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How AI-focused HR Automation Is The Future Of Work

The HR department can be thought of as the company’s core. It is where the primary resources of your company—your employees—are selected, managed, and retained.

Meanwhile, consider what would happen if the company’s core did not execute at peak levels. Workflows would slow, and employees would quickly become dissatisfied with their circumstances. It could lead to decreased efficiency, fewer sales, and ultimately, decreased revenue.

Fortunately, today, we have the option of leveraging HR automation to free up time for focusing on the most crucial functions. Moreover, we have the option of eliminating repetitive, time-consuming, and strained workflows.

Most HR functions would have been further impacted by the sudden and unplanned shift to remote work in 2020 if companies had not adopted new digitalization practices.

So, while the future of work has been discussed and debated, everyone can agree on one thing. Automation and digitalization are inevitable in the post-pandemic world, particularly when it comes to HR functions.

The Age Of Digital HR And Its Challenges

Namely, more than 80 percent of CEOs say HR has played a leading role in responding to the impact of COVID-19, proving the C-suite depends on HR to rally the workforce through disruptive times.

The new digital HR is a value driver. But with the double-edged disruption of automation and remote-working, today’s digital HR professionals face new and unpredictable challenges.

Redefining Roles

With the rise in HR process automation, many HR roles must also be redefined as well. Meanwhile, a lack of technology skills among non-IT staff can be a critical challenge for digital HR teams.

Employee Training 

There is a significant disconnect between current HR skillsets and the internal digitalization of HR teams. But the learning and development-oriented training required to bring HR teams up to speed are typically outdated and ineffective.

HR Automation Affects The Entire Workforce 

Automating HR functions is easier said than done. Many HR functions are actually HR Delivery Services. These services are how an HR team interacts with and provides services to the rest of the workforce.

When it comes to automating these HR Delivery Services, the rest of the workforce must go through proper training.

Implementation Takes Time

Digital HR transformation necessitates rethinking and rewriting the rules of people management, performance management, leadership, recruiting, and many other areas.

Onboarding these new approaches will require considerable time management, resources, and experimentation.

How AI-Based Solutions Simplify Typical HR Functions

Undoubtedly, AI or artificial intelligence is the next big driver of transformation. AI is already changing HR operations by making them more efficient, allowing for better decision-making, and automating routine tasks.

Accordingly to a 2017 KPMG survey, 56 percent of respondents expect to see an improved performance due to HR automation. Meanwhile, 54 percent believe that sophisticated algorithms will free up people for more strategic tasks.

AI, cognitive processing, advanced analytics, and digital applications are all transforming how HR teams operate. Here are a few ways through which AI-based automation could simplify your people processes.

HR Chatbots Help Streamline Communication

Cognitive automation uses NLP (natural language processing) to interact with employees through HR chatbots. Think of it as an HR cloud-based digital assistant. It handles things like general inquiries, routine transactions, time-off requests, and payroll management.

AI Makes Recruiting Easier

Automation makes sourcing talents much simpler yet less biased. AI-based hiring tools can efficiently filter CVs, shortlist applicants, schedule interviews, collect interview data, help streamline the employee onboarding process, and manage new hires.

Cloud-based AI tools are used to compare job candidates to employees who have excelled in similar roles within the organization.

AI Enhances the Employee Experience

HR professionals can enhance employee experience by harnessing AI-based automation and digital tools on employee-centric programs.

These programs can range from rewards and recognition, employee benefits and compensation, employee surveys, and more. Automation of such programs ensures that engaging people is a continuous, timely, and measurable business process.

AI Aids In Decision-Making

AI-based tools empower HR leaders to make intelligent and faster decisions through tracking employee trends, insights, and data. Non-human involvement also attributes to fewer errors.

Additionally, discussing the complete role of AI in simplifying business processes is beyond the scope of this article. But what we will be discussing is why HR leaders must focus on going digital as soon as possible.

Does HR Automation Truly Drive Better Business Performance?

Digital-first human resource management focuses on innovation and automates everyday administrative tasks. Meanwhile, HR professionals can focus on doing priority tasks. Measuring and improving productivity, understanding talent needs, designing the future workplace, and more.

Here’s how AI-based automation will help them do so.

Workforce Insights 

Data is the new currency of today’s world. Without it, you might very well be shooting in the dark. That stands true for HR too, as attracting and retaining talent is a crucial function of HR.

With the implementation of AI-based tools, collecting, assessing, and acting on data-driven insights becomes a lot easier. It answers some vital questions like, “What benefits do employees really want?” and “Why is the turnover rate higher than last year?”

Competitive Advantage 

According to a Unit 4 survey, office workers spend 69 days annually on administrative activities. Ultimately, it ends up costing businesses $5 trillion each year.

Automation software will streamline HR functions, increasing employee productivity, efficiency, and engagement. Thus, if a company continues to rely on manual workflows, it risks losing its competitive edge.

Employee Experience

In the 2017 Deloitte Human Capital Trends report, 80 percent of HR and business leaders responded that employee experience was “important” or “extremely important” to them.

It reflects how today’s leaders understand that keeping their workforce happy is vital to “future-proof” a company.

AI and automation software can help you design the perfect employee experience through the timely collection, analysis, and monitoring of employee-centric data. This data can include metrics like engagement levels, onboarding data, exit data, and so on.

How Will HR Automation Affect Your Workforce?

One major upheaval that will come with HR automation is the eventual need for workforce shaping.

Workforce shaping is the process of redefining employee roles and responsibilities to meet the demand of a digitally transformed workplace. It means that no job role is a fixed one. An employee can have a completely different job role by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, the job requirements will change, and the pool of candidates will get more diverse.

It will be easier than ever to use HR automation software to improve the employee value proposition. The employee value proposition refers to the benefits you provide an employee in exchange for their performance.

HR professionals can use AI-based HR tools to focus on the critical factors of making an employee feel engaged. Specifically, these factors include performance-based recognition, compensation, employee benefits, career development, and more.

Key Takeaway

In conclusion, HR automation represents the inevitable digital transformation shift that experts long predicted.

It may be difficult to manage a mostly remote workforce–but only until HR teams become accustomed to the digitization of their day-to-day operations.

Using Ethical AI Technology to Champion DE&I Efforts

Anyone can launch a DEI initiative. The big challenge is to succeed.

What’s the biggest roadblock? Human unconscious biases.

Psychologists have shown over and over in research studies that our biases are ingrained and automatic. Even if we think we’re champions of equality, the associations are likely still there. For example, studies show that it’s not just men that associate being male with being smart. Women do it too.

Why do we have unconscious biases? And why is it so hard to shake them?

Biases are shortcuts. They are quick ways to make choices. That doesn’t make them good ways to make choices. They just help us navigate our world quickly in a way that feels good. These biases become particularly prominent in situations where we have to make a high volume of decisions quickly. There is simply no time to be thoughtful in these cases.

In the world of HR, the steady stream of resumes and constant pressure to hire is the perfect setup for unconscious biases to have free reign. Recruiters hire candidates that feel like the “right fit” and base these choices on biases. There is really no other way for the human brain to process that volume of information in a more effective or objective manner.

So how do we move towards hiring equity and remove these biases? Embrace AI technology.

Using AI technology in HR can be off-putting for two reasons:

  1. Some feel concerned about the “ick factor” of having not enough humanity in the HR process. In other words, who are machines to tell us how to hire?
  2. Others feel concerned about having the worst of humanity hard-wired into the HR process. They wonder: What if the technology learns our bad choices and implements them more broadly?

In either case, the AI technology underpinning any HR solution must stay ethical. In the HR space, there are many AI solutions. But not all of them are created equal. To ensure the technology you’re selecting is part of the solution and not an unethical part of the problem, you must be an active consumer of these technologies.

How to find the ethical AI technology for your team

To keep AI tech providers honest and their solutions ethical, you’ll need to avoid the following common pitfalls:

  • Baked-in biases: Unethical AI can embed inequity into the HR system itself. Make sure you are not codifying biases in hiring and making them more pervasive.
    • How to avoid them: Start with good, bias-free data. Be choosy with the data that your AI learns on. Bad data is worse than no data.
  • One-size-fits-all approaches: Unethical AI tries to be the universal solution for everything. AI doesn’t work well when its expertise is spread too thin.
    • How to avoid them: Narrow your AI’s focus. AI is at its most powerful when targeted to a specific space like human resources. This keeps AI-driven answers fast and accurate.
  • “Black box” systems: Unethical AI lacks transparency and may have unclear or opaque scientific methodology and/or output. This can lead to legal defensibility issues.
    • How to avoid them: Create a feedback loop where the humans that make up your HR team and the AI tech they rely on can learn from each other. Make sure you understand both the science behind the technology and its output.

How to partner with AI technology

We shouldn’t be using AI tech to replace humans, but to augment them. AI can radically alter how work gets done and who does it. It can help humans amplify their strengths, extend their capabilities, and free up their time.

But humans also need to do their part to support AI in return. They need to:

  • Help AI train to perform its tasks
  • Be able to explain these tasks to relevant stakeholders (which sometimes includes the AI itself)
  • Have a level of oversight to make sure these tasks are being completed responsibly

Creating a collaborative process where AI plays an objective gatekeeper role that is focused and transparent will help HR personnel feel confident adding ethical AI to their processes. It will also reassure HR professionals that the humanity of Human Resources will remain intact and can even be enhanced by incorporating AI. When AI and humans stay in the lanes that they excel in, everybody wins. AI gets to do what it does best, and so do humans.

Make sure to keep the lines of communication open between your AI technology and your human team. When AI and humans learn from each other, the people that you hire will feel the difference. And you’ll be confident you’ve hired the best person for the job–bias-free.

The Future of Work: AI Transforms Career Progression

What is the shelf life of your professional skills? According to research, not very long. In fact, one in three skills from an average 2017 job posting in IT, finance, or sales is obsolete due to continued digital innovation. If that stat doesn’t shock you, it should. The skills we have today are expiring fast, with some experts estimating their life expectancy at just two to three years.

While we can’t place blame solely on the global COVID-19 pandemic, it and other world events have accelerated us toward an environment of unrelenting business transformation and permanently pixelated work arrangements. Employers must now prioritize a more inclusive, purpose-driven culture through broader strategic skilling investments to retain and attract top talent.

Leveraging AI for skill proximity

As our skills become increasingly outdated, new skills will replace them. So, how can employees expect to excel in their careers when today’s business landscape is continuously evolving? It boils down to one word: visibility. A barrier many employees face in the workplace is a lack of visibility into career advancement opportunities. Employees are also largely unaware of the resources and connections available to help them achieve their career goals. This obstacle stems, in part, from a prolonged debate regarding who within a business owns career development. Difficulties aligning the needs and wants of the employee with those of the organization has also contributed to the issue.

Through skills proximity, employers can provide greater visibility. Companies should prioritize an employee’s distance between skills and identify how skills correlate to expedite development. If businesses can find a balance between where employees want to take their careers and where they might be able to take their careers within the organization, they can recognize and foster the skills needed to help them grow.

AI technology has a role to play here. For employees to proactively pursue a growth plan that accelerates career mobility, we need to leverage AI to make skills data and qualification information readily available. Resurfacing relevant learning content and development opportunities is also paramount to an employee’s future success. Done right, it can deliver a broad range of business benefits too. Improved organizational agility and workforce productivity, as well as increased transparency and DE&I, are all advantages attributed to AI.

In addition to AI technology, learning and development content is another tool necessary to ignite career development at work. However, human resources and talent leaders first need to identify a way to connect learning and development to performance results–and annual performance reviews aren’t going to cut it.

Employees and businesses each play a role

There is no one size fits all approach to employee engagement. For employers to maximize the success of their training programs, they must first personalize the content available to each employee. Lessons should be adapted according to an employee’s needs, learning style, and preferred delivery method, in turn allowing the employee to more easily navigate their own development and gauge how their skill-maturity aligns with their overall career goals.

Businesses also need to reconsider how they measure learning and development. Self-directed learning pathways require an element of unstructured exploration required for career growth. Currently, however, course completion and time in course are the metrics being utilized. While important, we need to pivot and explore other factors, including course engagement and the focus of content employees primarily seek out.

Ultimately, employee learning is the foundation of high performance and a key motivator for those wanting to stay at their current company. According to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning report, managers are 3.3x more likely to still be with their company in two years if offered the room to learn and grow. Proof that when you invest in people, they will invest in you.

Employee experience is critical for overall company success

The bottom line is the best way to help employees achieve their full potential is to provide career growth opportunities. An AI-driven platform can provide employees with a unified view of skills. It can provide a measurement of the proximity of different skills. Also, it can provide continuous monitoring of the new skills required for continued career progression. Organizations that utilize comprehensive skills data will have a better understanding of their talent’s existing skillsets. Additionally, they’ll understand what will be required of them in the future to adapt.

Between artificial intelligence and the careful deployment of skills-oriented content, anyone with the intrinsic motivation to grow can benefit.

Image by Matthew Henry

HR Lessons Learned: Hiring Takeaways from 5 Different Industries

Talent acquisition is one of the most critical yet challenging undertakings for any business. Companies in many sectors face a shortage of workers today; they face stiff competition to hire applicants—any applicant. At the same time, hiring managers in other sectors must sift through a surplus of applications to find the best candidate.

In 2020, 74 percent of CEOs globally were concerned about the availability of key skills, with 32 percent being “extremely concerned.” There’s sufficient reason behind these concerns, too. A successful hire can extend a business’s value, while a poor selection can represent a considerable waste of resources.

As you can imagine, HR teams and recruiters are looking for ways to solve this problem. And many look for help in this area by turning to other industries. For example, what are companies in tech doing to improve efficiencies in hiring practices? How are organizations in the manufacturing sector, many of which are struggling through a long-term labor shortage, meeting this challenge?

To answer those questions, let’s look at standard hiring practices in five sectors at both ends of the labor spectrum. Perhaps by reviewing the HR lessons learned in each, your company can learn how to optimize your talent acquisition strategy.

1. Technology: Pre-employment Testing

The technology industry is one of the most rapidly growing sectors today. It also involves a high level of specialization and expertise, and as such, has had to develop similarly specialized hiring methods. Most notably, tech companies frequently rely on pre-employment tests.

In the tech sector, an applicant’s education and occupational background isn’t always the most reliable evidence of their skills or aptitude. The tech industry has recognized this, and so businesses frequently require applicants to take a skills assessment. These tests offer more conclusive proof of a candidate’s aptitude in a company’s specific needed skills.

The downside to pre-employment testing is that it’s time-consuming. The more in-depth the assessment, the longer it will delay the hiring process. If companies can afford that time, though, borrowing this practice from the tech sector can produce impressive results.

2. Healthcare: Artificial Intelligence

The medical sector has an 18.7 percent turnover rate, so healthcare companies need to recruit new workers quickly. Consequently, many organizations have turned to artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline the hiring process.

The healthcare industry has a history of using AI to increase medication adherence and more, so applying it to hiring was a natural step. Hospitals use it to automate tedious, repetitive tasks like interview scheduling and application screening. One of the HR lessons learned here is that automation gets promising applicants to the interview stage of hiring quicker, helping speed the journey from application to onboarding.

AI hiring tools are relatively new, but their impact is snowballing in many hiring sectors. With AI, larger businesses in various industries have found solutions that streamline their hiring processes by automating several recruiter and candidate tasks. As technology advances, these tools will be able to do even more to help the hiring process–and they’ll also be more available (and affordable) to smaller businesses.

3. Manufacturing: Passive Candidate Search

Manufacturing companies have had to work with an ongoing labor shortage for years. With fewer people entering the industry, manufacturers have had to find new avenues for recruiting workers. One of the most effective of these strategies has been searching for passive candidates.

Businesses have found that many manufacturing professionals are hard to find because they’re not actively looking for a new job. These workers don’t often apply independently. Given the right opportunity, however, they could be willing to switch careers or positions. Scouring databases of nearby workers, industry-related forums, and other data sources to find these employees helps manufacturers find ideal candidates.

Other industries facing labor shortages can employ the same tactic. After all, sometimes the best employees aren’t actively looking for new work. Until a better offer comes along, that is.

4. Real Estate: Mentorship

Success in the real estate sector often requires experience and intimate industry knowledge. While many companies’ reaction to this hiring environment would be to look for outside, experienced hires, many brokerages take a different approach. Instead of finding already-knowledgeable employees, real estate companies create them through inside hiring and mentorship programs.

The theory behind this approach: It’s easier to find an eager but inexperienced new hire than to poach an experienced outside worker. Real estate brokerages understand that by pairing recruits with their veteran employees, they can cultivate expertise.

By the time these once-inexperienced recruits become eligible for higher-level positions, they’ll be more qualified for it than anyone else. In fact, research shows that outside hires take three years to perform as well as internal hires doing the same job. So, rather than having to find employees in a competitive marketplace, one of the HR lessons learned here is that investing in better training through mentors helps companies more organically build the best workforce.

5. Education: Internships

The hiring process in the education industry is unique. Teaching at a K-12 level requires years of experience through hands-on education programs and passing certification tests. Not all industries have such high requirements, but they can still learn from these pipelines.

College students pursuing education degrees finish their programs by student-teaching at a school. More often than not, the school systems where they student-teach will later hire them as full-time teachers when they graduate. Businesses and other industries can mimic this process by instituting intern programs that act as pipelines to employment.

Universities frequently involve faculty in interviewing and hiring their colleagues. Other industries can benefit from this same practice. In this longer-term hiring approach, employees already have intimate, hands-on knowledge about a position’s actual demands. So they can help spot ideal or unideal candidates and advise hiring decision-makers accordingly.

Businesses Can Learn a Lot from Other Industries

In a labor shortage, hiring companies must look further than their competitors for ideas about how to improve their hiring process. There are many HR lessons learned when taking inspiration from other industries like those mentioned above. These industries can provide practical, novel insights that businesses may not have gained otherwise.

These five industries are not perfect examples of ideal hiring processes, of course, but they all feature useful takeaways. Learning from each, then combining methods as necessary, can help create the optimal talent acquisition system for your company.

 

Image from Marvent

Why We Must Unlock the Power of AI for Small Businesses

For all the attention large enterprise organizations get, small businesses have a tremendous impact. According to U.S. census data, companies with fewer than 500 employees make up more than 99% of all businesses. They also account for more than half of all economic and employment activity. This means it is time to unlock the transformative power of AI for small businesses.

Many of the most exciting artificial intelligence (AI) tools available today are targeted at larger companies. Sometimes, much, much larger. While some of that is by design, it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, given the promise and potential of AI, companies that develop these tools should focus on how they can bring them to the small businesses that power such a significant portion of our economy.

