What Does Artificial Intelligence AI Mean for HR? - EmployeeConnect HRIS
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What Does Artificial Intelligence Mean for HR?

What Does Artificial Intelligence AI Mean for HR?

Artificial intelligence (AI), has been the focus of thousands of technological developments for decades as mankind attempts to engineer increasingly sophisticated tools that can think, plan and adapt in ways that mimic the human brain. However, AI typically performs these processes at exponentially faster speeds than brains can manage without making computational errors or growing fatigued or bored. Machines driven by artificial intelligence offer benefits for every type of industry, and HR departments benefit especially from AI and its even-tempered analysis, freedom of cultural prejudice and ability to collate vast bodies of data from disparate sources.

Writers of speculative fiction have explored utopian and dystopian themes for centuries, many of which feature artificial intelligence as a utopian blessing or a dystopian nightmare… #skynet.  The truth falls somewhere in the middle as population, technology and ever-increasing data become unmanageable without some kind of AI capabilities. Despite advances, machines are still a long way from taking over the world. Machines still depend on people making value decisions and moral judgements, and HR departments find that artificial intelligence can assist managers in making wise, impactful decisions about any company’s greatest resource – its staff.

The future is now, and whether the prospect of AI in HR seems utopian or dystopian to you, it’s a reality that must be faced. More than $300 million was invested in 2014 in AI start-up companies, which was an astounding 300 percent increase from the previous year. Gartner research also predicts that AI types of programs will proactively seek support services by 2018 and that 40 percent of mobile interactions will depend on smart agents by 2020. Special, high-profile conferences of professionals now gather at annual symposiums to present papers and workshops on AI.

HR is a critical element of integrating artificial intelligence into company operations because executives are learning that the paradigm shift to agile development approaches and continuous innovation depends on HR people management skills. Although AI can speed and automate data collection, make preliminary observations, classify HR issues and segregate customer and employee profiles, final decisions and corrective actions must be approved by qualified people who understand how to use AI tools.

What is AI?

Already, self-driving cars, smart roads, intuitive personal assistants like Siri and Cortana and other signs of artificial intelligence are becoming realities. AI technology connects people to machines and machines to other machines. Intelligent machines can do repetitive calculations, trigger automatic processes and monitor benchmarks such as staff performance and quality control. A 2013 Oxford study predicted that 47 percent of repetitive jobs would be handled exclusively by machines over the next two decades. Intelligence takes many forms, but it can be defined as the ability to compute how to achieve goals. Humans, animals and machines can achieve varying levels of intelligence, but artificial intelligence can compute predefined scenarios faster and more accurately than any person without the fatigue and boredom of repetitive work.

Types of AI

Artificial intelligence comes in narrow and strong levels, but most AI systems can be classified in three categories: voice recognition, bots and algorithms. There are actually many kinds of artificial intelligence that can range from calculating auto immune system performance to automating physical systems, but the three major areas that concern HR are voice recognition, robot automation and algorithms. Most research suggests that there is little to fear from intelligent AI systems developing human traits like love, hate, greed and ambition because these are human emotions. Narrow-based AI functions are ideal for compiling data in HR systems such as verifying information, researching specific areas and solving other task-specific problems.

Voice Recognition

This type of AI can convert text into words and vice versa, search Internet sites, videos, podcasts and broadcasts for key phrases and subjects and deliver the information automatically to other analytic programs and on-demand in the preferred format of speech or text. Your AI personal assistants usually employ this technology. The primary function of voice recognition, however, is to trigger actions based on voice commands, such as opening a file, website or program, adjusting environmental controls, controlling household and office devices and other simple command functions.

Bots Are Great

The major search engines employ bots to search the Internet for keyword phrases. The usefulness of bots extends to learning, chatting, asking questions, giving directions, recalculating routes and other useful functions. Car navigation systems typically use these artificial intelligence systems. Current AI systems can learn, but they have a long way to go before they can solve complex logic problems. Even the simplest decision involves thousands of variables, but consider how often you look for a single dataset in a database. AI can accelerate finishing repetitive searching tasks exponentially.

AI Algorithms

AI algorithms are step-by-step instructions that guide AI functions. Sophisticated algorithms can be set to automate many HR functions such as gathering business intelligence, disseminating information to the right stakeholders, monitoring key performance benchmarks and tracking outside interests and social media activity of employees and recruitment prospects.

