AI is an exciting, new, innovative and dynamic field. It has so many applications that it's hard to know where to begin. So let's start with AI in HR.
HR itself is not an exact science. A survey of HR leaders and hiring managers undertaken by IBM revealed that 39% of recent hires would not be rehired by the company.
It's clear that a lot of mistakes are being made, and there's loads of room for hiring processes to improve.
While this may hardly the stuff of science fiction, but there are real reasons to get excited about how your business could use AI in HR.
It's early days yet. We expect that there are lots of applications for AI that aren't currently in use - or even thought of - to come in the near future. But here are some of the ways in which AI in HR could benefit your business.
Dealing with high volumes of applicants
The job market gets more and more competitive each and every year.
This is a nightmare for recruiters and HR professionals. How on earth can you get a good feel of each candidate's abilities from their resumé, when you can only afford to spend a few seconds scanning the page before moving on to the next?
It's a problem that many companies have.
Here's where the strength of AI in HR really lies. A computer system can be built to deal with hundreds of application forms in a much shorter time than people can, cherry-picking the best candidates for further review by your human team.
It can be programmed to look for certain job titles, education requirements or other patterns you're keen on spotting - and whittle down the pile to a more manageable number.
This way, a human can give more time and attention to making the best choices of who to invite in for interview, based on their AI-filtered resumés.
Keeping candidates up to speed
While hiring is ongoing, candidates can be contacted by the AI system to engage them in the recruitment process.
While this might be limited to fairly simple reactions for now - a polite rejection or 'invitation to interview' response, for example - it's always nice for candidates to know what's going on behind the scenes.
And with 58% of job seekers saying that they are less likely to buy from a company who didn't reply after they submitted an application, even a rejection email can be good for business.
As AI develops, perhaps it could even perform live precursor interviews with candidates to help the human team gather more data and make a really well-informed choice.
AI in HR is not biased
As well as zipping through applicants with incredible speed, there's another major advantage of AI being used to draw up a long- or short-list of candidates that humans.
AI doesn't care about a candidate's history in the same way a person might. While it's programmed to look for certain things, it's not biased.
People have unconscious biases, that, despite their best efforts, are really hard to shake off when recruiting.
Research shows that we like to hire people who remind us of ourselves. That's not necessarily a bad thing in terms of being able to get along with new colleagues.
But it means that we might end up with a company lacking in diversity, or pass over a more suitable or qualified candidate without really thinking about it.
One survey shows that 37% of managers who self-identified as coming from a 'top school' said that they prefer to hire candidates from other top schools. Whereas only 6% of managers who didn't attend a top school said the same thing.
We'll probably never completely iron out these biases from the recruitment process because it doesn't seem likely that AI will take over face-to-face interviews.
However, discounting candidates on the strength (or not) of their education is risky. There are plenty of very intelligent, likeable people without an Ivy League degree (or a degree at all) who could be a brilliant fit for the advertised role.
Helping out new hires
Bringing a new person on board within your company can be time-consuming. They'll have a lot of questions, and HR has probably heard them all before - and their answers might be less than helpful if they're busy juggling other tasks too.
What if the newcomer could ask an expert-built AI system about key policies and even be brought up to speed on ongoing projects they'll be involved in?
This may lack the 'human touch' in some people's eyes, and in reality should be used in conjunction with the support of a solid HR team. But even in partnership with HR, the AI could save a whole lot of time for people throughout your business.
AI in HR for new hires may be best used as a 'reminder' system. People joining have so much to take on board that they forget around 50% of the information presented within just one hour. And after 24 hours, that figure rises to 90%.
Instead of bugging HR for information about things they've simply forgotten about, an AI system can provide your employees with the answers they're after.
This will be equally helpful for existing staff who need to find out the answers to rote questions about things like healthcare benefits or external policies.
The system can be humanized too - presenting the AI as a chat system gives staff an 'easy access' solution similar to one they're probably used to using in their personal lives.
Training old hands
HR often have an idea of the type of training which is necessary or desirable to enhance the workforce. Picking out suitable courses is more complicated. And some employees will be more knowledgeable than others and may resent sitting through a 'back-to-basics' training session.
In the same way that it whips through a list of candidates, AI in HR could trawl the internet (or a database) for potential training solutions and output a list of suitable options.
More than this, AI can respond to an individual user's needs as it realizes what kind of training and information they're seeking.
So if a member of staff needs to get to grips with, for example, new software or a new compliance initiative, AI could help by serving them up the right information at the right time.
Sorting out the meetings schedule
Putting together meetings in our day-to-day lives is a real drag. Between emails and phone calls, we finally manage to hash out a time that works for all ten attendees...
And then - inevitably - a key stakeholder drops out due to another, more pressing, matter and all the timings have to be figured out all over again.
Instead of wasting time organizing this, AI in HR can be used to pick out times where everyone has space in their calendars and book a meeting room.
If you have catering in your building, it could even react to the time of day and book in refreshments such as coffees, teas or even lunch for those attending.
This is far from the only admin task that a computer could soon take over...
Informing the performance review period
AI in HR can manage huge amounts of data about employees, such as their time sheets, line manager feedback on reports, their LinkedIn connections, and so on.
All of this data, and much more, can be used to help HR tell senior management about who has been performing well, who is under performing, and who needs a hand.
This can be used during the performance review period to address concerns and reward hard workers.
Meanwhile, it's often hard to spot when someone is thinking of leaving. Although HR professionals might be able to spot the more obvious signs, in a very large firm there's not a lot of chance of picking out the unhappy employees from the crowd.
AI can be used to alert HR to behavioral patterns that might indicate someone is not content - and also to check out their LinkedIn connections to see if they've recently been connecting with recruiters or HR bods at other firms.
There are some potential ethical issues here - some companies may feel that it's unethical to delve deep into a person's LinkedIn connections list, for example.
On the other hand, there might be someone you consider very valuable and wouldn't like them to leave. Being given a heads up to the risk means you might be able to act fast and coax them to stay.
What the future holds
AI is an emerging field. This means that the AI we've seen in use over the past few years is only the very tip of the iceberg.
As with all technologies, we'll only learn more as time goes on.
If you'd like to learn more about how AI in HR could dramatically alter your business today, get in touch for a consultation.