How Artificial Intelligence (AI) is Changing Human Resources
One of the most talked about trends in HR and recruiting has been artificial intelligence (AI). Artificial intelligence is defined by Wikipedia as “an ideal ‘intelligent’ machine [that] is a flexible rational agent that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of success at some goal.” It’s a branch of computer science that uses machine learning algorithms that mimic cognitive functions; making machines more human-like.
Human resources leaders are focused on engaging, retaining, hiring and developing humans, which is why AI is so attractive. It helps leverage intelligent machines to keep us focused on the needs of candidates and employees. However, a 2017 Gartner study found that the hype around AI is making it hard for many users to understand the technology’s true value to their organizations. The concepts of artificial intelligence are vast, complicated and ever changing,
Artificial intelligence has been around for over 50 years. There was a wave of innovation in natural language processing (NLP) in the 1970s and 80s. AI again experienced innovation in the area of expert systems in the 1980s and early 90s followed by machine learning through the 1990s. In the 2000s, computer technology and resources became more affordable and could house larger amounts of data, resulting in AI further evolving with a focus on deep learning.
Last year, I attended the HR Technology conference where the phrases “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence” were at peak hype levels. While everyone at the conference was talking about AI, I felt like we needed to step back a bit and get some foundational information on what artificial intelligence is and how it works in human resources tech.
Four Ways HR Can Use Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is focused on building human-like intelligence focused on automation. There are many opportunities for artificial intelligence in HR technology in the areas of talent sourcing, candidate evaluation, employee engagement, and employee development. And chances are, it’s already being used in your existing HR technology.
#1 Candidate screening
A number of AI tools that engage candidates either before or after they apply for a role within an organization already exist. Companies can test candidates by having them interact with a chat bot or AI tool, answering common candidate questions about the role while also asking for feedback and information about the candidate. This could help assess candidates in the quickest and most effective way possible.
#2 Candidate engagement
Fifty percent of candidates are not receiving any type of communication or having any type of interaction with an employer once they apply for a role on a career site or job board. Artificial intelligence automates a candidate engagement process that goes beyond standard automated emails or messaging workflows using systems such as Hubspot or Marketo.. Certainly, AI can be integrated into these types of candidate automation, however, these messages, responses and engagements can, with AI, be real-time and unique to the individual candidate and not just driven by a tags, positions, locations or categories.
Additionally, AI allows your team to nurture candidate relationships. Whether it’s your ATS or CRM, candidate records often go untouched after they apply for the role or after the job requisition is closed. Artificial intelligence allows you to re-engage a very targeted group of candidates to determine their interest level in a position or role, while also using that engagement opportunity to update their candidate record to reflect new positions, work experiences or skills they might have acquired since the last time they were engaged.
#3 New hire onboarding
Another machine learning-driven initiative is helping new employees get started in their roles – adapting to the day-to-day routines as well as the corporate culture at the business. While new hire orientation is effective at introducing your new hires to the company culture, processes and policies, artificial intelligence can answer other common questions and provide new hires with information and resources that support your current programs. This is key when you consider 90% of your employees forget what was covered in your meeting, training and conference call. Information and learning reinforcement are key and AI might be the answer.
#4 Employee engagement and development
Employees have questions. Sometimes they are easy ones like questions about benefits coverage, FMLA, vacation time and how they are paid. Sometimes they are more complex and might require an in-depth conversation with your HR manager or coordinator. Artificial intelligence technology can be used in chat form, email or a virtual meeting room, handing over and even booking a meeting between your HR generalist and the employee.
Your employees need support and possibly customized training, learning and career path information that a manager or leader can’t always provide. AI offers the ability to scale a career development program or company coaching for each and every employee.
Avoiding the Pitfalls of AI in HR
With all of these improvements in HR processes, you’ll want to ensure that your HR technology and vendor partners are aware of and prepared for potential pitfalls. Machine learning hasn’t quite hit the mark when it comes to understanding or processing human behavior to ensure you’re recruiting and engaging diverse and underserved candidates.
It’s important for HR leaders to understand how our artificial intelligence works and identifies patterns that might unknowingly eliminate candidates who don’t fit traditional patterns. If we are making purchase decisions, we need make sure that AI isn’t biased against candidates with a disability and choose systems that focus on inclusivity.
Finally, where we go from here is really up to HR technology companies understanding our needs, and HR and recruiting practitioners providing feedback and making suggestions to their HR technology partners. When it comes to AI and NLP, the sky really is the limit for human resources.