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How to use AI to balance technology with the human connection

17 min read
Human resources is one industry that’s experiencing huge change with the expansion of cognitive computing - artificial intelligence, machine learning and generative AI. Here’s how this technology can support your HR team with your recruitment and administrative tasks.


Written by: Ruth D’Alessandro
Fact Checked by: Laura Harding

Artificial intelligence in human resources management is defined as technology that can think like a human when dealing with the day-to-day workings of an HR department. It can help HR teams streamline recruitment processes, improve efficiency, and enhance employee experience.

In this article, we will explore how AI is transforming HR functions for managers, coaching and learning and development programs, and candidate experience. You’ll find out how AI is making business more human using mined data.

The astonishing pace and capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) in the past few years means that it’s now possible for HR leaders and hiring managers to get more out of employee experience data than ever before.

With the help of AI they can:

  • streamline work processes
  • reduce biases
  • enhance data analysis
  • enrich employee data with context
  • even understand the sentiments behind what their employees are saying

Generative AI and its possibilities have caused a huge buzz in the human resource management world. Organizations can now train AI tools on HR data to the extent that AI coaches can supply tailored recommendations to managers, and performance and development tips to employees.

Exciting and astounding as this is, there are ethical considerations, and not a little worry. Gitnux finds that AI is estimated to replace 85 million jobs by 2025, but 97 million new jobs will be created due to AI.

Employees naturally ask, will AI put me out of a job? Will it make me more efficient or less efficient? What would I do then?

What’s important here is to put the ‘human’ into human resources and put people first, ahead of the robots. AI isn’t here to take people’s jobs away – it’s here to empower them, to free them up from mundane, soul-sucking tasks and let them innovate and create instead.

What is artificial intelligence in HR?

Artificial intelligence in human resources management is defined as technology that can think like a human when dealing with the day-to-day workings of an HR department.

First, some definitions so you can appreciate the power and potential of AI technology that your HR teams can harness:

1. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems.

2. Machine learning

Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence that enables algorithms in computer systems to access data, learn from experience, and develop themselves without being externally programmed by a human.

3. Generative AI

Generative AI is a branch of artificial intelligence that can create novel and realistic content, such as text, images, speech, music, and even code, using existing data and patterns. It uses various techniques to learn from available data and generate new things.

Learn how to automate HR data to work for your business needs

What is the impact of AI in HR?

HR professionals used to be drowning in a sea of paper CVs, spreadsheets of interviewees,  interview notes, employment contracts, training programs and disciplinary procedures. They would spend hours interviewing long lists and shortlists of candidates, who may or may not turn out to be ideal for the job.

All these processes, performed by HR managers and their teams, were immensely costly in terms of time and money.

Now, AI in HR can:

  • Stop attrition in its tracks: by identifying behaviors that suggest an employee may about to quit, so that managers can intervene and try to retain them
  • Personalize employee experience: to put workers through the right training programs and onto the best career paths throughout their entire employee lifecycle
  • Enhance employee engagement with feedback: using employee listening
  • Pick up anomalies: leveraging AI to identify blips and unusual events in data, and step in with real time responses to avoid problems and implement solutions
  • Deploy chatbots: through the magic of natural language processing (NLP), chatbots can help automate HR service delivery
  • Increase communication efficiency and time: AI is great at helping formulate communications and articulate messages, which can help save HR quite a bit of copywriting time.
  • Resolve issues with conversational analytics: machine learning has become so sophisticated that AI can recognize and respond to the human voice, enabling problem resolution in real time

benefits of ai in hr

AI for HR managers

Artificial intelligence in HR can take away the time-consuming tasks in the hiring process, such as filtering applicants’ skill sets, qualifications, competencies, experience and cultural fit, to ensure best fit for vacant roles.

AI can automatically schedule interviews, screen resumes without bias, identify the best candidates, search job boards to find new talent, capture key metrics from exit interviews to show you where to improve, and even deliver personalized communications to every candidate.

AI can then assist in new hires’ onboarding process by settling them in with personalized emails, necessary paperwork, scheduling meetings and even pairing them with the most suitable work buddy to help them learn the ropes.