We know it won’t be easy.

The Good (And Not So Good) Reasons Small Business Has Limited Access to AI

Unlocking the power of AI for smaller businesses isn’t just a matter of flipping a few switches in a tech solution. There are a variety of reasons why — some good and some bad — so much AI innovation has been focused on the top 1% of businesses.

Let’s start with one of the bad ones: the SaaS business model.

The economic and employment activity associated with large enterprise organizations is gigantic. Getting a big enterprise customer might be worth dozens or even hundreds of companies with fewer than 500 employees. For SaaS business models that depend on growing recurring revenue, often based on the number of employees or users, this model makes sense — at least for them. After all, think about how much easier it is for AI builders to target and service the Fortune 100 or 500 than it is to target millions of smaller businesses.

Although that may make sense from a pure business perspective, it keeps a growing class of buyers from benefiting from the innovation available to larger firms.

A second, less bad reason: Many AI tools are imagined as a way to solve big company challenges. For example, an AI chatbot that interacts with potential customers on your website and answers their questions sounds nice, right? But is it worth the large-scale investment for a company that sells $500,000 a month to a handful of customers? Probably not. Another example: Do organizations need an AI warehouse logistics solution if an employee can jog across their storehouse in 30 seconds? Again, probably not – or at least it isn’t worth the investment required.

While there’s obviously room for niche solutions, many of the limitations are driven by a lack of imagination. But there’s one area that’s ultimately challenging for smaller businesses to compete with…

The One Big Challenge for Small Business: Data

Larger organizations have one key advantage: data – usually, lots and lots of internal data, an incredibly relevant factor to AI.

Even more than just the sheer cost or the possible value AI could deliver to organizations, many tools simply aren’t a good fit if you don’t generate a lot of data from which to learn. For instance, it’s much easier to apply machine learning to a database with millions of customer orders across thousands of different product offerings. This large data set gives a recommendation engine a much richer data set to pull from.

It’s not just the initial setup, either. AI runs better when you are pulling in more real-time data. After all, how can a machine learn about predicted order flow if you’re not taking in hundreds or thousands of orders a day?

For small businesses, the lack of big data is a significant hurdle. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t solutions that can be applied to smaller organizations.

6 Ways Companies Can Cater AI to Smaller Businesses

Although there may never be an AI inventory solution for a small parts manufacturer, there are other areas where AI can serve smaller organizations well. It starts with solution providers and smaller organizations working together to consider their needs and then determine what’s truly possible. Here are just six ways AI companies can better serve small businesses:

1. Focus on finding solutions for more targeted needs

Instead of replacing a major part of the business, how can AI help streamline painful parts of your workflow? You may not be able to get a full AI assistant, but a tool that schedules meetings can be helpful even at smaller organizations.

2. Apply AI insights where internal data sources are not available

There’s an incredible amount of external data out there to drive AI insights. For example, it doesn’t require any internal data at all to leverage a recruiting process for small businesses that uses publicly available information to determine when a small business should reach out to a candidate.

3. Use AI to bring new expertise that a leaner team may not have

AI can also bring expertise that only an experienced team could deliver. For instance, an AI-driven programmatic ad-buying solution could supplement a team with more expertise on broader brand-building campaigns.

4. Be able to ramp up a solution quickly

Small businesses don’t have months to get up to speed. Instead, AI could help those businesses focus on consumer-friendly solutions that can get someone using their platform with very little ramp-up time.

5. Look for organizations that offer different pricing models

Traditional SaaS models are great for SaaS companies – but it’s not always the right model for smaller businesses that only see the top dollar amount on a long-term contract. A flat-rate or shorter-term contract – perhaps with on-off capability – can get people to opt-in to a more affordable, more practical AI solution much quicker.

6. Provide built-in support

You can’t support small businesses the same way you support large corporations. That means including tutorials and walk-throughs with the product is critical. Affordable, all-inclusive service and customization plans would also appeal to smaller businesses.

AI for Small Businesses: They Deserve the Power of AI

The next hire, sale, or customer experience touchpoints are all so important to small businesses. The impact of each on the budget of a small business, as a proportion of their expenditures, is enormous.

Enterprise organizations will always be able to make use of the latest and greatest AI technology. It’s time to apply that same energy to finding solutions for smaller businesses, the lifeblood of many communities across the U.S.

No, it won’t be easy. But by working together, we can help unlock the power of AI for small businesses.

 

Image by Peshkova

ATS + AI: Using Talent Intelligence to Unlock the Potential of Candidates

What is talent intelligence? And how can it help drive the right candidates into your company’s talent funnel?

An applicant tracking system provides the foundation for many corporate talent acquisition departments. These applicant tracking systems do what the name implies: they track applicants. They also store information such as resumes, perform keyword searches, help companies with government rules, etc. And to that end, they do the job.

And yet, many companies need more. 

The reality is that companies design ATSs to hire people who’ve done a job similar to one that’s open today. But for the companies whose businesses are changing rapidly, hiring someone based on specific experience isn’t sufficient. Take, for example, this quote from the recent 2021 HR Tech Market report from the analyst Josh Bersin: 

“I recently interviewed the head of talent acquisition for a large pharma company. She told me that the science of genetics is advancing so fast that they can no longer recruit for specific positions or jobs. Rather, her teams now look for people with advanced scientific expertise and recruit them into jobs needing these skills. This is a big trend in AI, machine learning, and cyber, where the core disciplines are advancing so fast that companies can’t hire for specific positions.”

Like this pharma company, many employers need to be future-ready. They need to hire for jobs that haven’t been created yet. So they need to hire people for potential and capabilities – not experience. Their ATS is not enough.

ATS + AI = Talent Intelligence

A system of talent intelligence, on the other hand, is designed to hire for potential. It considers an applicant’s “adjacent skills” – enabling them to succeed in an open role.

Here are some of what companies can do by pairing an ATS with artificial intelligence:

Add Deep-learning AI to Searches

Adding the deep-learning capabilities of AI to searches helps bring people with the potential to do the job to the surface. By identifying adjacent skills and delivering far more relevant profiles, an employer increases the number of qualified candidates in their talent pipeline.

Use AI to Enable Talent Rediscovery

AI helps find people in a “Talent Network,” which includes past applicants, employee referrals, and “silver medalists” who may not have been a fit before but are now. We’ve found that companies that pair AI with an applicant tracking system find that roughly one-third of new hires coming from past applicants.

Building a Talent Network

A Talent Network is more than a database of past applicants. It can include employee referrals, ex-employees, and even current employees. In fact, we’ve seen from our customers that a Talent Network averages roughly about 200 times the number of employees at a company. So, as a rule of thumb, if you have 10,000 employees, you have something on the order of a 2 million person Talent Network when pairing an ATS with a capable AI platform. And more data equals better search results and more qualified candidates.

Make Matches

With AI, companies can see who the strongest matches are for any job, regardless of whether these matches are past applicants, ex-employees, passive/sourced employees, or referrals with the potential to succeed. This saves time and improves quality of hire. Postmates turned to a talent intelligence platform and saw a 46 percent increase in strongly matched candidates between September 2019 and September 2020.

Focus on Skills, Not Jobs 

An AI platform understands the capabilities, including current skills and learnable skills, of every individual. Without this, with just an ATS, companies often default to “who has done the exact job we’re hiring for” based on antiquated keyword searches.

Personalize a Career Site

Within a career site powered by talent intelligence, candidates can immediately find the right job for them. They’ll also understand the reasons why that job is a fit for their qualifications and potential. This improves engagement and measurably lowers drop-off rates. Companies can also add a chatbot to improve the candidate experience and handle employee queries more efficiently.

At AirAsia, for example, the percentage of recruiting website visitors who eventually applied for a position rose 35 percent after adding talent intelligence to its career site. At Dexcom’s career site, 40 percent of career site visitors now apply for a job, and 42 percent upload a resume.

Improve CRM

Rarely does an applicant tracking system come equipped with the kind of technology you find in leading sales and marketing platforms. (Heck, many of the CRM systems made for the talent industry are lacking as well.) The ATS-AI combination, though, nurtures candidates in a pipeline based on their interests and delivers content of interest to them. Veterans, for example, can receive blog posts or company information about a company’s work with veterans and the military. Nutanix has seen a 70 percent open rate with some of its targeted campaigns. 

NextRoll decided to sponsor the Grace Hopper Celebration, an annual event that draws thousands of women who want to pursue a career in engineering. It sent emails to all women engineers in its database of potential candidates, saying NextRoll would be at the conference. “We got an incredible response that greatly exceeded our expectations,” Global Head of Talent Jody Atkins recalls. “People came up to us and said they received our email and wanted to seek us out. That was really rewarding. And it helped our employer branding, which was the goal of going to the conference.” 

Conference sponsors received an electronic book of resumes from all attendees. In the end, NextRoll uploaded more than 10,000 resumes.

NextRoll has also tailored contacts with individuals identified as high-potential candidates. “You have to engage people multiple times if you want to attract them to your company,” Atkins says. “Our engineers are encouraged to write blogs, and we use Eightfold to identify the subset of people in our database who would be interested in the subject of each blog.”

Improve Diversity

Companies like Postmates also have seen huge improvements in the diversity of their job applicants after combining AI with an ATS and hiring for potential. Postmates increased Black, Hispanic, and female applicants sharply, the latter by 91 percent between September 2019 and September 2020. 