Benefits of Artificial Intelligence for HR

No sector has more complex data management and analytical needs than HR. AI technology can enhance any department’s ability to gather and process data and make preliminary forecasts based on changing conditions. It would take weeks to gather and analyse the same quantity of data manually that AI processes can accomplish in seconds. In today’s fast-moving business environment, speed is critical for the following reasons:

  • Empowering faster decisions at the right times to generate business opportunities
  • Getting accurate information quickly
  • Facilitating pattern recognition to spot trends
  • Accelerating all company processes
  • Learning from past mistakes and successes


AI driven HRIS

Data collection is critical for HR, and AI software can automate complex tasks such as gathering information from multiple contact points, segregating employees and HR problems into profiles and training teams to use data to the fullest potential. The HR benefits of artificial intelligence include:

  • Empowering virtual assistants through data collection and distribution
  • Increasing employee skills for maximum efficiency in assignments requiring cross-training abilities
  • Organising statistics based on different stakeholder needs
  • Managing workflows through automation, regulation and conditional situations


Bring Business Rules to Life Through AI

AI algorithms can be regularly changed and updated as HR departments narrowly focus on their ideal recruitment and people management strategies. The algorithms, or formulas, search for conditional parameters that human programmers set, which can be personalised based on the type of job, work environment, hours, competition and other business-related factors. For example, providing the right content to employment prospects is critical for grabbing their attention given today’s limited attention spans and sensory overload of marketing messages.

HR hiring managers can become company strategists and coaches while AI handles routine tasks in seconds that used to take managers hours to perform. For example, am HR recruitment manager might need to research a prospect’s salary history, performance ranking, recent job offers and other criteria such as whether the company can offer a competitive compensation package. AI can collate this information in seconds. A supervisor with AI skills can sign off on job offers faster and forward them to the next level in the decision-making process.

Coaching Success

AI programs offer HR departments ways to train their staffs, earn certifications, cross-train and learn new skills. An intuitive AI program allows people to work at their own speeds, but a really great program can encourage faster development by introducing rewards and incentives based on each worker’s profile. People who are struggling with a skill or concept can be referred to outside resources or a human mentor.

Prospects of Machine Learning

This is one of the most exciting areas of AI development for HR. Artificial intelligence that can learn and grow offers tremendous potential for developing new people management strategies and proactively anticipating business goals. Artificial intelligence can handle many of your employees’ routine requests about the organisation’s policies and benefits, but a learning AI could recommend training programs and external events that would interest an employee for better holistic management.

Risks of AI in HR

Technology always carries some risks of marginalising some repetitive jobs, but as people advance in their digital skills, these jobs become less attractive. Most AI applications perform relatively narrow tasks, but they do them fast and flawlessly. Most people won’t go back to inferior ways of accomplishing their goals. For example, Google changed the way that search engines worked by progressively focusing on the semantic meanings of keywords instead of just finding websites that mention a particular phrase. Nobody wants to go back to the early days of the Internet when searches were extremely frustrating. Narrow AI and strong AI carry different risk levels. A fully functional, recursively learning AI, or AGI, could perform an incredible array of tasks that might leave human intelligence behind. Some people might fail to adapt to AI and technology, but that’s always been true. You can always protect yourself by adapting to technology and AI.

Other risks of AI include systems that are designed to understand the nuances of human speech, idioms and even humour going terribly wrong. In HR management, signals could be misinterpreted. That’s why human monitoring and control are essential in HR. Other risks include artificial intelligence devices and systems that aren’t smart enough – those that inadvertently reveal protected personal information. HR managers must be ever vigilant that AI systems don’t compromise security.

In HRM, machine intelligence offers many benefits that include never allowing personal views to affect management decisions. AI systems might outperform their human counterparts in some areas, but mastering the right leadership, programming and monitoring skills should always stand you in a strong position regardless of technology changes. Creativity, empathy, teamwork and the ability to work with AI systems promise to future-proof your essential role in HR or any field.

Evolutionary Drive to Survive – Why You Need to Adapt

Adapting to new technology, trends and tools is just a part of what it takes to survive in today’s digital jungle.’ Evolution has always favoured survival of the fittest. Today, you need to adapt as quickly as possible because HR systems are becoming increasingly sentient. So far, there are no moral or legal restrictions involved with dealing with AI except for damaging company property. Imagine being sued by your car for gross negligence in a fender bender or facing disciplinary action for demonstrating cultural insensitivity to a workplace AI. Should AI engineering achieve true sentience, artificial intelligence could gain rights that would astonish some and delight advocates who consider their personal assistants and AI devices as real friends.

Some AI critics worry about issues such as developing leadership skills if too many professional tasks are handled by artificial intelligence. However, digital processes are transforming everything and generating new skills, jobs and products. There will always be a need for innovation, new skills and agile productivity. AI can increase educational resources so that workers can gain those skills quickly and inexpensively to advance their careers.

Ari Kopoulos

CEO at EmployeeConnect