AI for coaching

Coaching employees is where HR technology AI systems really come into play: each individual employee has their own feedback loop so they can interact with HR practitioners, and managers to learn and improve.

And even managers will have their own personal AI coaches to help them understand their engagement scores better. Tools such as our Manager Assist have embedded AI that acts as their own personal coach to help dig out deeper insights and understand dashboard results. Managers can even ask their AI coach natural language questions such as, ‘Is my Intent To Stay score a good one?’ and ‘Why has my Work Life Balance score dropped?’ – and receive insightful answers.

Nobody phrases it this way, but I think that artificial intelligence is almost a humanities discipline. It’s really an attempt to understand human intelligence and human cognition.
— Sebastian Thrun, Adjunct Professor, Stanford University

Artificial HR intelligence in recruiting

According to Zippia, the costs of a bad hire can be incredibly expensive for a company:

  • 30% of the new hire’s annual salary
  • An average of $14,900 loss
  • As much as $240.000 loss
  • $4,425 to recruit a replacement
  • At least six months to break even on the cost of new hires

Traditional recruitment is also time consuming, with long waiting times on approvals, screenings, interviews and decisions. The interview process itself has become predictable, generic, and full of bias – things that are no longer acceptable in today’s data-driven business world.

Using AI to improve talent acquisition will enhance your ability to select the right people at just the right time, and avoid costly hiring mistakes.

Ways that AI adds value to your HR department include:

Identifying vacancies

Even before you write a job description, AI can be at work processing and predicting talent and skills gaps within a company: who is going to leave, which department is expanding, and how many new hires will be required. HR can then focus on the more important tasks of sourcing and hiring.

Sourcing and screening suitable candidates

AI can help match suitably skilled and experienced candidates with job requirements by scanning resumes and matching them to job descriptions.

It can do this with natural language processing (NLP) that matches keywords in resumes with job descriptions, automatically eliminating unsuitable candidates. HR managers can then concentrate on finding not just qualified employees, but the best employees.

In the same way, HR professionals can alert people who have the right qualifications and skill sets that a vacancy is coming up, and invite them to apply.

Interviewing

The use of AI-powered digital assistants puts the candidate more in control of the interviewing process, and ensures great communication between company and candidate. They can schedule meetings, be sent reminders, interact with the company, and provide resources or portfolios ahead of interviews.

After an interview, candidates can provide survey feedback to help the human resources department make their hiring process better.

Selection and job offering

This is one process that shouldn’t be left to AI. A real person from human resources must make informed decisions about talent acquisition, and select the best candidates. They can, however, be helped by:

  • data from AI, such as benchmarking, to see how the candidate compares with the organization’s best performers
  • predictive analytics that can predict how likely a candidate is to accept a job offer, how well they’ll perform, and how long they’ll stay

Onboarding

Get onboarding wrong, and all your HR professionals’ hard and costly work recruiting the best person is for nothing, if a dissatisfied employee quits within a year of joining your organization.

According to Bamboo HR:

  • Nearly 1 in 5 employees quit in their first week
  • Just 12% of employees believe their employer’s onboarding process is adequate or successful
  • Employees who had effective onboarding feel up to 18x more committed to their workplace
  • 89% of respondents said an effective onboarding process helped them feel very engaged at work, and
  • These employees are 30x more likely to feel overall job satisfaction

AI really comes into its own to create that crucial, successful onboarding experience:

  • Tedious but necessary paperwork such as contracts, policies, can be exchanged, read and signed digitally, and reminders sent.
  • Digital assistants walk new hires through the necessary onboarding stages and guide them to the next stages.
  • The necessary training and skills for each individual in their job position can be personalized and set up.
  • The right mentor or buddy can be identified to support the new employee through onboarding and beyond.

employee engagement dashboard

Artificial intelligence in training and development

Gitnux finds that 93% of HR leaders and employees in the US are open to training delivered via AI.

So, AI is not, in essence, a threat to employment, but rather an opportunity. AI will not replace all jobs, but it will have a major impact on how many jobs are performed. It’s important for companies to prepare for this potential shift in the labor market by developing the skills and knowledge necessary to remain productive and competitive into the future.

There is always a wave of concern and fear about job loss and whether or not there will be mass unemployment. In fact, unemployment is at a record low right now.

What AI is doing is changing the way that we do work. One thing we are looking into at Stanford is keeping humans in the loop.
— Erik Brynjolfsson, Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki
Professor, Director, Digital Economy Lab, Stanford University

Many organizations are open to training delivered via AI, which will help to bridge the gap between the jobs that are lost to AI and the new jobs that it helps create.

The stakes have never been higher for training a workforce to face the challenges of automation. And AI itself can assist with this, through:

Personalized learning

Because AI offers huge potential for personalized learning and development, deploy it to make training employees more engaging and meaningful. AI collects data about an employee’s:

  • Skills
  • Work style
  • Learning style
  • Projects
  • Responsibilities

Then, it makes recommendations for personalized training, such as digital coaching in presentation skills, that brings out the best in that employee, enhancing their productivity and competence.

Collaboration

This is essential in a modern workplace, particularly different departments learning from each other for a holistic experience. Workplace culture also benefits from interdepartmental team learning, and AI can pair teams in the most efficient way possible.

Learning administration

Once one of the more tedious practices for the HR department, admin can now be done with AI and automation. Data will reveal how learners engage, interact, and then implement their learning, giving leadership insight into the outcomes training programs deliver for businesses, and their return on investment (ROI).

Artificial intelligence in employee experience

Highly engaged employees, who are enjoying great employee experience, are 87% less likely to leave their employer.

For an organization to master employee experience (EX), it must listen to its people at each stage of the employee lifecycle and create personalized experiences. This is where AI can assist HR departments:

Combine O- and X-data: You’ll gather a vast amount of O-data (operational data) from an employee throughout their time at the company – from basic personal details, to training they’ve received and their salary history. When you combine that with X-data (what that employee tells you about their experience) you will unlock greater insights into why things are happening in your business, and what you can do better.

Listen to your employees: Use regular pulse surveys, open feedback platforms and conversational analytics powered by AI to listen to the voices of your employees – their satisfaction or their frustrations. Include candidate interviews, engagement surveys, ongoing performance conversations, annual performance reviews, and exit interviews to gather real-time understanding of the issues your employees face.

Using AI you can now comb through internal and external forums (Slack, Teams, Reddit, social media, review sites, emails, even call center calls and chat) wherever employees voice their opinions. Through text and conversational analytics capabilities across a variety of platforms, powered by sophisticated AI and natural language processing solutions, managers receive real signal on what matters, and when it matters, in real time, and the thoughts and feelings that people are experiencing.

Balancing technology and the human connection in HR

By using AI automatically to listen to and analyze all this information, hiring teams can get much-needed insight into how candidates feel at every stage of their experience.

Over time, AI will become an integral component for every organization’s HR management, helping to uncover recruitment trends, opportunities, and challenges that would have otherwise been missed.

And as the gaps are closed, hiring teams can build better experiences for every single candidate, and attract the right kind of people.

AI isn’t about replacing the human element, it’s about enriching it with valuable data.

When you choose the Qualtrics® EX platform, you have AI automation at your fingertips.  Our powerful,  yet easy-to-use analytics tools help your HR professionals automatically uncover what drives employee experience, and influences customer success and business performance the most.

Combine our XM Platform®, EX benchmarks, and your own data to see how your organization stacks up against the competition. And with XM Discover, the world’s most advanced conversational analytics, you‘ll get omni-channel listening, natural language processing, smarter chatbots, and AI-powered automation.

With continuous listening, organizations no longer need to guess or issue an abundance of surveys, they can tap into the rich insights that exist day to day.

AI alert

Our narrative-based dashboards and powerful planning tools, we’ve made it incredibly easy for HR leaders to help empower a productive workplace, understand employee experience levels, and identify where and how leaders can act to maximize business impact, retention, and employee experience – without losing the human touch.

Automate HR data to work for your business needs