Run Virtual Events and Hire Virtually

Virtual and in-person events are just so much more effective with the AI-ATS combination; it allows companies to spend their event time on the people who are strong matches for your jobs. AirAsia said that “Virtual Event Recruiting improved our recruiter’s efficiency and the quality of candidates through AI-enabled candidate matching. It was a single place to review and manage registration, assessment, and candidate experience.”

Schedule Interviews 

When asked to break down how they spend their days, many recruiters will tell you they wished they were doing a lot more… recruiting. Instead, recruiters get bogged down coordinating schedules. Adding an AI-based interview-scheduling system to an applicant tracking system frees recruiters up to do what’s most valuable and more fulfilling:

  • AirAsia cut recruiters’ coordination time by about 48 percent
  • Conagra  told us it has given “time back to recruiters to allow them to be true advisors to our business leaders.”
  • COIT Group said it has “freed up the recruiters to focus on the part where the human element’s important and allow them to go in and eliminate having to spend all day looking through that database for pockets of gold.”

Measure Results

Augmenting your ATS with the right platform offers ready-to-use, real-time reporting for diversity, CRM, recruiting pipeline, and other talent functions. So, with some legacy systems, a company may just see that it has a “diversity problem” if it can determine how many women, to take one example, work at different levels of the company. You can hone in on the problem with talent intelligence: are people from under-represented groups dropping off at the screening stage? The interview? Not accepting offers? In which departments/managers is the problem the worst? In the end, identifying the specific problem helps get to a solution.  

Pair Your ATS with AI

The bottom line is that, for the most part, an ATS actually does do what humans designed it to do. By definition, it’s a system of tracking and storage that relies on keyword matching based on the candidate’s experience. However, it is not a talent intelligence system – one that provides the ability to hire based on adjacent skills, as-yet untapped potential, and capabilities. 

Pairing an ATS with AI – and creating a talent intelligence platform – can dramatically increase your return on investment. And it can drive the right candidates into your talent funnel. Yes, even for jobs that didn’t exist until now.

 

Image by MNBB Studio

HR Automation: Understanding the Limits of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence has been infiltrating the business world for the past several years and has also played a major role in HR automation. Today, companies across all industries are using AI to automate a variety of job tasks and replace human capital. And by the mid-2030s, PwC estimates, 30% of all jobs will be automated.

The COVID-19 pandemic only promises to accelerate this trend. Now more than ever, business units are looking to boost their efficiency and save money through automation ‒ and HR is no exception. Automation has the potential to help HR teams recruit, hire, and train employees — and many organizations already use AI-driven software to carry out these tasks.

At first glance, it might make sense to hand some of these repetitive responsibilities to computers instead of humans. But as the executive director of an organization that teaches tech skills and works with companies on talent solutions, I believe these HR functions should remain largely human-driven.

HR automation can — and often does — go awry. Amazon’s HR team experienced this back in 2018, when it was using an algorithm to automatically review résumés. Unbeknownst to them, their AI was penalizing job applicants whose résumés included the word “women.” This bias went on for a solid year before the company noticed, causing the elimination of countless qualified candidates.

This cautionary tale illustrates why HR teams should be wary when implementing automation into their workflows. After all, AI might look like an enticing, cost-effective tool for screening candidates and building teams. But it can also cause your company to waste time and resources.

The Invaluable Human Element in HR

HR is all about humans. It requires a level of knowledge, nuance, and critical thought that simply cannot be replicated by even the most sophisticated AI solutions. As this technology continues to evolve, HR practitioners must remain vigilant about their use of automation. They also must ensure they appropriately devote human minds to the tasks that require them.

Looking ahead, HR teams can play a key strategic role in helping their companies prepare for the automation revolution. Here are three ways they can do so:

1. Futurecast for the Workforce of Tomorrow

According to the World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs Report 2020,” automation could displace 85 million jobs and create 97 million new jobs by 2025. No industry will be immune to this massive redistribution.

What skills will your company need one year from now, five years from now, and 10 years from now? HR professionals should steep themselves in market research and trends, and they should start proactively hiring for those skills today. Companies that conduct this analysis early and often will put themselves at a considerable advantage in the future.

2. Identify Opportunities (and Inevitabilities)

HR teams should keep a close eye on where automation is heading in their industries and how other companies are using this technology effectively. They should help their companies identify which positions are solid candidates for automation, which tasks should be driven by humans, and which jobs could be flat-out eliminated.

As jobs are automated and redistributed over time, companies will find themselves continually needing different skill sets across each department. HR practitioners should keep a watchful eye on how their teams are changing and continuously reassess the human skills that matter most. Creating and executing a reskilling program that trains existing employees in these skills will only serve your company well.

3. Evaluating Candidates for Reskilling and Upskilling

After developing an automation road map, HR teams can start reskilling and upskilling high-performing employees for the jobs of the future. First, they should identify adaptable workers who demonstrate a passion for learning new skills. They should encourage these individuals to pursue new roles after their jobs are automated, then provide them with learning opportunities.

This reskilling program must be crafted and carried out by human intelligence. It requires a series of interviews and heartfelt conversations, as well as a keen eye for soft skills. AI might be able to quickly sort through résumés and search for keywords. On some level, AI can also identify people who are qualified for the job — on paper. But AI cannot assess a candidate’s soft skills or persuade them to change their career path. Even newer technology that can detect facial expressions and vocal tones during video interviews cannot accurately assess a candidate’s fitness for a job. Traditional human-to-human interaction is the only way to uncover someone’s intangible attributes and their openness to reskilling.

HR Automation: Proceed with Caution

Automation remains poised to completely transform the industrial world. This incredible technology is forcing millions of companies to rethink their inner workings. It is exciting to imagine the multitude of ways companies can use AI to become smarter and more efficient. And yet businesses should proceed with caution when implementing it in the HR realm.

Team-building is a delicate process, and as we know, automation can present many drawbacks. Leaders must delegate vital HR tasks to human intelligence, not computer code. To help companies cope with the rise of automation, HR teams must use their critical thinking skills to assess the technological landscape, understand talent gaps, and identify opportunities for reskilling.

 

 

Michael Dziedzic

[#WorkTrends] How AI is Reinventing Talent Management

How will AI transform talent management? How will it impact talent acquisition?

One of the biggest challenges in talent management today? Enabling our employees to develop within our organizations — helping them grow and learn new skills so they don’t feel the need to opt-out and move on. 

In today’s world of work, employees expect companies to provide an opportunity for growth. In fact, a recent study noted in Forbes shows 78 percent of employees surveyed during the pandemic believe employers should help them become better off than they were before. 

Many quality organizations, in response to this growing work trend, are more intentionally providing continuous learning opportunities for team members. They are turning to technology to facilitate upskilling and reskilling and to improve internal mobility. And in 2020, that means using AI to first provide actionable insights — and then again leveraging the power of AI when executing the talent management vision.

Our Guest: Brad Sutton from Eightfold.ai

In this week’s episode of #WorkTrends, I am joined by Brad Sutton from the Strategic Accounts team at Eightfold.ai, a talent intelligence platform for enterprises that leverage AI to hire, engage, and nurture talent. Together, we talked about how AI is transforming the talent management game — from recruiting to team building to succession planning. As we learned, AI is also proving to be a powerful ally in retention engagement initiatives as well.

Brad shared an example of a company struggling to change their talent game: “They had 100 people taking inventory of their people’s skills. They spent a lot of time and money, only to learn that once you go through an exercise like this, it’s just one snapshot in time. Those skills expire after two to five years; many are out of date soon after a thorough people skills analysis project is over.”

Brad added: “So, organizations don’t necessarily know what skills each person has mastered today.  And, internally, we don’t do a good job of understanding all the things we’re each capable of tomorrow.”

There has to be a better way, right? To provide growth opportunities within an organization, we must know the full potential of each leader and team member. Brad agrees: “If your company’s not telling you, ‘Well here are the opportunities that you have here,’ or if somebody’s not advocating for you, it’s hard to find that next opportunity inside the organization.”

So, people opt-out. They choose to move on. And, during their subsequent job interviews, their skills, capabilities, and potential are thoroughly discussed. Rather than let that happen, Brad says we can rely on Talent Intelligence.

Talent Intelligence = Talent Management

“At its core, Talent intelligence is understanding the skills and capabilities of the people inside your talent network. Your talent network is every employee, everybody within your HRIS, and anybody who’s ever worked for your organization. It also includes alumni, referrals, and candidates. Often, this talent network is 100 to 200 times the size of your organization. AI looks at that huge talent network, then understands the skills and capabilities of each person. It allows us to know who has the potential to do something else, and learn something new.”

I learned from Brad that AI can help us assess, in real-time, who is ready to grow — perhaps even before we realize an opportunity for growth exists. 

“That’s what Talent Intelligence does,” Brad says. “It understands what you’ve done, and what you can do.”

Brad and I discussed how AI-driven talent intelligence can make a difference in many other areas, including reskilling and upskilling, retention of top talent, and a topic always near and dear to my heart: diversity and inclusion. Be sure to catch the entire episode. You won’t want to miss a minute!

#WorkTrends Twitter Chat: Wednesday, 10-28

Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to engage with Brad on our next #WorkTrends Twitter chat, Wednesday, October 28 at 1:30pm Eastern. Brad will help us answer these questions:

  • Q1: Why do organizations struggle with talent management?
  • Q2. How can leaders make their talent management strategies more effective?
  • Q3: What strategies can promote smarter talent management for the future?

