Artificial Intelligence in HR

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You can’t hide away from it: everywhere you turn Artificial Intelligence (AI) is embraced by industries and companies. Even the least anticipated sectors are taking advantage from the benefits of AI as, for example, in the music industry classical albums are being fully composed by computers, or in the news production sector where computer programs are collecting and personalizing sport related results, recaps and events to avid fans.

Artificial Intellingence is also shaping functions within HR such as recruitment, training & development or compensation & benefits. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that by today Artificial Intellingence has become one of the main driving forces in lifting the burden off from the shoulders of HR, and there are two general directions towards which these developments are taking us. First: What is the best way of using the information gained from AI programs? And Second: What HR should do with its freed up time and resources thanks to AI? Is it really time for HR to take its well deserved place in the Board Rooms of companies and become a strategic partner, a role foretold years ago by HR thought leaders? Easy questions, but with no simple answers.

What we observe is that, to go along with the above developments, HR professionals must be on top of their games, while they do not certainly possess the necessary skills to take full advantage of AI softwares. To balance this situation here we propose, through the next five points, the ultimate skillset for HR professionals for them to be able to capitalize on the opportunities Artificial Intellingence presents.

1. The ability to be and stay employee focused

Even though its day-to-day duties and tasks are becoming compelled by data and computerized by artificial intelligence, the one task that most likely will never disappear from the horizon of HR is the humanization of the work environment. From our experience we observe that HR managers still prefer to have a face to face conversation with another person when it is about interviewing, hiring, or daily people management, though, this practice, in the constant noise around digital HR and HR Technology, has to keep striving for its place.

What’s more, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs publication the demand for complex problem solving will increase by 40% by 2020. The report highlights that social skills, such as persuasion, emotional intelligence or teaching others, will be in higher demand across industries.

You can be sure about one more thing as well. The number of predictions and foresights about how to become an employee-centered organisation will continue to grow and it might seem a daunting task for you to read every piece of advice from these recommendations and translate them to your specific position. What we grasp from these publications is the need for HR to continue to hone its employee-focused skillset and put more emphasis on, for instance, critical thinking or creativity.

HR needs to hone its employee-focused skillset and put more emphasis on, for instance, critical thinking or creativity. Click To Tweet

2. The ability to reskill employees effectively and timely

The ability to facilitate the levelling up of the skills of employees is becoming imperative along with automation. In addition to the establishment of strong people focused skillsets HR professionals will need to guide employees through certain reskilling processes. This could only be done effectively if HR takes the lead in the reskilling conversation and reverse engineers the skill demand companies will be needing in 5 to 10 years time. Like many things in learning this could take time and be a painful exercise but in order for any organisation to be successful in the future this process is mission critical.

Maybe you haven’t observed this trend yet, but it is all around us. Take for instance the airport industry. Have you recognised that in bigger airports you can already do almost everything for yourself including checking in and taking care of your luggages? In conjunction with automation airport companies are investing considerable amount of money in reskilling their staff. Airline check-in agents are trained into roving assistants whose role is to help passengers checking in and learning the use of automatic check-in kiosks and baggage drop-offs.

The reskilling process for new roles require common sense, prioritization, judgement and flexibility. Reskilling programs must be personalized, high-tech, timely and relevant. There is no significance if a well-crafted job is not waiting for a pulled-out employee after his or her reskilling process ended.

Reskilling programs must be personalized, high-tech, timely and relevant. Click To Tweet

3. The ability to interpret, and correctly use, data

No doubt about that: Today’s offices are turning into data-driven, in some cases data-obsessed, places where the ability to collect, analyze and translate data is indispensable. Obviously, you don’t need to train yourself into an HR data analytics expert and even the basics of this entirely different profession can be picked up. AI-powered chatbots like Apple’s SIRI, IBM’s Watson or Amazon’s Alexa are all handy products that are designed to provide the most enjoyable and informative user (data) experience for its owners.

Although, in case of bigger data analysis is needed we propose to you to turn to professionals who could help you out with a more scientific approach. It is also essential to choose the right data to support AI softwares to cope with actual problems and situations. For instance, a business which inputs all its historical data on low performers into an algorithm could bolster bias in its hiring if most of those under performers were women.

It is also essential to choose the right data to support AI softwares to cope with actual problems and situations. Click To Tweet

4. The ability to turn data into a Best Seller at your company

Commonly known and it shouldn’t surprise anyone from an HR department HR has always been a data driven unit that relied on metrics and forecast. Even the ancient Chinese armies depended on people management calculations, not to mention the Italian renaissance historian, Machiavelli, who advised his emperor on effective resource management, including people analytics.

Even the ancient Chinese armies depended on people management calculations, not to mention the Italian renaissance historian, Machiavelli, who advised his emperor on effective resource management, including people analytics. Click To Tweet

In consequence, it should not be a novelty for HR to work with and handle data. Though it faces a totally new challenge in terms of translating the increased amount of information into valuable, relevant and consistent content.

There is more than one way to proceed on this one. A general rule of thumb is that in putting together content, in the form of presentations, news articles or internal newsletters, try to focus on the benefits of integrating AI into the daily work of HR, explain the whys, and put forward proposals on what will be the solution for possible patterns based on analysis. To demonstrate this point we would like to invite you to check out a brilliant and recent example about Unilever’s hiring experience, which uses brain games and artificial intelligence.

5. The ability to prioritize

Whatever data or the most recent studies tell you, one thing is certain: In working with Artificial Intellingence and in gaining detailed intelligence, you’ll need to prioritize between new and old, between speed and conformity, between daily and strategic, between data-driven and data-informed, between the human factor and automation.

The way forward for AI in HR

Many articles claim that the major benefit of Artificial Intellingence is its ability to free up HR’s time so it could put its eggs into other baskets as well, namely in the strategic planning and orientation of the company. As this paradigm is usually advocated by HR thought-leaders and self-proclaimed experts, we would like to learn how HR managers think about this assumption.

Is AI really going to free up time from HR’s busy schedule or is it just a dream swiftly evaporating in the paradigm of choice and in the technology that changes by the wind? Click To Tweet

We suspect, based on conversations we had at the 2017 Zukunft Personal and our experience working with HR managers, that the time liberated by artificial intelligence and automation in HR is most likely going to be consumed up by extra activities coupled with Artificial Intellingence itself. The following question arises: Is artificial intelligence really going to free up time from HR’s busy schedule or is it just a dream swiftly evaporating in the paradigm of choice and in the technology that changes by the wind?

Do you have an opinion on this? We would like to hear from you! Drop a comment and let us know!

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