Great Meetings

How AI Puts the Humanity Back into HR

If you have an eye on trends in business and tech, then you already know that AI – Artificial Intelligence – is set to revolutionize the work we do and the way we do it: something we’ve written about here and here. But while there are numerous articles and reports focusing on the way AI is transforming roles from IT to Business Intelligence, there’s one department that’s often neglected in this discussion: Human Resources. But the work of HR has always been central to Doodle’s mission to enable great meetings by streamlining their organization and we just happen to be at the cutting edge of AI. So, we feel well-equipped to speak to the impact AI is set to have on HR departments. Our prediction? We think AI has the potential to bring the human touch back to overburdened HR departments. Here’s our rundown on how the landscape of HR technology and processes is changing, and how these changes will impact HR departments today and tomorrow:

Hiring

As any HR professional can tell you, the work of managing personnel also extends to seeking out and recruiting the best talent, from networking and crafting employment advertisements to screening applications and overseeing the interview process. And while the focus may remain firmly on people, HR departments deal with a huge amount of data throughout the hiring process. Job advertisements can attract hundreds, even thousands, of applications – and research shows that, of the applications submitted for a typical position, 75-88% don’t meet the requirements for the role. Scanning applications from a large candidate pool is exactly the kind of high-volume task AI can assist with, sifting through a large database of resumes to narrow down a shortlist. Many AI specialists even believe that automated application screening will eventually eliminate bias in the recruiting process. And while AI screening makes life easier for HR workers, job-seekers will also benefit, according to HR professional Stacey Browning of Paycor. Speaking with Forbes, she notes that, ‘‘In recruiting, automation’s infinitely scalable levels of efficiency mean that, regardless of the volume of candidates, each receives a timely correspondence. For candidates, being kept in the loop with a thoughtful and sincerely worded email is what makes the difference.”

Streamlined Processes

Perhaps more than any other department in a typical workplace, Human Resources is tasked with the challenge of striking a balance between working effectively at the micro level, by meeting the needs and addressing the concerns of individual employees, and at the macro level, by shaping workplace culture and policy. Both modes of work are critically important, but many HR workers find themselves overwhelmed with administrative work that leaves them little time for big-picture strategy. Repetitive yet crucial tasks, like approving leave requests, can’t be neglected without causing serious frustration to individual employees; but a HR worker who spends hours scheduling leave doesn’t get much time to flex their capabilities or implement more ambitious HR strategy. Here’s where AI comes in: the same high-volume, low value-adding tasks that can so quickly become monotonous to human workers are the tasks AI excels at. AI applications can take over work like scheduling vacation and sickness time or allocating desks to new hires. Thanks to chatbots who can field questions from new employees, they’re even streamlining the onboarding process. With these tasks taken care of, HR workers can take on more challenging tasks, without depersonalizing individual employee experiences.

Future Innovations

While AI technology is yet to be embraced by every HR department, many firms – especially big firms with large volumes of employee data – are already implementing AI applications to streamline the hiring process and alleviate HR’s administrative workload. But the future of AI in HR promises even more exciting possibilities. As the technology develops, expect AI to deliver more profound insights into employees, in particular their stress levels and satisfaction rate. One AI platform, Veriato, already promises to identify employees struggling at work or thinking of leaving a company, all based on ‘…employee computer activity — emails, keystrokes, internet browsing, etc.’ By analyzing the data set, Veriato can detect changes in employee engagement and performance. As AI’s learnings about employees are refined further and further, HR workers will have a wealth of concrete information and insight to work with as they strive to manage and optimize employee experience.

Time to Pivot

The key takeaway here? It’s time for HR to embrace AI in order to pivot away from repetitive, low value tasks and towards strategizing a more personalized, insightful and effective HR experience. Despite the name, the biggest benefit Artificial Intelligence can bring to today’s HR departments is the scope for an increasingly personal touch. A recent IBM report predicts that implementing AI will allow HR workers to spend more time developing talent through personalized learning programs and improving performance through career coaching and intelligent, targeted employee feedback, as well as optimizing recruitment, onboarding and offboarding processes.

HR makes sure that a workplace gets the best out of its people – thanks to AI, soon workplaces can be sure they’re getting the best out of their HR department, too.

By Jessica Miller

Jessica Miller is an Australian writer currently based in Berlin.

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