See you there!

 

Find Brad on LinkedIn.

 

This podcast was sponsored by Eightfold.ai.

 

Editor’s note: To better meet the needs of our valued community members, the #WorkTrends podcasts and also our Twitter chats have evolved! Check out the new FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast page. Then let us know how we’re doing!

 

Adrien Olichon

[#WorkTrends] The Inspiring Power of AI-Driven Collaboration

How can AI-driven collaboration help extend our company culture to the remote workplace?

You don’t want to miss a single episode of #WorkTrends…  subscribe to the podcast now!

At TalentCulture, we have always been a remote workplace. So lately, I’ve found it really interesting to work with companies that are experiencing this for the first time. It’s been fun, and inspiring, watching them pivot so quickly — and to see them function so well within the digital workspace we already knew so well.

For these and so many others, the many actions and interactions that happen within organizations have shifted to remote. Communication, meetings, feedback, managing, planning — all now happen virtually. It’s been really exciting to see work teams make the transition and thrive, especially in the HR space. In the last few months, I’ve often felt the urge to virtually pat HR teams on the back as they realize they can, in fact, run HR remotely. As they do, they’re not just learning a new way to operate.

They are learning that Artificial Intelligence, or AI, plays a huge role in how they manage, monitor, measure, and lead their efforts.

Our Guest: Guibert Englebienne of Globant

That is why I invited Guibert Englebienne, the Chief Technology Officer & Co-founder of Globant, on this week’s edition of #WorkTrends. I wanted to talk about how AI-driven collaboration enables us to manage our work and engage our people in entirely different ways. And how the best forms of AI enable us to work together efficiently and creatively from anywhere in the world. 

I first asked him what makes today’s workplace so different from past versions. His response quickly left me impressed with Guibert’s passion for his work, and for helping HR teams: “Technology has accelerated the world we live in today. That fast-paced competition has made companies focus on delighting consumers. Now it’s time to delight employees as well.”

“The pandemic forced us to digitally transform the world overnight. Organizations suddenly found themselves in a broadly remote working environment. That creates a lot of challenges,” Guibert added. “It was natural, at some point, to start asking, ‘Is our team okay?’ and maybe even ‘Is it there?’ When we were at the office, we could see each other’s eyes. We could see if someone was okay. And very suddenly, that all went away.”

The Power of AI-Driven Collaboration

As we’ve talked about many times within the TalentCulture community, the human connection isn’t all that went away. We also lost our connection to our company cultures. Guibert agreed, “We knew we needed to continue hiring and growing without the ability to live and breathe our culture. So, we at Globant set out to digitalize our culture.”

As Guibert admitted, this was a real challenge. “Soon, though, using AI-driven collaboration, we realized we had created a social operating system that allowed for a more human organization. One in which we each connect to more people. We get to know them better. And at the same time we create a lot of collective intelligence for the organization, which allows us to be more adaptable.”

A Human-Centered Operating System

Guibert went on to tell us exactly how Globant created this human-centered operating system. He also shared how AI plays a major role in creating a culture that inspires while also helping decide exactly what kind of organizational culture we want to build. The conversation, while it left my head spinning a bit, made me realize just how far we’ve come since the pandemic started and just how far we can still go. You don’t want to miss a minute of this episode of #WorkTrends!

We’re not done talking about AI-Driven collaboration yet, though. Please join us next Wednesday, October 7th at 1:30pm for a special #WorkTrends Twitter chat. During what is sure to be an inspiring conversation, Guibert and the Globant team will help us answer these questions:

Q1: Why do organizations struggle with team collaboration?

Q2: How can AI-driven tools help boost creativity?

Q3: How can leaders use AI-driven tools to boost company culture?

I’ll see you there!

 

Find Guibert Englebienne on Linkedin and Twitter.

 

This podcast was sponsored by Globant.

 

Editor’s note: #WorkTrends podcasts and also our Twitter chats have evolved to better meet your needs! For details, check the new FAQ page. And to see upcoming event topics and guests, check the calendar listing on the #WorkTrends Podcast page.

 

Edward Jenner

#WorkTrends: Transforming the Healthcare Benefits Experience

Now more than ever, employers feel a mandate to take good care of their people. And that responsibility is bigger than how best to empower a remote workforce. It is more complex than deciding the right time to bring them back on-site. Today, how we enable our employees to take care of themselves, and their loved ones, is a front and center issue.

You don’t want to miss a single episode of #WorkTrends… subscribe to the podcast now!

Are we providing the wellness benefits our employees need? Do they have access to the right providers? Is preventative care and testing available? How are employees making the decision on what plan to pick — and who is helping them make those decisions? And what kind of experience do we want our employees to have while choosing the right health plan, and providers, for them?

Healthcare Benefits: A Timely Conversation

This period just before open enrollment is not a great time for employees to be left without answers to these questions. So for this episode of @WorkTrends, I invited Justin Holland, CEO and Founder of Healthjoy, to shed some much-needed light on healthcare benefits.

In speaking with Justin, I learned how much healthcare has changed over the last few decades. I also discovered just how important it is to properly educate and enable employees before asking them to choose health benefits. “It’s really easy to run through an open enrollment presentation and forget about the impact of the decisions being made,” Justin said. “So our goal is to give employees the tools and framework they need to make the right decisions for them.”

Justin also confirmed how I have felt about open enrollment: That having a day or two to make major decisions just isn’t enough. “Open enrollment is obviously a very important time to educate employees on benefits. But there’s 364 other days a year they’re utilizing those benefits,” Justin said. “Our vision is that healthcare education be available at the right place at the right time. Because when a kid is sick at 2:00am and you’re going to the ER, chances are slim you’re going to remember what was said in that open enrollment meeting six months ago.”

Healthcare Education and Empowerment

Justin added: “Healthcare education and empowerment needs to be relevant during those touchpoints. At that moment, we’re all accountable — employee and employer, provider and platform — for the health and wellness of the family.”

During our conversation, Justin and I also talked about the rising cost of healthcare. We discussed how employers can provide healthcare benefits to freelancers and independent contractors. And we touched on how healthcare might look after the COVID-19 crisis is behind us. The timing of our conversation couldn’t be better. After all, chances are good your company is about to start an open enrollment period, or is considering a change to employee benefits for 2021. So please listen in!

Healthjoy sponsored this episode of #WorkTrends℠. And I’m so glad they did. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot from our 20 minutes or so together. I did!

 

Find Justin on Linkedin and Twitter.

 

Editor’s note: Have you heard about how #WorkTrends podcasts and Twitter chats are changing to better meet your needs? For details check the new FAQ page. Also, to see upcoming event topics and guests, check the new calendar listing on the #WorkTrends Podcast page.

 

Photo: Bethany Legg

Why You Should Recruit Introverts — and How

In this extrovert-biased world of ours, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Many job candidates aren’t making it past the hiring process to get the jobs they’re qualified for. The reality is that if introverts don’t interview in a bubbly, enthusiastic manner, they likely won’t make it to the next round. And if they don’t share their accomplishments with confidence and bravado, they’re likely to be overlooked for positions in which they would thrive. 

The costs to our organizations of this lost talent are staggering to consider. 

Yet, emerging evidence shows that the tide is turning. In a 2019 Workplace Survey of some 240 introverts, a promising 38% of respondents said their organizations demonstrated a willingness to hire and promote introverts. And as general awareness of introversion increases, it may become less of an exclusionary factor. 

Hiring a diverse workforce is just the first step. Companies must also do the work to create places where people of all temperaments feel included and experience a sense of belonging. When introverts can see many different pathways to success and opportunities to thrive, it’s more likely that they’ll stay in an organization and do their best work. 

Consider How Introversion Impacts The Job

In the hiring process, weigh whether personality actually makes a difference for the position. 

Susan Schmitt, group vice president and head of human resources at Applied Materials, says, “The main thing that matters on temperament: Is there any element of this person’s temperament, nature or behavior that will impair them in this particular role or a future role?” 

In essence, how might their temperament work for or against them in that particular role? Susan gave the example of a new hire that appeared to have low energy during the interview process. “She was somewhat slow in her responses, thoughtful and reflective, which led some interviewers to think she may not be right for the role. But her skills, knowledge, experience and education were super strong, and her capacity for complexity and conceptual capability were outstanding.” The team hired her. 

“This hire became a success story, and she ended up becoming a vice president. Had she been dinged for her low-affect personality in that first interview, think of the lost contributions,” remarked Susan. 

To ensure that people with introverted personality types are included and embraced within your organization, make certain that introversion is a key dimension of diversity within your larger talent management strategy. This would establish that an introverted candidate who didn’t come across as the kind of person an interviewer would “like to have a beer with” wouldn’t get shot down for that reason. After all, not every position requires a candidate to be great at after-work socializing, right? Furthermore, if everyone inside an organization knows the introvert-inclusive criteria for hiring and promotion, then they can build a stronger introvert-friendly culture throughout. 

Through hiring greater numbers of introverts and embracing all personality types in our organizations, we may one day reach a critical mass of introverts who are recognized, respected and heard for their wise and understated input.

How Can You Attract Great Introvert Talent?

Here are some ways to ensure that you cast the widest net and seriously consider introverts in all hiring decisions. 

