AI is set to fundamentally disrupt organisations, creating dynamic, ever-evolving workplaces.
In the context of HR, AI presents both advantages and disadvantages, with the potential to reimagine HR roles, functions, strategies and operations.
Benefits of AI for HR
When it comes to the use of technology in any given context, there are both potential benefits and drawbacks. However, in the case of human resources, and the processes needed for recruitment, onboarding and managing the lifecycle of employment, many employers hope that AI for HR will offer the ideal solution.
Making HR teams more informed and efficient
AI can play a huge role in making HR teams more informed and efficient. This is because there are a wide range of online tools available to help streamline and expedite a number of different HR processes. This can include anything from talent mapping, helping to predict the long-term hiring needs of the business, to targeting and attracting new talent. In turn, this use of technology can equate to significant time and costs savings, reducing the number of HR personnel needed to undertake certain tasks.
In relation to talent mapping across an organisation, AI for HR can add immediate value to human resources and recruitment processes. This is because AI’s ability to provide multiple insight-driven predictions can be used to efficiently collect and analyse data around vacancies and new team requirements from across different departments. In this way, AI can significantly help HR teams to prioritise their recruitment needs.
Once the talent needs of a particular department have been identified, technology can help to source potential candidates through AI-generated custom adverts that help target the right candidate pools from across the web. Aside from adding new levels of speed and efficiency to this search process, AI systems also do a far better job of tracking candidates when compared to traditional manual processes. This is because AI systems are designed to handle large datasets, and can be programmed to understand ideal candidate traits and to identify the right candidates from a range of job search and other online platforms.
Having advertised a job role, technology can further assist in the hiring process through AI-powered automated application tracking tools, with résumé scoring and ranking. As such, AI can be used to manage and screen job applications, and to track their progress.
This type of technology can also significantly reduce a recruiter’s time in reviewing non-technical aspects of candidates, such as communication skills, through the use of either virtual recruiters or virtual reality-based dialogue systems. In some cases, AI can even be used to assess technical skills, via the use of automated systems designed to score certain exams or simulate real-life work environments to facilitate hiring candidates remotely.
Improving employee engagement and retention
Keeping employees engaged in their work and supporting their development can be key to staff retention, where there are a number of AI-based employee engagement tools available that can be used to collect data, and to identify key insights and trends, when it comes to the employee experience. For example, many employers are now using smart tools, such as chatbots, not only to collect feedback but to address any employee queries and questions.
Often described as virtual employee experience officers, a chatbot can be used to regularly check-in on staff for feedback. In this way, the chatbot can be used to help HR listen, learn and understand what it can do better to support employees across the workforce. This can also be used for employees to highlight individual concerns as and when these arise.
These online interactions could be about onboarding, career development, working environment and work culture, or any other subject matter that impacts an individual’s employment experience. However, each chat will typically only take an employee a few minutes of their time, ensuring a much higher engagement rate than traditional employee surveys or interactions. This data can then be analysed and prioritised by HR personnel and, if needed, action taken to address specific concerns, as well as deploying data-driven organisation initiatives to focus on important matters highlighted by the employee-base.
In this way, HR will be able to gain a better understanding of how each person is feeling about their time working with the organisation, and can take proactive steps to improve the individual and overall employee experience, making this as positive as possible. In turn, by improving an employee’s time at work, and their job satisfaction, this is likely to lead to increased employee engagement, greater loyalty and higher staff retention rates all round.
HR teams also have the ability to leverage AI-powered assessment tools, and its resulting data, to understand common areas of dissatisfaction expressed by those leaving the business. In-person exit interviews can be awkward and counterproductive, whereas online leaver’s surveys can often elicit much more candid responses. From issues with salary or working conditions to employee burnout due to lack of work-life balance, a person could be leaving for any number of reasons, where exit interviews can act as an invaluable tool for employers, helping to identify any problem areas and generate positive changes.
Identifying any skills gaps and training needs
Where HR are looking to up-skill the existing workforce, as an alternative to recruiting new talent, AI can be used to identify and address the training needs across each department through online survey assessments and data analysis tools. It can also be used to help identify career development and progression opportunities for key individuals, just one of the many ways in which to promote high levels of employee engagement and retention.
In this way, AI can be used to make the most of the existing talent and teams within a business, without the necessary expense of recruiting new staff to fill any skills gaps, where HR can use the data collected to identify ways to optimise the potential already present and onboard. AI within a training context can also be used to tailor the learning experience to employee needs, using it to assess an employee’s knowledge and recommend specific courses, and to identify possible career paths based on an individual’s training history.
By using AI to identify internal training and recruitment opportunities, and to identify and retain top talent within the organisation, any initial investment in AI for HR will quickly pay for itself. The time saved by using AI to complete the majority of low-value HR tasks, using AI systems to process massive amounts of data quickly and accurately, will also free up a fair amount of time for HR personnel. This means that more attention can be focused on the strategic scope of the work of HR, such as building teams that are not only happy and productive, but will remain committed to the organisation moving forward.
