Businesses have long been focused on DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) efforts and, in the past few years, advances have been made to address gender, race, and ethnicity as employers strive…
The world of Human Resources (HR) is rapidly evolving, and at the forefront of this transformation are two game-changing technologies: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation. As we venture deeper into the digital age, HR professionals and hiring managers find themselves on the cusp of a revolution that promises to improve processes, elevate candidate experiences, and unlock the full potential of their workforce.
In this article, we’ll explore the insights of two HR experts, Lorenzo Chiozzi, HR Director at Hikvision UK & Ireland, and Tess Hilson-Greener, CEO of AI Capability Ltd, as they share their experiences and visions for the integration of AI and automation in HR. Alongside this, the article looks at the wider HR function and how areas like talent management, administration and onboarding can be developed and improved by HR teams that are willing to embrace AI and automation.
Enhancing HR Processes through AI
OpenAI, the creators of Chat GPT, published a research paper estimating that “80 percent of jobs can incorporate generative AI technology”. In HR, there is great potential for companies to incorporate AI into performance reviews, talent acquisition, evaluating large pools of candidates, administrative tasks, and other repetitive and data-driven functions. This view is shared by a leading thinker of AI in HR, Josh Bersin, who remarks that much of the data taken by HR is “numerically focused, involving surveys, feedback forms, data” which is then correlated with “business results against various people metrics”. This data-driven approach to HR is one that AI and automation can support, from developing best-practice employee engagement surveys, to evaluating large numbers of CVs against the job requirements and a profile of a desired candidate.
In simple terms, AI frees up HR teams to complete business-critical projects by automating administrative tasks. Lorenzo Chiozzi explains, “In recruitment, you can use predictive analysis, interview scheduling, chatbots and candidate sourcing to boost productivity. Reporting has changed with predictive reporting and automated report generation.” These AI-powered applications allow HR teams to work more efficiently, saving valuable time and resources.
Tess Hilson-Greener agrees, emphasising the diverse applications of AI and automation in HR. “These include talent acquisition and recruitment, employee engagement and performance management, workforce planning and analytics, learning and development, and HR operations and administration”. This showcases the wide range of opportunities that AI presents to HR teams, enabling them to strengthen various aspects of talent management.
Delving deeper, Workable mentions that AI can also help businesses “anticipate and plan for outcomes using predictive analytics and machine learning.” This can be especially useful for small businesses without the resources or expertise to map out detailed HR strategies. Utilising AI can help HR teams understand best practices and case studies, that AI can digest and provide actionable ideas tailored to individual organisations.
Enhancing HR Operations and Administration
AI and automation have instigated a fundamental shift for HR operations and administration, significantly reducing administrative burdens and freeing up valuable time. Lorenzo shares, “I use AI daily in some HR processes, recruitment, and in a variety of different contexts.” Tools like automated applicant tracking systems, chatbots, and virtual assistants streamline candidate interactions and deliver seamless experiences throughout the hiring process.
For those new to AI, Tess recommends starting with “policy management and reporting” and to “use Chat GPT and other AI video/voice solutions.” AI-powered chatbots can answer employees’ frequently asked questions and provide prompt assistance, enhancing employee self-service options and fostering a more efficient HR service delivery.
The efficiency of operational tasks can be improved by using AI, which can help with speeding up the onboarding and acclimatisation process for new employees. An article by Oracle, referencing data compiled from 34,000 exit interviews, notes that “40% of new employees quit within the first year of being hired”. Whilst employees choose to leave their jobs for a multitude of reasons, delays and inefficiencies in the onboarding process can lead to employees feeling overwhelmed at work, unsuited to the role, or struggling to adapt to the company’s culture or way of working.
Utilising AI allows the onboarding process to support employees 24/7.
It can also ease the time-consuming administrative tasks involved. Furthermore, Oracle state that AI can “equip an employee with intelligent suggestions for courses or reading that will aid in day-to-day job duties”, which highlights the value that AI and automation can provide in career development too.
Mitigating Risks and Embracing Opportunities
Microsoft’s 2023 Work Trend Index Annual Report sheds light on employee attitudes towards AI. Whilst 49% of respondents noted that they have concerns about AI replacing their jobs, 70% would be in favour of delegating as much work as possible to AI. HR teams can leverage this curiosity and act as the champions of AI and automation, to upskill employees in its wide-ranging uses.
This view is echoed by Gosia Adamczyk speaking to HR Magazine, who suggests that HR teams should build confidence, “starting with the acceptance that these tools are here to stay”. Companies and HR teams can jump on the AI revolution and develop programmes and initiatives aimed at allowing employees to harness the potential of AI in their work, rather than allowing them to see it as a threat.
