Artificial Intelligence in HR

Posted in Managing HR | by Jiehui Kwa on 20 June 2017

Last updated on 2 November 2018

“Artificial Intelligence” – or “A.I.” for short – is a word we’ve seen buzzing around the Internet at an increasing rate. While people like Stephen Hawking are raising the alarm about A.I.’s potential to destroy humanity, HR professionals take a more optimistic stance.

 

Chatbots are just one example of simple A.I. tools that offer various practical applications. These programs essentially simulate human interaction, allowing users to engage in full-blown conversations with the AI.

 

So what does this mean for the human resources field? The answer is “virtually anything.”

 

Recruitment

Recruitment is arguably one of the most critical functions for HR professionals. It’s the first line of defense against hiring the wrong people. Unfortunately, incompatible candidates will inevitably slip through the cracks, only to quit or be terminated within months. In many cases, this is due to human fallibility – a pitfall that A.I. does not possess.

 

The Halo Effect

Every recruiter knows about the halo effect. It is a topic that appears in textbooks long before an aspiring recruiter (or other HR expert) enters the workplace. Simply put, the halo effect is a human tendency to evaluate someone favorably (or unfavorably) based on a first impression. It is a serious flaw in human psychology and the ramifications can be quite severe.

 

AI, such as chatbots, will never fall victim to this sort of problem. They’re incapable of being influenced by human psychology because – well – they’re not human. Programmers can insert a system of questions and desirable answers, which the bot follows like a formula. There is no potential for bias that undoubtedly deprives great candidates of valuable opportunities.  

Consistency

While organizations have differing approaches to interview questions, they usually follow a certain formula or grading system. Again, however, human fallibility means that even the best formula is not foolproof.

 

If A.I. becomes a standard tool in recruitment, programs can objectively judge an interviewee’s responses and provide an unbiased evaluation. Consequently, it may usher in a new era where candidates cannot charm recruiters with disingenuous behavior or rehearsed answers.

 

A.I. for Employees

Supervisors and human resources staff alike have a lot to deal with on a daily basis. With all of the tasks in front of them, dealing with questions or requests could become disruptive. Once again, A.I. is a viable future solution.

 

General Inquiries

Policies, procedures and other information may be readily available in writing, but this is far from ideal. Finding answers among a sea of paragraphs and subheadings is daunting, leading to misunderstandings or a bombardment of questions to senior staff. But what if workers could have the best of both worlds? In other words, a way to ask specific questions without tying up others’ time?

 

By placing information into an A.I. tool, employees can simply type their question and receive a very human-like answer. Cumulatively, this has the capacity to save a great deal of time and productivity for HR departments and supervisors.

 

Requests

Before computers – let alone A.I. – became the norm in workplaces everywhere, things like leave or time off requests were dealt with directly between senior staff and workers. Today, many companies use self-service platforms for employees to submit such requests, but this still requires some form of human interaction. After all, it is still up to management to approve these.

 

A.I. can easily be programmed to process things like leave and vacation time. By accessing current staffing levels and predicting future business needs, such systems have the capacity to approve or deny leave based on the aforementioned analytics.

 

A.I. and Training

A lot of organizations are quick to blame poor employee performance on staff. But when it becomes a pattern, the issue might be in the training itself. The problem with learning is that there is more than one style. Unfortunately, schools and learning programs alike are usually designed to follow a rigid formula. Typically, this comes in the form of a lecture with perhaps some hands-on work. While it may be perfect for some, sticking to one strategy causes talented individuals to slip through the proverbial cracks.

 

Personalized Coaching

Imagine being able to give each employee access to their own personalized coach that gradually improves over time. Hiring someone to provide one-on-one support to each worker is logistically – and financially – impossible. But the beauty of A.I. is that the system learns from its users and adapts training and coaching to maximize the value of individuals’ learning experiences. The end result is more comprehensive, effective training with better overall organizational performance.

 

Future Expectations

Regardless of its current or potential uses, A.I.’s general function within the realm of HR can be summed up in one word: “personalization.” This technology’s ability to learn and adapt will allow employees and employers alike to interact with a system that understands them on a personal level. In doing so, software can learn how to handle different functions in the most efficient way possible, with minimal – if any – human interaction. While some of A.I.’s functions are well-established and put into practice, there is no telling where this technology will go for human resources and beyond.

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