Will 2019 be the year HR fully adopts AI?

9 Jan 2019 By Ian Jones

Ian Jones explains why there’s no time like the present for HR to embrace artificial intelligence

The adoption of AI across all industries – not just HR – is approaching a watershed moment. After a period of discovery and general scepticism about the benefits of the technology, many business leaders now understand that its use increasingly makes both organisational and financial sense.

AI has the power to improve HR processes at every stage – from recruitment through to employee wellbeing and retention. Here are five ways in which the technology is having a positive effect:

Better forward planning for resource

AI can be a powerful asset when it comes to planning the future. It can help identify trends and opportunities for business leaders that can, in turn, inform the skills, training and recruitment programmes that will be needed going forward. For example, our current work with SkillsFuture Singapore, the agency tasked with planning Singapore’s future skills and capability requirements, is showcasing how AI can quantify current and likely future drivers of change within key sectors. This is informing the future demand for skills and likely timescales within which new roles will be created. It is enabling macro-level planning to happen in a way that has not previously been possible.

Achieve a truly unbiased recruitment process

Ensuring equal opportunities within the workplace is a hugely emotive and important topic. AI is a technology that can truly address the issue of removing bias at every stage – whether that is recruitment, remuneration or promotions. Profiling and validation of prospective candidates for open roles is just one way that it is helping to making selection processes more effective.

Enhance the way we work

Rather than replacing humans, AI is enhancing and elevating the way we work. By processing large amounts of gathered data, it can undertake repetitive admin tasks, freeing up skilled workers to carry out more complex, value-added activities that require delicacy, interaction and the application of human interaction and judgement.

AI is an enabler, creating a workplace that is more effective, productive, and rewarding for employees. 

Improve wellbeing in the workplace

Workers are under more strain today than at any time, often swamped with a wealth of data to wade through. NHS Digital reported a 10 per cent rise in stress-related disorders between 2016-17 and 2017-18. AI could be one asset to help alleviate this worryingly common feature of the modern workplace. Advanced AI algorithms gather, curate and summarise vast quantities of complex, unstructured data to relieve pressure on time constraints and empower end users. They can monitor and highlight employees’ emotions and stress levels to help develop better approaches to resourcing, training and staff welfare.

The use of AI in call centres is helping provide feedback to staff. It can track employees’ emotions and identify whether they are feeling anxious or tired when on a phone call to customers. As a result, AI-powered tools can recommend that a worker should take a break when their performance may be affected.

Demonstrate the value of the human-powered workforce

Within HR, the social and empathetic aspects of traditional roles will require human input for the foreseeable future. It is unlikely that AI will ever replace humans completely. For recruitment, particularly at C-suite level, face-to-face contact and human interaction will always be a requirement.

In 2019, we will see AI change the workplace for the better, helping to upskill and empower rather than replace employees. For HR professionals, we are entering an exciting new age of understanding of big data that will feed into employee wellbeing strategies, saving money and driving up productivity.

As the wider business industry embraces AI, it is time for HR to do the same.

Ian Jones is chief strategy officer at AMPLYFI

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