Adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) is on the increase, but its critics are still fearful that the technology could replace human workers and even do much of the work of HR.
An ongoing debate is whether AI will replace us in the workplace, however AI will support, rather than replace, HR. You can’t escape it: everywhere you turn, AI is taking over.
Emergence of AI
Artificial intelligence caught attention of the world when Deep Blue computer beat the world champion Gary Kasparov. That was in 1997. It was not too distant in the past, just twenty-one years earlier. The second game is the most discussed game in that contest for our purpose. Kasparov set up a trap by offering a ‘poisoned pawn.’ A poisoned pawn means an unprotected pawn; when the opponent attacks it he effectively falls in a trap which weakens his position and he is likely to lose the game. His assessment was that most computers, thinking mechanically, fall for it, but Deep Blue did not. Kasparov alleged that there was human intervention at work with Deep Blue. Apparently, that was not the case. Subsequent analysis showed that both Kasparov and Deep Blue missed opportunities of perpetual check.
The incident sparked discussion on whether machines can reach intelligence levels of human beings or can even surpass human intelligence. Incidentally, experts feel that Deep Blue did not possess anything like artificial intelligence. There are more powerful machines available now.
Relevance of AI in Human Resource Function
Often looked upon as a topic of disbelief, Artificial Intelligence or AI is challenging human beings at a different level. In order to appreciate the impact of Artificial Intelligence on Human Resource Management, I will explore the nature of artificial intelligence, its capabilities, the impact on organisations, and how an HR Manager can leverage AI to foster growth and innovation.
AI is a machine’s ability to mimic human capabilities such as learning, problem-solving, and perception. Organizational leaders and human resources executives have faith that merging artificial intelligence (AI) into HR functions like onboarding and administration of benefits can and will improve the overall employee experience.
Most enterprises are already using AI in their workplace with much more expecting to use it by 2018. Today, most employees expect their jobs will become augmented by AI in the near future.
“Most enterprises are already using AI in their workplace with much more expecting to use it by 2018. Today, most employees expect their jobs will become augmented by AI in the near future”
- AI will Automate Screening and Reduce Human Bias
Human bias can influence many aspects of recruitment: Humans tend to stereotype and make uninformed choices based on gender, ethnicity and so on. Crucially, AI can be programmed to ignore a candidate’s background. For example, in 2015 Google began using an internal recruitment tool called qDroid, which provides interviewers more reliable interview questions based on the position that the candidate is interviewing for, and that disregards candidate background.
Organizations are using AI to automate recruiting tasks and believes AI’s biggest impact will be in automating candidate screening and reducing bias. AI can learn the qualifications of employees who are successful in a role and apply this knowledge to screen, rank, and grade candidates who match the criteria.
Companies using AI for recruiting software have seen promising results such as a 71% decrease in cost per hire and a threefold increase in recruiter efficiency. AI has also got the huge potential to reduce unconscious bias during the screening process since AI can ignore demographic-related information about a candidate’s age, race, and sex.
- AI will Reduce Errors and Improve Compliance
AI will help reduce errors and minimize compliance fines because AI is best suited for collecting and compiling data quickly and without human error. Mid – to senior -level professionals will reap the value of AI the most.
- AI will Augment Corporate Training
The biggest impact AI will have on HR is augmenting corporate training and coaching. Coaching via AI is a new way to help managers understand their team’s feedback and put it to use immediately.
While AI can replace the delegation aspect of management, true leaders can’t be replaced because AI won’t be able to replace soft skills that empower, motivate and develop employees.
- AI will Increase Adoption of Metrics and Analytics
AI will help HR finally become a strategic partner through the adoption of metrics and analytics.
Using analytics, AI will help managers identify new hires with the highest probability of success, place them on the right teams paired with the right supervisor, recommend learning opportunities and career path options, and even suggest the likelihood of their flight risk.
- AI will Enhance Candidate Assessment
One of the key challenges for HR departments is selecting promising candidates from a large number of applicants. AI allows a number of the stages of the recruitment workflow to be automated. This means that more data can be gathered and assessed for each candidate and more candidates can be assessed overall.
Innovative companies that provide AI recruitment solutions include Glider, who use sophisticated algorithms to assess candidates’ skill sets.
Erica Hill, managing editor at HireVue – software that combines digital video with predictive analytics, is excited by AI’s potential to enhance recruiters’ ability to make hiring decisions.
Today, AI can help assess candidates and speed up the time to hire without sacrificing quality of hire. For example, AI can turn a 15-minute video interview into a set of 20,000 data points on facial movements, intonation, and word choice to assess a candidate.
- AI will Automate Candidate Outreach
AI will enable us to be more productive and efficient by automating tasks.
In terms of recruiting and managing talent, AI will have the biggest impact as CV screening, interview scheduling, and communication with candidates, however, automating tasks does not reduce the need for people. Instead, AI automation creates more time for people to tackle bigger, more important challenges.
- AI will Streamline Employee Onboarding
Adelyn Zhou, chief marketing officer of TOPBOTS – an AI research, education and advisory firm, positions AI’s role as replacing many of the mundane tasks in HR and freeing HR’s time to focus on what they do best: nurturing, cultivating, and working with talent.
Intelligent bots will act as virtual assistants in the employee onboarding process, by creating new employee profiles and helping staff answer basic questions about benefits, insurance, and company policies.
- AI will Improve Workplace Learning
George Elfond, CEO at Rallyware – a workforce engagement platform, has stated that the use of AI in HR is still getting to the point of critical mass of data. He believes the quicker that companies embrace AI technologies, the easier it will be for them to adapt and lead in the future.
According to Elfond, companies who have employed AI-based learning technology have seen impressive results, such as a 32% increase in employee productivity and a 43% increase in employee retention.
- AI will Reveal New Insights on Talent
AI has the potential to challenge long-held HR assumptions with new insights as AI will is capable of providing insights that can open up entirely new candidate pools by identifying a diverse set of experiences, abilities, and mindsets that are better predictors of success.
- AI will show the Value of the Human Touch
AI is an exciting advancement that promises to make day-to-day life for HR much easier.
HR departments are inundated with questions from employees. A significant number of these questions can be answered using AI. By programming automated email or instant messaging replies to common questions, the workload for HR departments can be reduced. This frees up HR personnel to answer more complex questions and engage more effectively with a company’s employees. Additionally, AI could soon play a role in other more mundane HR tasks.
While artificial intelligence will be beneficial for HR in terms of helping with record keeping and dealing with tasks that can be automated, it will never replace people as no amount of technology can replace the simple comfort and reassurance that comes from speaking to another human being who cares.
- Cognitive-Supporting Decision-Making
AI could help employees arrive at key day-to-day decisions in the workplace. Usually, HR team members would have to handle these tasks.
Vacation requests – Employees that want to put in for vacation days are informed that it is unlikely to be approved as many others have already booked vacation in that time frame.
Artificial intelligence is playing a more significant role in business than ever before. HR and recruiting, like many areas of business, look set to be transformed by the power of AI. HR leaders and practitioners need to have a clear understanding of how decisions are being made to mitigate unknowingly injecting bias into their programs. If the 10 areas listed above are anything to go by, it looks as if this increase will lead to positive change in HR value chain.
By– Vartul Mittal, Ex- Digital Business Transformation Lead and Assistant Vice President – Continuous Improvement, LEAN & RPA at Barclays.