AI will make traditional HR extinct; How to prepare for what’s next

CHRO Sonia Mathai of Globality explains how AI complements human resources to help the function work faster and smarter.
By: | June 8, 2021
(Image: Adobe)

As HR leaders, we face a radically different landscape than we did 12 months ago. A hybrid workforce, virtual recruitment and a heightened focus on diversity and inclusion have introduced new dynamics and intensified existing ones. Increasingly, we need new platforms and technologies to stay ahead—and artificial intelligence is at the forefront.

Author Sonia Mathai

Multiple surveys show that today’s Chief Human Resource Officers are aware of AI’s power to improve key HR functions, including operations, talent acquisition, training and development. Many have already adopted AI and many more plan to do so in the next two to three years. As more companies integrate AI platforms into their everyday practices, the real-life tangible benefits are becoming clearer for automating transactional tasks, enhancing employee productivity and gaining valuable insights about candidates and employees.

The Urgency of AI Adoption

In today’s competitive environment, hiring and retaining the best talent requires a heavy lift from HR teams. HR has to deliver great employee and candidate experiences across recruitment, training and operations functions with speed, accuracy and personalization.

It’s a tall order, but AI, properly implemented, can greatly help. How?

24/7 availability. Chatbots, the friendly customer-facing feature of powerful behind-the-scenes algorithms, can now simulate person-to-person conversation very well. Available any time on any device, chatbots offer the immediate response time that today’s users expect when they have hiring questions, benefits concerns, or training issues.
Automation. Think of AI as an intelligent partner to your HR professionals. With most teams trying to do more with less, AI platforms can support your workforce by automating transactional and repetitive work, freeing up their time to focus on other, more human, tasks that add greater value to the function.
Personalized communications. With the personalized experience we are used to in our day-to-day lives, business user expectations are higher than ever as well. Candidates and employees alike expect real-time access to HR resources, up-to-date alerts and enhanced communications, such as personalized information based on their location and preferences.
Real-time data. Nothing beats analytics when it comes to the rapid identification of emerging trends and problems. If significant numbers of your candidates or employees are asking the same questions or expressing similar concerns, you’ll know quickly and can move with speed to capitalize on opportunities and address problems before they escalate.

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New Approaches to Old Challenges

AI also supports other positive changes across HR functions. With the right solutions and technology partnerships, AI can strengthen your recruiting, employer branding, hiring and development and enable you to target and tailor your prospect outreach better and faster, making it more relevant and fruitful for both your candidates and your HR team. Plus, with deeper insights into your audience, you can promote your company’s culture and values in authentic, engaging ways, no matter who you’re trying to reach.

Related: Learn more about AI in HR at HR Tech this fall. Register here.

AI can also deliver important time savings in initial résumé screening. Today’s AI capabilities increase efficiency and can assess an applicant’s fit based on potential instead of past performance. The same is true for employee development and career pathing. Analytics can evaluate an employee’s prior work experience and performance, then suggest optimal development opportunities and potential advancement paths.

Leading the Way toward Acceptance

With the pandemic already accelerating existing trends toward AI and automation, it’s likely a matter of when, not if, your company will adopt them. And as with any new technology, disruption is inevitable. So how can you best prepare your company and HR teams for the impending change? It takes a multi-pronged approach that addresses the changes impacting your technology, people and processes.

As always, messaging and context are critical. Understandably, many employees fear that technology may make their roles redundant. It’s important to help them understand that AI is intended to support them, not replace them. The fact is, human resources will always require a personal touch. By automating routine tasks, AI can free up your employees’ time for the one-on-one interactions that matter most. In today’s world of hybrid work and in the midst of mass rehiring, AI helps overburdened teams manage the ever-expanding range of candidate and employee needs they juggle each day.

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Clarifying these distinctions and benefits is essential when building a thoughtful change management strategy. By first analyzing which workflows, tasks and processes will be automated by AI, you can help your employees prepare for the changes to their roles and everyday work. And it never hurts to remind your teams that some of the most valuable workplace skills—emotional intelligence, creativity and complex problem solving—are still in high demand and needed by your organization.

Building Broad Support for Change

To realize the potential of AI, it must be embraced across departments and functions. From IT to recruitment, support for AI platforms can lead to a more successful, efficient workplace that combines the best of human and digital capabilities. AI is a powerful technology that can help HR improve how we recruit, hire, measure, compensate and develop people. But sourcing and hiring will still require very human skills, from building relationships to supporting and managing employees.

Related: Why recruiters must put AI and its strategies to work—now

HR leaders can best support their organizations when equipped with the necessary insights to build growth strategies in alignment with company goals by getting the right talent with the right skills in the right roles. That means welcoming helpful technologies and being open to new ways of thinking and working every day. As we integrate the best of people and technology during this unprecedented period of disruption in our working lives, now is the ideal time for forward-thinking HR leaders to get ready for the next profound and lasting change. Successful adoption of AI enables HR teams to spend more time on the “human” part of human resources–listening to employees’ voices and supporting their wellbeing–a winning situation for everyone.

Sonia Mathai is chief human resources officer at Globality, the AI-driven platform and marketplace for B2B services.

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