Like many workplace disciplines, there’s no doubt the Human Resources landscape is shifting under the influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI). At ECI’s recent People Forum, we were joined by Felix Mitchell, founder and CEO of Instant Impact, and Simon Witkiss, Chief Product Officer at Ciphr, to discuss the ways AI will impact HR (and the ways it won’t).
Three areas where AI will impact HR teams
1. Chat with your HR tech
It’s becoming increasingly likely that Human Capital Management (HCM) platforms will integrate chat functionality, reducing the reliance on HR professionals to find and communicate material such as training guides, manuals and policy documents themselves. An integration that allows employees to self-serve payroll issues, guide employees through evaluations or access mental health support through confidential online sessions, will undoubtedly improve operational efficiency. By spending less time on administrative tasks, HR professionals will be able to focus on analysis and more strategic issues such as planning team availability or identifying skills gaps and training requirements.
2. Learning and development
A fair proportion of HR effort is expended on producing content – guides, handbooks, policies, and learning & development material. AI can take your team’s existing knowledge and very quickly and cost-effectively generate engaging content, from animated videos to comprehensive learning manuals. As well as that, AI can also be effective in defining learning pathways based on an individuals performance review or career progression goals. But remember, as Simon wisely cautions: “AI is a tool, and the quality of its output hinges on the quality of the data it’s trained on”. Without adequate coaching on the AI tools used, HR teams can often spend as much time editing content as they had creating it, so understanding how to get the best out of AI software will be important.
3. Recruitment process
Many sectors are currently experiencing a talent shortage and businesses are finding themselves competing with large corporates with even larger pockets, so ensuring your recruitment process is as streamlined and efficient as possible is becoming business-critical. Adopting AI tools in your hiring process to identify keywords and analyse skill sets, actively search online platforms and professional networks, or analysing past hiring data, will drive insights to create a more informed hiring process. This becomes critical if data is spread across disparate systems ensuring candidates don’t fall through any gaps from first submission to their first review.
And three areas where it likely won’t
1. Fair & ethical practices
While AI is already delivering tremendous advantages, organisations need to act cautiously when it comes to sensitive areas like recruitment and talent evaluation where algorithmic bias is a real threat and ethical minefield. While AI can augment auto-sifting of CVs to help eliminate unconscious bias, using it to select potential candidates without human intervention can make it difficult to provide transparency on why a candidate is classified in a particular way. As Simon emphasised, “AI will do what you tell it. It’s crucial to choose the right tools and implement stringent checks to ensure your AI is upholding fair and ethical practice. Transparency and interpretability are key, and a likely tenet of future legislation, so you need to understand why your AI is making certain decisions and be able to explain criteria / scoring to rejected candidates.”
2. Employee churn or sickness predictions
While AI certainly has the capability to predict employee churn or long-term sickness, the fairness and non-discrimination elements of the expected AI safety legislation are likely to prevent and crack down on exactly this type of usage. This is due to algorithms’ potential to perpetuate biases in data which could potentially and unfairly penalise people, and may discriminate against those with long-term health problems.
3. People engagement
HR leaders tend to be people people and they shouldn’t be concerned that AI is going to mean less human contact and increased digital interactions. In fact with careful planning, the opposite should be true. Using AI to perform mundane and monotonous tasks will free up valuable time, enabling greater focus on strategic and value-added initiatives. In reality, this means spending more face-to-face with teams, with richer data facilitating greater insight, and subsequently more informed decisions.