes the data to detect a baseline of regular activity patterns in the organization. “Based on that knowledge,” HRPA researchers noted, “it flags outliers and reports them to the employer and also detects changes in the overall tone of employees’ communications to predict when employees might be thinking of leaving.”

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Conclusion

As much as AI may disrupt the HR technology landscape, Guarino points out that HR teams must balance these cognitive tech improvements with transparency. “HR leaders and practitioners need to have a clear understanding of how decisions are being made to mitigate unknowingly injecting bias into their programs,” she said. “This transparency will be essential in making sure that employees trust the new technology.”