7 Reasons AI Will Take Over HR — and 1 Reason It Won’t

Artificial intelligence has streamlined many human resources processes. These sophisticated computer programs excel at recognizing patterns, planning and adapting in ways that mimic human thought. Unlike people, however, who can grow tired or bored, or bring unconscious biases into their decisions, AI programs are fast, tireless and efficient.

AI is increasingly being used to automate many HR processes, and it appears automation is going to pay off big time. A study from McKinsey projects that AI will drastically change business, no matter the industry: “AI could potentially deliver additional economic output of around $13 trillion by 2030, boosting global GDP by about 1.2 percent a year.”

With that in mind, let’s consider seven ways AI improves efficiency in HR — and one reason why it’s not going to replace humans.

AI Can Sift Through Thousands of Applications Faster

Empty positions can exhaust your workforce and hurt company morale. So it’s important to quickly fill positions — but with the right person.

Sorting through incoming resumes is an arduous task that’s prone to error when left to human beings. AI can save HR departments up to 23 hours per hire by analyzing incoming applications and using algorithms to assess and evaluate the applicants’ experience, knowledge and skills.

It Increases Retention Rates and Productivity by Helping You Hiring More Qualified Candidates

Not only does AI speed up the candidate selection process and provide invaluable analysis, it also uses that data to help match candidates to the right jobs. AI algorithms can identify the traits of successful employees and look for candidates with similar characteristics for certain jobs.

It Reduces Hiring Bias

While discrimination in hiring is clearly against the law, HR personnel sometimes don’t realize they’re allowing personal biases to creep into the hiring process. After all, we’re only human. On the other hand, AI can disregard information regarding a candidate’s age, race and gender. It also doesn’t start with any biases for or against specific geographic areas, universities attended or organizational affiliations. These factors might play a subconscious role in hiring decisions when humans are reading resumes. Using AI can reduce hiring bias and help create a more culturally diverse workplace.

It Streamlines Employee Onboarding

New hires typically have many questions regarding benefits, paid time off and company policies. AI chatbots can answer these repetitive inquiries, freeing up HR personnel to handle tasks like training and office tours. AI can also assist with new-hire paperwork, helping employees get to work faster.

It Helps Employers Craft Job Descriptions

Today’s AI software can help recruiters craft the perfect job description. Programs like Textio recognize gender bias in ads, helping recruiters choose neutral language. Additionally, by comparing the language in an ad with previous ads that have worked well, AI software can help the writer craft prose to reach the desired candidates.

It Improves Employee Engagement and Builds Better Relationships

AI’s uses go beyond hiring. From scheduling meetings to coaching employees, today’s AI technology streamlines common business processes and all but eliminates the chance of human error.

It Helps You Save Time

AI helps recruiters and HR departments save time and increase efficiency. HR managers who don’t use automation for tasks such as payroll, applicant tracking, training, job postings and more say they lose an average of 14 hours a week completing these tasks manually. If your organization doesn’t use AI software to automate at least some aspects of HR, you could be losing time and money.

Why HR Still Needs People Despite These AI Strengths

AI excels at tasks that rely on data processing and pattern recognition, completing these functions faster and more efficiently than human beings can, making it a valuable tool for automating many aspects of HR.

But the “human” aspect of human resources shouldn’t be neglected. From making the final hiring decisions to finding creative ways to keep workers engaged, HR directors know their employees and their organization in ways AI software doesn’t. AI merely is a tool that can give HR team members more time to get to know employees, shape company culture and address issues that crop up.

Also, not every employee is comfortable adopting unfamiliar technologies. HR staff can ease the transition to AI, showing employees how using AI in HR can help nearly everyone in the workplace become more productive and efficient.

This article was originally published in 2017 and was updated in August 2019.

#WorkTrends: AI for HR

As we in HR know, AI is more than just a topic Common raps about in Microsoft commercials. Ready or not, it’s the future of work — and it’s coming quicker than we think.

So how can your organization adopt and embrace AI solutions while also making sure that these technological imperatives don’t overwhelm your people or your bottom line? For the answers we turned to Jeanne Meister, founding partner of Future Workplace, an AI advisory and research firm that’s best known for its training series AI 4 HR.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Do Your Research

Even if we’re already living in an AI-driven future, it doesn’t mean your organization should rush to embrace all of the latest and greatest tools.

Meister cautions that just as organizations need to think methodically about the solutions AI can offer them, they need to do the same as they select the tools they’ll work with. She says organizations need to take their time researching vendors, especially their financial viability. With so many startups out there, finding a partner that will survive long term is especially important. “With the buzz, there’s a lot of venture capital dollars,” Meister says.

Organizations also have to do a deep dive on the algorithms their partners will be implementing. Meister uses the example of the promise AI has shown in eliminating bias in talent assessment. Organizations need to understand how the algorithms work, because there’s always the possibility that an algorithm may introduce more bias.

This research is just part of the process, Meister says. You’ll have to experiment and test to get things right, and you can only do that if you truly understand how your new tool works.

How to Keep Work Human

Becoming more reliant on technology in the workplace leads to the question “How can we keep our workplaces more human?” Meister says there are two critical things organizations can do to ensure that they don’t lose that essential human touch.

First, make sure to upscale key roles that are affected by AI, and that you’re figuring out new ways for workers to bring greater value to the organization. “McKinsey had an interesting prediction that said that 30% of all the activities and about 60% of all occupations could be automated,” Meister says. “Think of this — if 30% of the role of recruiting specialists or coordinator could be automated, that individual should be upscaled so that they can deliver more value to the organization.” After all, she says, it’s the humans who are handing out job offers.

Second, be more transparent in communicating your AI strategy to employees. “There’s fear,” Meister says. “You’re going to be asking yourself, ‘What does it mean for my job and the other jobs on my team?’ ” One way to better conduct yourself during this period of change is to create a corporate code of conduct for how you’re going to use AI. This will help employees understand organizational goals — and how their jobs will change.

What Happens When Workers Automate Themselves?

Yes, you read that correctly! For all of the fear surrounding AI, there are some who’ve taken it upon themselves to automate their jobs. It’s a fascinating phenomenon that Meister recently wrote about in Forbes.

The concept of self-automation throws off our expectations around implementing AI in organizational settings; AI is typically instituted from the top down. But self-automation is happening more than you think, particularly with programmers in IT departments, and Meister says it’s a trend that’s only going to continue. But it leads to other questions: What exactly should an employer do? Is this an ethical breach for an employee?

If you discover employees automating their jobs, Meister says not to react angrily. “If an employee is self-automating their job, we have to reward their agility and their curiosity for hacking how their job gets done,” Meister says. In fact, she says, this is a sign of enthusiasm — for a desire to get tasks done and also to think about completing these tasks in a creative way.

Now, is self-automation a skill for the future? That’s a question for another episode.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode