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AI is a broad term of all forms of demonstrated intelligence by machines. It encapsulates everything from simple customer-service queries to sophisticated deep learning networks. So has AI impacted HR and how will it impact HR in the future?
It has been around since the 1940’s and has become a real hype in the last ten to twenty years. The problem with AI is, is that it is something like the internet in the 1980’s: everybody is talking about it, little people actually know what they are talking about, and even less people are getting business value out of it. Today we find AI in: self-driving cars, chat-bots answering questions, email spam filters and more. In this blog I will try and make an attempt to belong to the second category and show you where AI stands right now in HR and where I believe it will go to.
Firstly let’s start off with a quick note for sceptics towards AI and their idea that robots will take over the world, as Hollywood shows us in movies like ‘I, Robot’, ‘Terminator’, and ‘The Matrix’. Experts themselves have no idea when we can achieve Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), as in the movie robots, and are guessing somewhere near the end of this century or even after that. Furthermore, they argue that it is simply impossible for us to create beings which think like us because of one simple reason: we know very little our own brain. In other words; we almost know nothing about our brains, let alone reproducing them. Now that’s out of the way, let’s see where we are today in HR.
Where we are today
Today AI is being used within HR on a limited scale, let’s start of by looking at recruitment. There are already algorithms who help recruiters source the right candidates and there are also applications which can scan resume’s and search for certain key words and sentences indicating that he or she has the right profile. Another feature of AI which is currently being used is in the first stages of contact with a candidate. You can think of automated messaging, scheduling interviews, providing ongoing feedback about the recruitment process and answering their questions in a chat function. The main idea behind these simple tasks is to reduce bias and save recruiters time which they can spend on more important tasks, such as: assessing cultural fit, holding technical interviews and finding qualified referrals.
AI is also being used within HR as a chatbot for general HR-related inquiries (such as Una from Unilever). These bots function as first-line HR support for all your employees. Another interesting development is the use of VR (Virtual Reality) within HR. It is being used to simulate real-life scenario’s and test, measure and improve behaviour. VR is and will be an integral part of training for real-life situations and how your employees will handle them. The idea behind these developments is to, yet again, relieve your HR employees from simple tasks, assignments, and recorded training sessions and let them focus on the harder tasks, such as talent development and culture building.
Finally, there are also early signs of applications which analyse the data and computer activity of employees to predict who is thinking about leaving the company and when. The idea behind it is that with big data analysis you can see which digital office behaviour indicates that somebody is thinking about quitting the company. This will allow your HR employees to take up contact with the individual to see if there is anything that can be done to change the individuals mind or if you need to think about a mutual agreement on ending the employment and start looking for a replacement. In this sense it is important because these early signs can let you be ahead of the curve so you can have a smooth transition from one employee leaving and a new one taking his or her place.
Want to find more on where AI stands in HR today? Have a look at this article from the HR Exchange Network.
Where we will go in the future
In the short term the above mentioned methods will become more sophisticated. So automated sourcing, resume scanning, messaging, chatbots, VR training and employee data analysis will be able to direct you towards more specific answers. We all know the frustration of a chatbot which just keeps you sending to the same general page on the topic from the FAQ, while the info you really need is somewhere else. Just as anything in real life, that on its own will take time. The AI will need time learning from the input that we give it.
More interestingly, I believe that AI will also have a place in face-to-face contact with the first interviews. I think that companies like Furhat Robotics will also introduce their life-like customer service robots in the realm of HR. This can be via a digital setup or even in person. The robot will deal with the basic questions which get asked in a first interview. Algorithms will then analyse the answers given to see which candidate made the best first impression. Additionally, I also think that VR sessions can be used to test candidates on their capabilities into handling different situations. The upside here is that it takes out all personal bias from a recruiter’s perspective towards the candidate.
Another thing that AI will bring HR is new jobs. Up until now I have only described AI as a possibility of downsizing activities and how it might replace jobs in the future. On the other hand it opens up opportunities for HR to be a real tool to increase the productivity of your company. The future of HR will be more focussed towards behaviour, culture, ethics and values and how these can be pointed in the direction which makes sense for your business. Those areas of focus are, not unimportantly, also the main reasons of motivation on how you motivate somebody to JOIN and STAY in your company (find out more about motivations here), so therefore it should be the main focus of your HR department.
Want to find out more about present and upcoming trends of AI in HR? Have a look at this article from Forbes.
For now I am not ready to board the hype train about scientific robots who think and act like humans. I do think however that AI will clear up routine tasks for us which will leave us in HR time to deal with more important issues, such as creating the right culture, stimulating and describing right behaviour and increasing productivity. Do you not want to wait ten to twenty years until AI clears up your HR department’s time for these issues? Contact us and see how we can help you to develop the right culture, motivate right behaviour and increase productivity.