The Role of Artificial Intelligence in HR

The ordinary person’s introduction to Artificial Intelligence (AI) has shuffled between extremes. Either the technology is so powerful and domineering that it threatens the very existence of humankind (Isaac Asimov’s I Robot being a primary example, or Ava in Ex Machina being a more recent example), or it is borderline docile, like BB8 in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. From Agent Smith in The Matrix to Samantha in Her, AI has been portrayed as something that is on a level beyond ordinary human understanding. Popular representations also include Tony Stark’s JARVIS, but even that was eventually overtaken by an all-powerful Ultron. Mostly Artificial Intelligence is shown as something to be feared, something that cannot be trusted with itself. But this is not always an accurate representation of the opportunities that AI can provide in countless spheres. At least that we know of, until we face an actual AI apocalypse, in which case we’d like to formally apologise to the makers of the above films for not heeding their warning in due time.

AI is not always this sinister. Or creepy. Or downright unsettling. Image Source

AI has enormous advantages even in the context of Human Resources. It has the potential to increase worker efficiency and productivity by reducing the time spent on menial and unproductive tasks. Automation in terms of applying for leaves, internal communication, and notifications can increase the time available for more important and pressing tasks. AI can be effectively implemented into the entire employee lifecycle, right from recruitment and onboarding, going on to include specialised employee experiences. Despite abundant real-time information being made available to businesses, many organisations still rely on manual methods to draw insights from collected data. This task is often left to end users or data analysts, commonly leading to delays.  AI can also help eliminate several common biases prevalent in functions performed by humans, such as hiring and human capital management. Hence, decisions driven by AI have the potential to be more rapid as well as data-informed, as well as consistent and unbiased. Here’s what AI’s role in the development of workplaces of tomorrow might look like.

AI in Recruitment

AI has the potential to make the entire recruitment process more streamlined. Everything from sourcing candidates to screening and matching them to the right set of openings can now be done with the help of AI and the accuracy of these processes will only improve as time and technology progresses. Apart from improving efficiency, it can also help in removing the element of human bias from the recruitment process. Candidate sourcing, lead nurturing, candidate screening, the interview process and finally the onboarding can all benefit from the integrated use of Artificial Intelligence.

AI in Employee Experience and Benefits

Employers can improve the way they interact with employees with the help of AI.  Real time feedback platforms, internal social networks, improved systems of rewards and recognition all play an important role in improving the employee experience. Especially in the aspect of employee benefits, AI can be used to personalise and automate the perks to be awarded. It can ensure regulatory compliance and effective communication of the respective perks all at once.

Employee Development

MasterCard is using a blend of AI and Virtual Reality applications to help employees improve their soft skills as well as train them on what to do in a crisis, such as an active shooter in the workplace or a building fire. Forbes reported that Walmart is also using Virtual Reality to train 1 million associates across its stores in the U.S. on various aspects of store operations from taking care of produce to handling crowds on Black Friday. Developments like these only go to show how some of the biggest corporations in the world are betting big time on these technologies eventually becoming indispensable to Training and Development of employees in the workplace of the future!

These cases are examples of the vast benefits that AI provides in terms of training of employees. By analysing individual needs and learning patterns, training can be customised to an individual employee’s personal requirements, thus making this investment in their training more efficient. Using AI in every stage of the training process, from imparting new and important skills to ensuring that they’re being practiced in the proper manner.

Netflix’s recent Sci-Fi horror ‘I Am Mother’ once again does very little to dispel the fear of the impending Robot Apocalypse. Are we really doomed to subservience of our AI overlords?! Image Source

All of this goes to show that AI is poised to become an integral part of the Human Resources function of tomorrow. Technology has already automated most of the processes that take up an excessively disproportionate amount of an HRBP/HR Manager’s active time. With the advent and eventual application of AI, the role of an HRBP is set to become that much more effective and crucial as they move away from admin tasks and take up activities central to the growth and development of the organisation.

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