By Anilesh Kumar
As we unplug the past to adapt to an AI-driven workspace, human resources management needs to wake up to new technology-driven strategies
Have you ever thought about the future of work? Yes, it will be driven by artificial intelligence (AI), I hear you saying. A recent report by IBM states that almost 120 million workers in the world’s 10 largest economies need to be reskilled in the next few years for them to adapt to an AI-driven workplace, or else they will all lose their competitive edge.
The message, therefore, is clear – companies want AI. But, do they have the talent, leadership or confidence in their human resources team to make it happen? It is the chief human resources officer (CHRO) who now needs to wake up to address changing workforce demographics with new strategies.
Training, learning and development have moved from the classroom to intelligent app-based, interactive video content oriented engagements. The focus is on the combination of human perception with AI inputs in HR.
With AI and predictive analytics making ever-greater inroads into the business processes of the modern enterprise, technology is taking on a central role in driving business processes with a clear focus on positive outcomes. One of the most effective areas for the deployment of AI-based technology within an organisation, are human resources (HR) departments.
Losing human resources to employee dissatisfaction adds up to significant inefficiency and drain on resources
Human resource management (HRM) typically is a data and workflow driven function, and many of the traditional HR processes include repetitive tasks that can be quite easily automated based on set rules and patterns. Several areas such as employee self-service, administrative HR tasks, leave management and many other manual HR tasks have already been digitised through HR systems and portals, and now there is an opportunity to bring them closer to employees through intuitive mobile apps and chatbots which can be driven by underlying AI models.
The need of the hour is that HR leaders need to start thinking strategically about their roles and they need to be more data driven to stay relevant for future organisations. There is a need of a culture change for this, where data is used to make decisions about people, maybe like other departments that use data to track finances or manage the supply chain.
While we understand that human contact is a central aspect in the role that HR teams play, the role of AI is not to do away with that but to assist HR professionals in transforming recruitment, skilling and performance evaluation in quite revolutionary ways. Some of the aspects most likely to be positively impacted include:
► Enhancing the hiring and orientation process: Talent sourcing is a key application of AI in HR. AI enhanced HR teams can process and sift through a far greater number of resumes to identify and ‘rate’ talent, prior to the interview process. By automating the process, an organisation not only saves time, but it can also depend on an accurate assessment of metrics such as experience, values, skills and performance, to create a perfect match. Apart from AI, the ability to combine internal HR activities and big data can also play an important role in reaching and evaluating candidates. The ability to integrate Microsoft’s Talent 365 with Linkedin tools is a perfect example of the advantages of using technology in the recruitment process. Post the hiring phase, a targeted and AI enabled onboarding process can help the organisation and the new employee quickly achieve an optimal working relationship. Employee behaviour can also be analysed and understood better using AI modelling during the hiring and onboarding phases of a team member.
► Talent retention and ongoing employee satisfaction: Retention of talent has garnered a lot of deserved attention recently, as one of the key ways in which an HR team can positively impact its organisation. Losing human resources to employee dissatisfaction adds up to a significant inefficiency and drain on resources, especially in the light of the specific skilling and experience that such a loss deprives the organisation of.
AI provides HR departments a means to monitor performance, work-life balance and employee feedback in real time, enabling greater employee focus. Enterprise mobility along with AI has a huge role in driving employee engagement and employees need to be connected to their colleagues and peers through organisational social networks to ensure that there is a sense of belonging, apart from the obvious benefits of collaboration and remote teamwork.
► Enhanced performance management and skilling: Rapid strides in technology are placing the onus on a modern organization, as well as its employees, to remain competitive and relevant. AI enables the operational advantage of being able to optimise skilling to individual employee requirements, with accurate and on-schedule training. Training and skilling have also moved from classrooms to intelligent apps with engagements driven by interactive video content. AI also creates a greater focus on the individual employee, during performance analysis, by enabling the accurate processing of high volumes, and help to identify and reward individual achievements that would have been missed by legacy models. Performance management, in particular, requires use of large, disjoint data sets and AI definitely can bring up insights that connect unparallel employee or organisational data, connecting dots which may have been invisible to appraisers.
► Reducing administrative load with automation and innovations like intelligent chatbots: By replacing human intervention in repetitive processes, AI can allow an HR team to provide more of a ‘human touch’ and free their time to focus on value-adding talent management activities. Ironically, the use of HR chatbots has been found to radically enhance human relationships and increase workforce engagement, while enabling greater integration of human resources across the organisation. Moving from the traditional employee portal to an employee chatbot model ensures better communication and greater engagement.
► Enhanced compliance and dependable processes: Compliant documentation, that protects the rights of employees as well as empowering optimal performance, is a definitive aspect of HR functions.
The ability to deliver these outcomes can often be challenging in the highly data-dense world of Human Resource Management.
AI enables a higher order of employee-specific compliance that reconciles best practices with deeper talent engagement.
In conclusion, as more and more companies are rethinking the role of their human resources department in the context of the impact AI will have on the business, the time is right to address it.