  1. Give them a sense of what it’s like. How do potential recruits view your company? Ryan Jenkins, Millennial and Gen Z expert, says that companies need to manage their YouTube channels and make sure they offer people the experience of seeing what it is like to work for your company. Introverts, who like to research and spend time in reflection, will be looking to social media channels to figure out if they have a connection to your brand. You may never even see those potential introverted hires if you have a sparse online presence. 
  1. Create an introvert-friendly interview process. Integrate these three strategies: first, prep the room. Avoid blazing lights and noisy areas. Consider chair placement; sitting too close together can be off-putting for introverts who value personal space. If it’s a group interview, seat the candidate at the middle of the table rather than at its head, so the candidate feels less scrutinized and can make eye contact with everyone. 

Next, schedule adequate time. If you schedule yourself too tightly between interviews, you may feel pressured and impatient if the person doesn’t respond quickly enough, especially if you are an extrovert. Introverted candidates are likely to pause before answering questions, and you want to provide them with the time they need to fully express themselves. 

And finally, attend to energy levels. One hiring manager said that she noticed her more introverted candidates were “not the same people at the end of the day. They deflated without a chance for breaks with back-to-back interviews.” To avoid overwhelming the candidate, only put people on the interviewing schedules who are essential to the process. Consider breaking a packed interview schedule into two days. 

  1. Check your bias at the door. If you’re more extroverted, beware of projecting your bias about introverts onto the candidate by wishing they showed more emotion or visible energy. If you’re an introvert, you’re more likely comfortable with a slower pace and pauses, and the possible self-effacing manner of an introverted interviewee. Check yourself for confirmation bias — that is, the tendency to seek answers that support your case and point of view while minimizing other important responses. Diversify your pool of candidates by being open to everyone. 
  1. Employ paraphrasing. Reflecting back what you heard gives candidates a chance to modify or validate what they said. It also offers a needed pause for introverts so they can process what’s being said in a reflective way. Both introverts and extroverts will appreciate the chance to clarify their thoughts and round out their responses.
  1. Use AI tools (with caution). Using artificial intelligence screening is receiving more attention as one solution to reducing the costs of hiring and to promote more diversity. AI can allow you to cast a wider net and includes those with introverted temperaments who might not be considered in the initial screening process. Digital interviews record verbal and nonverbal cues of candidates and analyze them against position criteria. But many experts suggest using a slower approach rather than a full-scale adoption of these tools at this stage, as they can bear unintentional biases. 

To capture introvert talent, think beyond hiring (and promoting) for personality. It starts with checking your own temperament bias and valuing introverts in your talent management process. 

 

Photo: Berkeley Communications

The Contact Center Evolution Will be Remote

The pandemic has thrown nearly every industry into a state of rapid-fire transformation, and that includes contact centers. Chances are, nearly everyone reading this has reached a contact center and talked to an agent; during the pandemic, agents have become a direct and human — and welcome — point of contact. And if you’re an employee at a contact center, you’re likely experiencing a whole different way of working right now, on the virtual front lines, in some cases, and I have to say this directly: thank you for being there.  

Nearly overnight, as we launched into lockdown and work-from-home orders, the on-site call center had to be replaced by remote locations with agents and managers working from their homes. Given the high-touch, fast-moving, highly managed nature of call center work, would such a shift be successful? Given the traditional model of a call center workspace, would it work for agents to operate from home? 

According to a new report by Calabrio in collaboration with Ravel Research, the answer to both questions is yes. The just-released study surveyed contact center managers from a broad range of industries, in both the U.S and U.K., to find out what major changes the pandemic has caused for contact centers. Among the factors investigated: how the pandemic has created changing customer expectations, how it changes the dynamic of employee management, how viable remote working is for contact centers, and how business intelligence plays a role in customer-centricity, innovation and operations. 

Such are the issues we all need to focus on as we collectively make the leap from the way we used to work to the way we work now — and beyond. And the study found that overall, the shift to remote working has been good — it’s had a positive impact on engagement, performance and results among agents, as managers note. What’s so compelling to me is that this new, transformed landscape wasn’t hard to navigate at all. In fact, it’s made the job easier and the experience better for call center agents and managers in no less than five key areas:

 1. Remote Improves Performance and Satisfaction

It’s worth noting that pre-pandemic, some contact centers already had a remote component: 36% of contact centers had at least half of their employees working remotely. But with the onset of the pandemic, that number soared, with 89% of contact centers having at least 50% of their employees working remotely. While the shift was triggered by necessity, there has been a groundswell of approval on the part of agents. Necessity triggered the shift, but once agents settle into their remote roles, what’s clear is that many see it as an advantage. Call center managers believe 72% of agents are happy working remotely. 

As far as the positive impact on productivity, again, the numbers are in remote’s favor: 73% of managers surveyed express satisfaction with the productivity of employees now working remotely, and 85% are satisfied with employee productivity on account of flexible hours. Moreover, this is not just a passing fad: the adjustment is expected to stick. Citing remote’s benefits for employee satisfaction, service flexibility, and overall employee performance, 72% of managers say a remote environment is likely to continue in the long-term. It’s a clear sign that to many in this workforce, the changes were not only welcome, they may have been overdue. That’s a relief considering that across the country, reopening plans aren’t exactly going as, well, planned. We may have to shutter those back-to-the-workplace goals in favor of maintaining remote arrangements for everyone’s safety. The good news is that in terms of contact centers, that should not have a negative impact on how well agents are doing, or how they feel about their jobs.

2. An Emphasis on New Skills 

For countless employees, shifting to remote (as well as to flexible schedules) has also shifted the emphasis to new skills; the same is true for contact center agents. Managers in the study report that 49% of their employees are better at self-management, 42% have improved their problem-solving abilities, and 42% are better at both technology set-up and security awareness. 

Being a contact center agent has always required excellent soft skills — ask an agent what he or she thinks and I’d bet the answer is that these are hard-won, carefully developed, and endlessly practiced; they’re not really “soft” at all. But now add these three critical skills to the toolbox of abilities — soft or not — that call center agents need, such as clear communication, empathy, patience, attention to detail, and the ability to maintain a positive attitude, and you have the new paradigm for recruiting. It’s not just about being able to ‘give good phone,’ as they used to say, but now also about being able to stay on track no matter where an agent is working from. And again, this reflects the overall trend in remote working: we’re all learning how to balance, integrate, and think on our feet in a new context. The difference is that we don’t always have a customer on the other line, with urgency, possibly stress, and an increased need for our empathy, responsiveness and great service. 

 3. Evolved Training and Coaching

The Calabrio/Ravel survey also reveals that while training and coaching have been able to continue without too much interruption, there will be a greater need to develop new methods and leverage the shift to a virtual workspace. As their top three training resources, managers name video calls and web conferencing (53%); live online training classes (44%); and recorded online training classes (35%). More than half of managers anticipate that moving forward, they will inevitably be able to do less in-person, one-on-one training. 

From a talent development perspective, this is an immense possibility — to harness the remote environment to bring new modes of training and coaching to contact center hires. Virtual Reality could provide new hires with an experiential and impactful way to learn. Digital resources, such as mock scenarios that reflect larger social and behavioral changes, and other “walk in their shoes” approaches may help to mitigate concerns such as unconscious bias or help raise the threshold in terms of patience. By carefully crafting these to begin with, employees have a holistic but modern tool at their disposal. Another option: on-demand and self-service modules, speaking to people’s need for greater flexibility.  

4. Quality Evaluations and Predictive Analytics

Working in a vacuum is a common lament for remote employees. But there are certainly ways to counteract that sense of isolation — and an opportunity to increase feedback and coaching with digital tools. To improve brand impact and with a sense of increased customer urgency (a byproduct of life during a pandemic), managers have ramped up evaluations. According to the study: 1 in 3 contact centers have increased the number of quality evaluations of customer interactions. And while it’s true that evaluations can be a thorn in a manager’s side if done entirely manually, in this case managers are getting smart, leveraging digital tools to ease the heavier load. 44% of managers are using predictive analytics and/or automated quality monitoring. These tools are boosting their effectiveness when it comes to agent coaching, speeding up the process and promoting responsiveness in real time. Being able to spot key trends for the full 100% of interactions means that manual evaluations can be far more targeted. And managers are freed from the traditional reliance of “walking the floor” in favor of a smoother and more fluid agent development process.  

Is this the wave of the future? Managers’ responses on this may be an indication: only 30% think quality evaluations will be the same as they were before and 27% believe they will be doing more evaluations. Yet clearly, some are more forward-thinking than others: 20% believe they will be seeing more automated quality monitoring, and 19% say they will be using more analytics. What this speaks to, from my perspective, is that these tools are on the horizon for some, and already in use for others. And instead of seeing tools like automation or predictive analytics as a norm, managers may see it as a stopgap, envisioning a point when things get “back to normal,” and they can go back to how they conducted evaluations before. That may indicate a gap in perception: these are the same managers who believe remote contact centers will continue into the future; and sentiment around predictive analytics and automation will likely grow. We’ll see how this plays out.

5. New Technologies Offer New Opportunities

The new technologies coming to contact centers are having a profound impact on employee as well as manager experience, and offering new opportunities for support as well as growth. The old adage: If you build it, they will come, applies to a call center — and as we’ve seen as we pivot to remote, instead of agents and managers coming to a physical workspace, now remote innovations are coming to them. The survey asked its respondents: How have your contact center’s investments changed in the following areas, because of the pandemic? Not surprisingly, the biggest investments are in remote working solutions (65%); video conferencing tools (62%); and then, expanded channels for customer communication (52%). All are helping to modernize the manager and agent experience. And it may or may not be a kind of workplace irony to have a human call agent aided by a chatbot or virtual assistance, but these are not as high on the list. 