Risks of AI for HR
AI can offer a number of different benefits when used in the context of HR processes. However, there are also drawbacks and risks associated with the use of artificial intelligence, not least where an employer is looking to use this to downsize its HR team. Importantly, as the future of an AI-powered HR department will only be successful through the integration of both humans and machines, employers should not be looking for ways to use technology to make redundant HR personnel, but rather to enhance the way HR works.
The need for human personnel is especially critical for identifying any machine-led issues and discrepancies. For example, if a business uses an AI system programmed to datasets that are only representative of a certain demographic, then the search results will never yield the diverse candidate pools that they might be hoping for, thus resulting in bias. This means that there will always need to be a trained team of HR professionals keeping a close eye on such issues, in this way ensuring that any AI-induced risks are minimised.
Equally, leaving the task of application management entirely to technology is likely to result in overlooking valuable candidates. HR should always have some personal input when screening and selecting those for interview, rather than placing sole reliance on automated methods. In this way, HR personnel can better assess a candidate’s suitability for a role, as well as whether a particular individual is likely to be the right fit for an organisation.
It is also important to maintain a sufficient level of personal contact with candidates once any initial screening and first-round shortlisting has been undertaken. Taking a personal approach to communicating with short-listed candidates is an effective way of generating positive feeling around the employer-brand, keeping prospective hires fully engaged in the recruitment process. The trick is striking a balance between using technology to sift through candidates who do not match the relevant criteria for a job role, and introducing some form of personal contact for a more manageable number of candidates. This equally applies to the orientation of new recruits, where AI can be useful in improving the onboarding experience, but should never act as a substitute for human interaction and instruction.
Managing the risks of AI for HR
AI is primed to disrupt the HR industry as we know it, albeit predominantly in a positive way, helping to drive HR departments and, in turn, the success of a business. With greater advances in technology, and the immediate need to streamline internal processes and save costs, more and more employers will be looking to invest in human resources technology.
Still, when contemplating the use of AI for HR, technology cannot be used to replace HR personnel. Technology has its limits, where a trained team of HR professionals will always be needed, not only to deal with manual-only tasks but to manage the use of AI. As such, AI for HR is essentially about enhancing the overall abilities of the HR team, where these two key resources, both human and machine, can be used together to create a HR power house.
Ultimately, however, the success of AI for HR depends not only on human personnel embracing the use of this technology to unlock automation-powered efficiencies and data-driven decisions — as well as keeping a close eye on any issues to minimise machine-led problems — but to identify novel applications of AI to increase the efficiency of the HR department even further. It is this combination of human insight and creativity, with the abilities of AI, that will take candidate and employee engagement to a whole new level.
Preparing for advancements in AI
Within highly competitive labour markets, and increasing costs when it comes to running a business, AI automation is likely to play an increasing role in helping to optimise business processes and keep recruitment costs to a minimum. AI is here to stay and grow in use.
Still, the increased use in AI within HR departments does not need to be unnecessarily disruptive, provided employers ensure that their HR personnel are prepared to embrace its potential. This all comes down to training which, depending on the size and resources of the business, can either be done in-house or outsourced to a specialist provider.
HR teams may feel under immense pressure to keep up with these fast-paced transformations without the right support, so by getting staff up-to-speed on how online systems work, from the necessary AI skills and digital dexterity to how to get the most out of the technology, employers can maximise the return on their AI investment. In turn, they can begin to reap the rewards of an integrated HR and AI team, one which can advance to even greater levels with the anticipated acceleration in the use of AI for HR.
DavidsonMorris’ HR specialists provide guidance on adopting new technologies such as AI. With increasing practical applications of Artificial Intelligence within Human Resource Management, we can help with full consideration of the pros and cons for your organisation. Contact us for advice.
AI & HR FAQs
How is HR used in AI?
AI is primarily being used by HR to automate certain repetitive, time-intensive tasks to free HR professionals up to focus on more complex work.
Is AI the future of HR?
How AI will affect HR?
AI is being used to transform HR through improved efficiencies and enhanced productivity.
What are the benefits of AI in HR?
There are several benefits in using artificial intelligence (AI) when it comes to the various HR processes needed for recruitment, onboarding and managing the lifecycle of employment, including using AI to make HR teams more informed and efficient.
Will HR be taken over by AI?
While certain mundane tasks and some administration roles may be undertaken by AI, it is unlikely that HR will be fully replaced by AI in relation to more complex project.
How artificial intelligence will change HR?
Artificial intelligence will undoubtedly play a much bigger role within HR departments in the coming years, where advances in technology mean that far more manual processes can be replaced with the use of AI, with significant time and costs savings.
Last updated: 24 January 2023