What does AI mean for HR leaders
HR has been undergoing lasting and rapid digital transformation over the last two decades and today cloud based HR suites reign supreme. A vast array of SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions have filled the gaps the bigger vendors have been too slow to respond to, but they are far from perfect.
Whilst disruptive by their very nature, many of these platforms have focussed on making traditional HR tech more scalable and easier to use. The reality, especially with the ‘new normal’ we’re getting used to, is that the goal posts have shifted. Instead of just a slicker web interface, employees are demanding HR tech that fits with the way they work and communicate, and employers need help to deliver not only a better employee experience but also tangible improvements in employee happiness, well-being and engagement.
Terms like AI, machine learning and even NLP have entered the boardroom vernacular but harnessing these technologies to solve today’s problems at scale still feels like a quantum leap for many.
AI led solutions have opened the door for disruptive start-ups to create new categories of HR tech solutions to empower all parts of the workforce, including those previously left behind like non-desk employees.
Advancements in natural language processing (NLP) – a branch of artificial intelligence – have been transforming the way in which we ask for and access the information and services we need every day as employees.
The success of any organisation is predicated on how effectively it combines people, process and technology intelligently and it is the job of the HR leaders to drive technological change across their organisations (not just CIO’s) – freeing them to focus on their strategic responsibilities.
What this means in practice – an introduction to Conversational AI
Functionally NLP underpins Conversational AI which refers to the use of messaging apps, speech-based assistants and chatbots to automate communication and create personalised experiences at scale. It enables any user with an easier way to ask questions, allowing queries of an organisation’s data whether that be internal or external to be as simple as asking Alexa or a Google Search.
Accessing the right information, at the right time has never been more important given the acceleration to remote working imposed on companies by the COVID 19 pandemic. Employees start their journey from the moment they engage with an organisation through the recruitment process, and right from the get-go it is incumbent on HR teams to equip both their teams and prospective employees with the information they need.
According to Forbes ‘recruiters spend on average 13 hours per week sourcing candidates for one role’ leading to a finite amount of applications they can feasibly review and qualify. Hiring chatbots such as Mya Systems uses a chatbot approach to engage and ‘deeply’ screen applicants via a mobile app which has led to the automation of 400k interviews scheduled with qualified applicants.
From there, AI can be effectively be embedded into a new employees onboarding program, so even before their first day of employment, Conversational AI chatbots can enable prospective employees to ask any questions they may have before joining, complete necessary compliance and onboarding forms, learn more about the organisation and who they’re meeting on their induction week.
Workplace chatbots – enhancing employee experience
Back in 2018 when Ernst & Young rolled out ‘Goldie’ its cognitive chatbot to its 250k employees, ‘Goldie’ answered over 500k questions in 28 days but the investment to build and implement the bot would quite simply have been cost prohibitive to most organisations.
Two years ago however, the landscape was very different. NLP models misfired and developing internal chatbots required months of costly consultancy and training of machine learning models to understand user intents.
Today however, agile and disruptive tech companies such as Leena AI in India, Socarates AI in the US and here at Futr AI in the UK have invested heavily in R&D to build cheap and quick to deploy conversational AI platforms which cross cut verticals and industries, allowing HR leaders to deploy AI at scale across their organisation literally in days opposed to months.
Here at Futr AI we have built and trained our models on a bank of over 5,000 frequently asked questions asked by HR teams, so when it comes to ingesting company specific policies which employees may wish to query conversationally, we can do this at pace and have the scar tissue through years of targeted R&D to build upon.
It’s predicted that by 2021 the global workforce would be dominated by millennials (35%) and generation X (35%), with baby boomers only making up 6%. As the workforce demographics shift, as do their expectations as professionals. Gen Z and millennial workers have spent their lives immersed in an on-demand digital world and the lines between work and home life are increasingly blurred.
Conversational AI is enabling HR teams across the functional groups to enable their employees to self-serve answers to their questions 24/7 and what’s more in the language of their choice.
Employees no longer have to raise a ticket with HR and wait for a response, and furthermore they can access the information they need in an instant directly on their mobiles from Teams, Slack or even WhatsApp.
The efficiency benefits to HR teams are obvious and its crucial scarce resources within the function are protected for driving strategy and tackling the most pressing human issues – not fielding answers to the same FAQs day in day out.
AI-based HR applications can not only vastly improve efficiency both within the department and to its stakeholders, but they also provide a new and deeper insight into what your employees really care about. Rich bot usage data and analytics empower HR leaders to better understand their employees, check the pulse of their organisation and take corrective action ahead of time.
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