What is markedly on the rise is business intelligence (BI). A full 90% of respondents say they are maintaining or increasing their investment in BI solutions. And contact managers expect a higher demand for contact analytics to come from every department. We’re going to see call centers increasingly rely on data and more accurate reporting to better assess performance and set strategy — yet another sign that digital tools are leading the evolution. For a remote workforce, BI knits together people, interactions and operations in real time, allowing for a far greater sense of the big picture, elevated flexibility when it comes to key questions asked, and an increased sense of connection between individual effort and overall results.

None of these developments are going to take the place of human connection, however. The rationale behind grabbing the brass ring of better and better technologies is as a means to improve the interactions between agents and customers — by enabling agents to better do their job, from training to maintaining their performance. That includes the interactive dashboards being used by some call centers to provide agents with real-time data on how they’re doing. Designed to answer the questions an individual agent might ask, these provide a graphic as well as numeric scoreboard they can continue to monitor to track their own improvements. 

Self-accountability and a sense of personal stake in excellence may turn out to be our best asset of all. For agents and managers in call centers, these traits are clearly driving the evolution as much as any external forces — and pointing to an overall growth in workplace culture we may not have expected, but as the Calabrio/Ravel survey shows, it’s happening right now.

To find out more, download the study.

This post is sponsored by Calabrio.

Photo: Josh Calabrese

Empathy, Action: What HR Can Do Now

Recently I published an article on Forbes.com about the elephant in the room. It was one of those pieces I had to do. I had to go out on a limb and just say it

We talk about diversity all the time — and on TalentCulture we’ve published many articles on improving diversity and inclusion. One offered seven tips on “managing diversity” in the workplace, and included wisdom from people working on the front lines of diversity, including diversity and inclusion consultant and author La’Wana Harris and Amy Cappellanti-Wolf, CHRO at Symantec. The post listed ways to improve more than manage, including building pipelines to more diverse talent, and letting go of seeing diversity not as a state of being but a buzzword. The step that struck me the most was examining policies to root out systemic inequality. As Harris noted, “Workplace policies, systems and processes can disproportionately impact historically marginalized populations.”

Of course, she’s right. But what strikes me now is that she didn’t put it in the past tense then, and it wouldn’t be in the past tense now. Between that post and the article on Forbes is the better part of a year, and a lot has happened to say the least. We’ve witnessed the murder of African-Americans at the hands of police and learned of one in which she was killed in her house, in her bed, and by mistake. You don’t usually see me get into these kinds of details, but the circumstances are so shocking I think they bear repeating, and repeating again. And we’ve seen — and millions have participated in — some 21 days and counting of protests spurred by outrage. 

AI and VR: Tools for Fairness

The one piece of good news is that we are being forced to reckon with that elephant. And the elephant for everyone in HR is this: we can’t improve diversity with any kind of commitment and intent if we don’t first address racism. And by addressing racism, I mean working as hard as we can to undo it in our own workplaces. It means looking hard at what we produce and offer, and asking whether it’s helping or not. IBM recently put the brakes on its facial recognition program. As CEO Arvind Krishna said, “We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.” He went on to note that AI systems need to be subject to far more scrutiny regarding bias. And that’s something that’s come up again and again, in a hiring context, on this site.

Is that where we start? We actively celebrate technology on TalentCulture: we just wrapped the HR Tech Awards for 2020, and among the many innovations there’s certainly AI. Another innovation that came up recently is VR, and I had a fascinating discussion on a recent #WorkTrends with clinical psychologist Robin Rosenberg about how VR can help radically improve empathy among diverse work teams. The podcast focused not just on diversity but on work culture as a whole — but it’s the potential to decrease unconscious bias, microaggressions and intolerance that stays with me. If we can put on a headset and literally experience what that feels like to someone else, maybe it should be part of everyone’s training — make it a required component of onboarding or skill development.  

Undoing the Status Quo

Do I expect my clarion call on Forbes to have an affect? Perhaps it will. Sometimes a post goes viral for reasons completely beyond our control, as when I talked about emotional intelligence and leadership just when EQ was getting on our radar, or more recently, when I predicted the key trends we’d see in 2020. (I’m lucky to have great readers, and grateful.) In the trends article, I mentioned a shift to tending rather than managing our workforce, advocated for leaning harder on AI for recruiting so long as it was programmed without bias, and pointed out that more of us would be working remotely. But that was written well before the pandemic threw up all into a tailspin, or survival mode, or just home, before the nation exploded, and before it became clear that we tend to stay entrenched in our own status quo. 

But we can’t accept the status quo anymore, and this is the opportunity to snap out of it. I wasn’t surprised when 63% of respondents to our June 3 newsletter survey said they’d experienced racism in the workplace either directed at themselves (39.7%) or a coworker (23.8%). But I was shocked to find out that less than 5% had reported it. HR, I’m looking at you.

HR Has a Role to Play

So let’s have real conversations about the bias that may be stuck within our work cultures (conscious or unconscious). Let’s push back against complacency or just inertia when it comes to examining and improving workplace policies. Let’s keep asking the hard questions — we just ran a follow-up survey question this week, asking who is now having discussions about racism among their coworkers. I’m very interested in those results. I’d like to challenge the top innovators to find the best means to systematically detach AI from potential bias. I’d like to know who’s reviewing accounts of unfair treatment in their workplace, and having a new reckoning to set things right. 

In the end, every business will be better and more sustainable in the future if it works to be more equitable, diverse, and fair in the present. Knowledge is power, as we well know. And HR is a field that wants to evolve — and indeed, it can’t stop evolving. We’re made for this. So let’s get to it.

Photo: Andy Kelly

#WorkTrends: The AI-Powered Leadership Coach

If there’s a silver lining to this global pandemic, it may be that we’re all getting a lot more familiar with AI, data and AI-driven analysis. When researchers and policy makers explain the forecasting changes based on a constant influx of new data, we get it. We even have our own favorite go-tos: Poynter, NYT, and Muck Rack among them. 

So when Meghan M. Biro and WorkTrends’ guest Kevin Kruse sat down to talk about the future of work and life, they both touched on the universal sense — at least within HR — that our predictions about leaning on digital tools in the near future are coming true in a way we never could have anticipated. Kevin is the founder and CEO of LEADx — which created the digital leadership tool, Coach Amanda. He’s also passionate about how innovation can improve work cultures. 

Discussing how he saw AI’s potential as a coaching tool, he told Meghan, “I’ve been writing some articles just like everybody around — top tips for leading remote teams … the same tips for leading the teams if they were in the office. It’s just more important than ever before, you know, having a cadence of communication, having authentic leadership, caring about your people.” In other words, it may be a machine, but it has to take a human approach.

Meghan asked him whether or not he thought AI coaches could replace humans. In some cases, Kevin noted, they’re providing coaching for organizations that don’t have the resources or the bandwidth to provide human trainers. But in other cases, they’re a tool that works right alongside — adding value to the leadership already happening. What AI-driven digital leadership coaching provides is a whole platform that covers a lot of bases, including starting someone on their own leadership coaching journey. Coach Amanda is virtually human and an “accountability buddy,” added Kruse, giving others access to the tools they need to become natural leaders themselves.

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode. 

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do many organizations struggle with leadership coaching? #WorkTrends
Q2: How can AI tools help develop leaders? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to help organizations develop better leadership coaching? #WorkTrends

Find Kevin Kruse on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Omar Flores

#WorkTrends: AI, VR, and the Internal Communication Revolution

We’re all suffering from both information overload and information under-load right now. As companies struggle to communicate with their employees and navigate a global health crisis, one thing is crystal clear: communication is rarely as clear and effective as we’d like it to be. In today’s workplace, it’s a challenge we need to overcome yesterday — even in the best of circumstances. But given what’s unfolding, it’s more critical than ever – and could even mean the difference between putting employees at-risk and keeping them safe. 

Meghan M. Biro brought internal communications expert Shel Holtz to #WorkTrends to talk about how to do it better. Shel has been involved in internal communications for decades — and recalled how he’d thought he’d invented the intranet for a moment back in the 90s. But fact is, he’s a pioneer who helps many organizations understand that communication is a whole new ball game now (one that’s not canceled). While countless organizations threw everything into their intranet, that was then. We don’t process or seek information the way we used to — and companies should take a lesson from media outlets.

As Shel said, “The intranet emerged during a day when people were surfing the web and it was new and interesting and fun. But these days people tend to be very task-oriented sitting down at a web page. Otherwise, they’re reading and engaging on their phones. You have to meet people where they are. If you think about the major media outlets… they have their website, but also the app, and a podcast, and they’re tweeting and letting people on Facebook know about the articles they’ve read. We have to adopt this kind of consumer-grade mentality around getting content out to people.”

That also means using technology to better communicate — AI helps drive talk-to-text and transcription apps, powers chatbots, and more. But it can also reveal trends and issues we may miss. Shel recalled a company diversity initiative involving internal referrals that wasn’t getting any traction among employees whatsoever. No one could figure out why. An AI tool was able to find the reason by sifting through all the discussions and emails — and the organization was able to course-correct, clarify, and make the program successful. 

