Artificial intelligence is perhaps the most rapidly ascending technology of our current age. In most parts of the workforce, and indeed life itself, humans are interacting with an evolving complement of programming designed to aid and inform. One of the areas most affected by this emerging trend is the human resources department. The responsibilities of HR have always been a combination of mundane administrative work and sensitive human judgement. It’s this hybrid nature that makes HR an excellent testing ground for the capabilities and limitations of artificial intelligence.
Uses of Artificial Intelligence in Human Resources
One of the core functions of the human resources department is employee recruitment. Anybody who has sought a new job in recent years knows that many aspects of the process – the listing, the application, even the onboarding of successful candidates – have been digitized. Traditionally recruitment has meant large volumes of mundane work for human resources departments. Sifting through piles of applications, cross checking qualifications vs. requirements, verifying the accuracy of the applicants’ claims; all are time intensive exercises.
According to Dr. Tirath Virdee, Director of Artificial Intelligence, Capital Plc, blockchain technology will streamline the entire process. “The possible uses of blockchain include: verifying and validating the skills and education of recruits; enabling a trusted record of upskilling and workplace performance, enhancing cyberspace and fraud prevention; and managing secure and instant payments to employees,” says Dr. Virdee.1
Blockchain technology and its game changing ability to collect and store information will make possible the collection of a lifetime ‘digital identity’, containing each of our personal ‘curriculum vitae’, or life’s work. It’s easy to see how this will save time for the HR department, allowing focus to be placed on other tasks.
As Forbes contributor Jeanne Meister explains, “Recruiters no longer need to spend hours to screen thousands of applicants, freeing them up to perform higher-value work such as sourcing, recruitment marketing, engaging with candidates, and hiring managers.”2
The usage of technology in HR doesn’t end there. Chatbots are providing answers to employee queries regarding process and policy. A host of digital platforms have transformed the way that team members communicate. Virtual reality and gamification (insert link) are increasingly utilized for training and other purposes. With possibilities expanding daily, the only thing certain is change.
Are Machines Smarter Than Humans?
Humans employ our judgement skills each day and human resource professionals are no exception. Decisions regarding hiring, training and performance evaluation are daily responsibilities. Mankind is famous for our ability to ‘trust our gut’ or ‘remember a time when…’. Body language, premonitions, hunches; they all play a part in our decision-making process. Do these conscious and subconscious factors deserve the trust we place in them? AI, conversely, makes decisions based on mountains of cold, hard data. While some would say AI lacks ‘instinct’, others would say it’s free from bias.
“Analytics also allow recruiters to assess potential employees based on real information,” says TalentCulture CEO Meghan M. Biro. “By basing hiring decisions on facts instead of hunches, they can improve the quality and placement of new hires.”3
Pitfalls of AI in HR
With all of the benefits that artificial intelligence and other technologies bring to the HR department, is there any reason not to charge full speed ahead? Some believe that good old common sense is still an important ingredient.
“It’s easy to become so preoccupied by consuming technology that we forget to look up from the screen and connect with the individuals we’re looking to influence,” cautions Forbes Councils Member Michelle McMahon.4
As she explains, evaluation systems are one example of a technology ripe for exploitation.
“Depending too heavily on these insights to track your workforce often results in employees working to game the system to appear productive, versus addressing underlying issues or making real, substantive advances.”4
There are other cautions that we should take when placing heavy reliance upon technology. Details can be lost when translating messages through lengthy emails or poorly understood messaging systems. Technical issues can result in privacy breaches and costly downtime. Personal relationships can weaken and employee engagement can suffer.
“Executive decisions are increasingly made on the data showing up in the dazzling displays of HR dashboards without considering the human story,” warns Murad Salman Mirza of Tint.com. “As a result, the career progression of promising talent is susceptible to stagnation based upon a tired or vengeful, pressured or hurried supervisor’s web-based performance appraisal form.”5
As technological advancement is continuous, so too must be our efforts to use it effectively and wisely. Listening to and interacting with employees has always been a part of HR and must remain so. Human resource departments must utilize available technologies while striving to remember that the ‘H’ stands for human. Only through this balance will we optimize all our resources.
1 Review, CIO. “AI and Blockchain in Human Resources.” CIOReview. Accessed July 24, 2019. https://artificial-intelligence.cioreview.com/cxoinsight/ai-and-blockchain-in-human-resources-nid-29501-cid-175.html.
2 Meister, Jeanne. “Ten HR Trends In The Age Of Artificial Intelligence.” Forbes. January 09, 2019. Accessed July 24, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2019/01/08/ten-hr-trends-in-the-age-of-artificial-intelligence/5/#3d8a5b0be459.
3 Biro, Meghan M., and Meghan M. Biro. “The Impact of Technology on HR and What’s Ahead.” HuffPost. December 07, 2017. Accessed July 24, 2019. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-impact-of-technology_b_9294208?guccounter=1.
4 McMahon, Michelle. “The HR Balancing Act: Tech Insights Versus Human Intuition.” Forbes. July 23, 2019. Accessed July 24, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2019/07/23/the-hr-balancing-act-tech-insights-versus-human-intuition/2/#424c14ab3f17.
5 Mirza, Murad Salman. “Is Technology Taking the ‘Human’ Out Of Human Resources?” TLNT. August 27, 2016. Accessed July 24, 2019. https://www.tlnt.com/is-technology-taking-the-human-out-of-human-resources/.