These initiatives still need to be developed with a degree of caution, and it’s important to remember that with any technological advancement, AI comes with risks and challenges. “It can be very dangerous if the model is totally trusted, as it can generate manipulation or systematic biases,” cautions Lorenzo. HR teams must ensure transparency, fairness and oversight when using AI algorithms to avoid unintended consequences. Tess adds, “To mitigate risks, organisations should ensure transparency and fairness in AI algorithms, regularly monitor and validate AI outputs, and have appropriate safeguards for data privacy and security.” Embracing opportunities with AI, while being aware of its limitations and risks, is essential to maximising its use within HR.
Ethical Concerns and DEI
As AI and automation continue to play a more significant role in HR, addressing ethical concerns becomes crucial. Tess reminds HR professionals that, “Human oversight and review are important to catch and correct any potential biases or errors.” Ensuring AI algorithms are transparent, fair, and free from bias is paramount in upholding fairness and equality in HR practices.
Incorporating AI into DEI plans ensures that AI-driven decisions align with organisational values and promote a diverse and inclusive workplace.
By investing in AI-qualified consultants and experts, HR teams can mitigate risks and maximise the value of AI and automation in driving positive outcomes for both employees and the company.
Supporting this, Sameer Maskey remarks in a Forbes article that “AI-powered internal survey assessment tools can help HR teams conduct sentiment analysis and deploy data-driven organisation initiatives that focus on employee morale and things today’s workforce considers a priority, such as diversity and sustainability.”
There’s no doubt that AI offers an important, unbiased tool for HR and talent acquisition teams in assessing employee morale and diversity within a company. And for hiring, AI can assess a wide pool of candidates without unconscious bias, not to mention provide a fresh perspective on ideas for employee engagement, for businesses that are ‘set in their ways’.
The Human Touch in HR
While AI improves efficiency, it cannot replace human empathy, creativity, and critical thinking. As Tess explains, “Balancing automation with human interaction and personalised experiences is crucial.” Lorenzo emphasises the importance of strategic implementation, saying, “AI should be implemented strategically, always considering the human factor. AI can make happen what has always been missing in people management – the ability to read information and analytics in a holistic and meaningful way.”
Josh Bersin remarks that AI can pull together data that can be used to make better hiring decisions, and likewise decide “who to promote, who to demote, and who should make it to the very top ranks of the company”. Regarding the internal movement of employees, it’s important not to rely completely on AI to make the decisions, but to use human intuition and the insight of managers working with employees to ensure that balanced decisions can be made regarding an employee’s potential, suitability for a promotion, and other factors.
Likewise, AI is not yet advanced enough to accurately grasp the values, feel or culture of a company, and HR teams are best placed to decide whether benefits or initiatives are working well, rather than simply relying on data and figures to cast judgement. Small initiatives can have a large impact on employee engagement and morale, and soft benefits can be crucial in retaining and attracting talent, that might be overlooked in a hiring strategy based on ‘hard data’.
The Future of HR
Both experts agree that the progression of AI and automation will have a significant impact on the future of HR. Tess predicts that, “There will be new professions, and organisations that manage to crack the AI code for a practical and useful HR approach will prevail.”
The seamless integration of AI and automation will empower HR teams to make data-driven decisions, optimise talent management, and drive employee performance, ultimately ushering in a new era of HR excellence.
As generative AI develops further and becomes widespread in the workforce, new regulations will be developed to ensure that it is safe and beneficial to society. There will be plenty of firsts when it comes to AI, and Jack Aldane, writing for Global Government Forum, mentions that Romania recently “unveiled the world’s first AI government adviser.” The working world will be moulded in the coming years to incorporate AI, and HR teams will be at the forefront of harnessing its capabilities, while upskilling workers to fluidly utilise it, thereby firmly positioning it as an ally rather than a threat to job security.
Conclusion: A Journey of Progress
AI and automation have transformed the landscape of HR, promising to revolutionise talent acquisition, employee development, workforce planning and HR operations.
As HR professionals and hiring managers navigate this transformative journey, they must strike a balance between leveraging AI’s capabilities and preserving the human touch.
Embracing AI strategically, with a keen eye on ethics, transparency and fairness, HR professionals can unlock the true potential of their workforce and create a thriving, future-proof organisation.
As businesses embrace the power of AI and automation, HR’s role will evolve into a pivotal one, overseeing the co-existence of human expertise and machine intelligence in companies. Navigating this path with foresight will pave the way for HR to emerge as a strategic driver of business success, steering businesses towards a future of limitless possibilities. The journey towards HR’s AI-powered future has only just begun, and the possibilities are as exciting as they are limitless.