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How AI is already impacting the employee lifecycle

Dr. Christian Schmeichel
Dr. Christian Schmeichel
Christian Schmeichel is SVP and Chief Future of Work Officer at SAP, where he is responsible for the software company's Future of Work agenda. Being passionate about people and technology, he and his organization create leading-edge people and workplace practices for SAP’s 110,000 employees in 75 countries. Building on 20 years of experience in various senior management roles across the globe, he is considered a thought leader on driving large-scale HR transformation.

From recruiting and talent management to learning and development, HR is already adopting AI in multiple ways across the employee lifecycle. And no surprise, the numbers tell us there is more to come—and show that implementing this technology is working. According to The Conference Board, almost two-thirds (65%) of CHROs expect AI to have a positive impact on the HR function over the next two years, while a Paychex study found that 75% of HR leaders plan to use AI within the next year.

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As more and more HR departments adopt and implement this technology, they’re seeing signs that the future of work rests to a large extent within AI implementation: improvements in candidate and employee experiences, productivity gains, other efficiencies and more. Going forward, the most effective HR departments are the ones where HR and AI can co-exist, augmenting one another’s capabilities and strengths without losing an emphasis on a human touch—and, needless to say, human rights, ethics and privacy. Here’s a look at some ways AI is currently being used across the employee lifecycle:

Talent analytics and predictive HR

One of the key roles AI can play in enhancing HR’s function is quickly analyzing the data needed to help HR leaders make decisions in real-time. That could include talent trend data, employee engagement and performance numbers, candidate and applicant data, and retention information.

Having this data analyzed in real-time and making it easy to understand helps with everything from workforce analysis and employee engagement to succession planning and performance review. By leveraging a much more data-driven approach, HR departments can use AI to ensure their employee touchpoints are as personal, meaningful and relevant as they can be, based on feedback that the employees themselves have provided via self-reported performance reviews, internal surveys and more.

See also: Why—and how—HR can lead organizations in AI adoption

Recruitment and talent

It’s no secret that AI is already being used to analyze resumes, check applicant qualifications and initially screen talent to ensure they’re the best fit for open roles, but there’s a lot more AI can do. AI-powered tools can also eliminate bias in recruitment by anonymizing candidate information.

This bias elimination function is a boon for HR departments emphasizing their DEI efforts; these tools are able to ensure candidates are only evaluated based on qualifications such as graduation year, education level and so on. That said, human oversight is essential here, as AI is only as unbiased and fair as the people who created it, and human beings do inherently have biases. It’s vital that HR departments are prepared to apply some oversight to AI-powered programs to ensure their hiring is as fair and equitable as possible.

And with generative AI coming into play, creating job descriptions and other documentation in light speed, it will be exciting to see how this key function in HR will evolve to the next level sooner rather than later.

DEI initiatives

Sticking with both data and DEI themes, AI-provided insights into performance and promotion data can empower HR to eliminate potential biases and disparities when determining promotions or performance improvement plans (and everything else in between). These insights can also help HR implement inclusive policies and DEI initiatives.

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The draw here is a future of work that’s not so marred by concerns over subconscious bias. That said, bias can still come into play as, again, AI is only as unbiased as its creators. HR departments must keep this in mind.

Learning and development

AI-enabled learning platforms are quickly becoming a key element when making the future of work a reality, especially when it comes to onboarding and upskilling. These platforms can be implemented by HR departments to customize training content based on each individual employee’s needs, preferences and learning styles.

Additionally, algorithms can identify skill gaps and recommend relevant training programs for employees who are struggling to learn or who want to attain new workplace-related skills. This approach pays dividends in more productivity and less burnout and employee attrition. Plus, it makes training more accessible for those in the workplace who need accommodations or additional support.

Data-driven decisions around total rewards

When it comes to employee data as it impacts compensation and benefits, AI can assist with the analysis and personalization of both. Algorithms can analyze vast amounts of performance, preference and life event data to create personalized benefits packages for each employee. This rewards-tailored approach ensures that employees receive benefits that align with their needs and aspirations, leading to higher satisfaction and lower employee turnover. AI can also help organizations compare these benefits with industry benchmarks, which keeps them competitive in the marketplace.

Along the same lines, AI can reduce bias in compensation decisions, ensuring that HR departments are determining fair compensation levels for employees by considering skill sets, experiences and performance metrics. However, this bias-reduction approach depends on how much the AI itself knows, as it can only be as unbiased as its creators. Nevertheless, it’s a great jumping-off point, as AI can remove identifying information from data and will empower HR departments and people managers to make informed decisions based on the numbers.

Related: 7 AI considerations HR leaders need to think about today


Routine employee questions, disseminating information about policies and benefits, and updating onboarding and offboarding processes are just a few of the many time-consuming tasks HR departments, and in particular, HR Shared Service Centers must trudge through. What if AI could make it easier?

AI has been successfully taught to automate many of these operational tasks—payroll, benefits, compliance activities and more—so organizations can more easily optimize their HR operations. This, in turn, leaves HR free to execute other, more nuanced and value-adding tasks.

AI is part of HR’s long-term future

While it still does need to be checked, augmented and tempered by the human element, AI is ultimately a powerful tool in an HR professional’s toolbox. Hence, no question: The future of work is reliant on HR’s ability to automate administrative tasks and bias-eliminating efforts so they’re free to focus on the nuances of leading, caring for and managing people in the next world of work. AI empowers them to do this—and looking at what’s coming up on the horizon, this is only the beginning of how HR and AI can complement one another at work every day.