Meghan pointed out that the key to assuring that AI doesn’t cause unease among employees is being upfront about it all. “If we’re being truthful, and transparent with our employees, they are going to appreciate this, and be more likely to adopt and adjust.” We all want a way to do our work better — and that includes how we communicate. But in the end, we can’t be operating behind a curtain, no matter what tools we use. It’s not just how we say it – or being “tool-centric,” as Shel added. It’s about what we say.

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode. 

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do many brands struggle with internal communications?  #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can improve our strategic communication? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to help organizations improve internal communication? #WorkTrends

Find Shel Holtz on Linkedin and Twitter

 

The Age of the Super-Recruiter

An Interview with Sanjoe Jose, CEO and Cofounder of Talview

The challenges in hiring span from finding the right talent to finding the technology to help make successful hires. And we’ve seen an incredibly fast-paced phase of innovation in the field. At the forefront are leaders like Sanjoe Tom Jose, cofounder and CEO of Talview.

Sanjoe is passionate about making hiring easier with cutting-edge AI and machine learning-based technologies. He’s also likely one of the rare innovators who turned down an offer from Google to strike out on his own. Instead, he built Talview — which stands for ‘talent view.’ The firm’s Instahiring Experience platform is the first to bring the one-click consumer experience to a hiring context, radically shortening an organization’s time-to-hire. 

We talked about how AI can be leveraged to transform the whole hiring journey, about his thoughts on the market, and why certain hiring teams are AI-averse — despite the fact that given today’s talent race, recruiting needs, and deserves, a real shot in the arm.

What market problems are you trying to solve?

In speaking with our customers, hiring lag or a long hiring process is their biggest challenge. Businesses always need talent as soon as possible. But hiring lag also impacts other key hiring metrics — such as Quality of Hire, since the best candidates are only available in the market for ten days. This is especially critical in the gig economy, where companies can’t spend 2 months to hire someone who might only be employed for 6-12 months. Long hiring processes and not being able to provide remote functions also impact the Candidate Experience: 57% of candidates drop out of the hiring funnel due to a long hiring process. Companies also need a way to showcase their culture, values, and expectations to candidates before they’re hired, as it will help new hires ramp up quicker.

In your view, how is the candidate experience broken?

The back-and-forth process between employer and employee can easily become slow and confusing due to the time it takes to screen and select the best resumes, contact the candidate, arrange an interview time that suits both parties, and organize for someone to conduct

the interview. It’s not just a lack of speed that’s hurting businesses’ hiring process, either. The quality of the candidate’s experience as they go through the different stages of the funnel is also suffering at the hands of inefficient and aging recruitment practices. Job applicants are often forced to take off work to make multiple trips to attend interviews in person, and once they’re in the final stages, an offer can take weeks. A poor candidate experience also means applicants drop out of the funnel, and they’re less likely to reapply to the same company in the future.

Let’s talk a bit about solutions. How can technology fix some of these problems? 

In our own firm, we base solutions on three propellers: Remote, Automate, and Reuse. Generally, organizations need to be able to complete screening assessments and interviews online — they should not have to rely on physical face to face, especially if the best talent is remote. This can be done through live and recorded modes, saving candidates as well as recruiters immense time while both parties are still deciding if there’s a good fit.

And there are so many routine recruitment processes that are still completed by humans when they could be automated, such as screening resumes and scheduling interviews. Automating these processes frees up recruiters ’so they can spend time on far more value-adding activities,such as conducting final-stage interviews. And automation should be able to function round the clock, so candidates don’t have to wait to hear back from recruiters, and their questions can be answered immediately by a chatbot. 

Finally, recruiters and candidates as well need a way of streamlining the process when this is a repeat applicant. That means recording all application and interview data — so it’s available to reuse when a candidate reapplies to work for the same organization, and they can be fast-forwarded to the relevant stage. There’s no reason they should have to go through those assessments and interviews they already completed when they applied previously. Reuse just makes it easier.

How do you leverage AI and machine learning in your platform? What phases are you using AI and ML for in terms of the hiring journey? Is it end to end?

Yes — we’ve leveraged AI and ML to automate and drive more insights — all the way from the top of the hiring funnel right through to the moment of hire. From the start of the process, these technologies are used to screen resumes, derive additional insights from interviews and expertly match candidates to their ideal roles. As the candidate goes through each step from the location of their choice, computer vision is leveraged to authenticate their identity and administer multiple variety of skill based assessments. During the interview process, the technology assists hiring managers in conducting an objective interview — by building a behavioral profile of the candidate that leverages speech recognition and natural language processing, and giving suggestions as to areas hiring managers should probe from a non-technical skills standpoint. With companies struggling to assess soft skills accurately, these kinds of behavioral reports help companies hone in on communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills.

Do you think organizations can benefit more from recruiting platforms that are all-in-one inclusive?  

I do. While there are many pinpointed solutions that impact one or two steps in the hiring process, disparate systems can pose problems for enterprises, such as time-consuming, inefficient data entry and reconciliation processes. It’s more effective to have a seamless experience. Inefficiencies can lead to user dissatisfaction for all parties involved. And while some organizations do try to integrate disparate systems themselves, the performance is far from optimal and adds major overhead. We wanted to be enable the true digitization of hiring, and provide a platform that could be integrated with any of the leading Applicant Tracking Systems. I think that’s the kind of solution both sides want — the candidates as well as the hiring teams.  

My last question: What would you say to companies that are reluctant to shift to AI and machine learning for recruiting and hiring?

AI offers significant benefits while applied in the recruiting process, and hence is bound to become a significant part of every organization’s recruiting strategy sooner or later. AI can be leveraged to automate a lot of mundane tasks recruiters today perform — like matching a resume to the job description and scheduling of an interview. It enables recruitment teams to become true strategists and candidate experience champions, and ensure the best candidates join their organizations. It would be wiser for teams to leverage the benefits of AI and become super-recruiters than to get left behind.

To learn more about Talview, visit Talview.com.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in the Hiring Process

As artificial intelligence evolves, we’re going to increasingly rely on it for boosting the hiring process. In Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, author Max Tegmark asserts that the “rise of AI has the potential to transform our future more than any other technology.” So it is, as we already see in hiring. AI is already saving HR teams time and money while attracting the best candidates in these key ways:

Solving the Sourcing Process

A recent study found that 46 percent of companies struggle with finding and attracting the right candidates for their open positions. AI programs can search online resumes and social profiles to find the best candidates for each job based on specific traits. They can also relay personalized messages to promising candidates and do it in scale — something human recruiters could not do alone. 

AI is being taught to overcome human biases during sourcing and screening. The key is teaching the program on data that presents as gender-neutral and training it to ignore other identifying information that might trigger biased decisions. An organization may end up with a pool of applicants far more diverse than if the HR team itself had sourced them.

Enhancing Employee Experience

Once your AI program sources and contacts candidates, AI can lead them through the recruiting funnel quickly and efficiently, ensuring the candidate experience goes smoothly.  Recruiter chatbots can provide real-time answers to candidate questions, offer quick feedback and suggest next steps. They can provide links to promising job descriptions, clarify company hours and location, and schedule interviews. 

Having a good experience during this phrase is a big deal, as is borne out in a study by CareerBuilder: 58 percent of candidates are likely to have a negative opinion of a company if they never get a response to their job application.67 percent are likely to have a favorable view of the company if they get frequent updates after they applied. Instead of dead air, a chatbot fills the space — and furthers the process.

Screening Boosts

AI-powered conversational tools can also give the screening process a boost. Since these tools are always learning, they’re ideal for when going back for a second look at candidates who applied in the past. AI tools can store essential data on all applicants, saving time and effort when you’re ready to reach out to them again. Companies that use AI tools have reduced their cost per screening by 75 percent.

Using technology to screen talent also saves time and effort for candidates. When CVS Health began using the Virtual Job Tryout assessment, it was looking for an automated screening tool to shortlist candidates quickly. The company processes over one million applicants per year: saving time on the hiring process is critical to the recruiting team. 

By offering job simulation inside hiring platforms, CVS enabled  candidates to virtually try out some of the tasks in a potential position. Depending on their performance, they might be invited  go proceed to the next step in the recruiting process. Or they might decide the position wasn’t a good fit, saving themselves and the company time. CVS Health found this tool screened out half a million applicants right away, saving 40 years of hiring manager time.  The tool also brought a measurable improvement in performance, training, new hire retention, and operational outcomes.

Assistance with Interviewing

AI in HR provides a simple way not only to reach out to possible candidates, but also screen, rank, and shortlist their resumes based on the traits most relevant to your company. Then, once you have a list of people you’d like to interview, the chatbot can act as the scheduler.

Certain AI tools can also help you conduct a later-stage virtual interview before inviting a candidate to come in person. Conducting a video interview with preset questions, you can run an AI program to analyze candidates’ facial expressions, tone of voice, mannerisms, and word choice. 

This technology will make it more likely you’ll end up with new employees who fit your company culture, which is why major brands like Google, Facebook, and Apple have been using this technology for years. And now even more companies use it, including Capital One, Allstate, ThredUp, Hilton, and AT&T. 

Onboarding

AI is also improving onboarding procedures — by, for instance, automating repetitive or tedious tasks like conducting background checks, putting together documents about benefits, and creating offer letter templates. AI can also help organize, print, and deliver all onboarding paperwork. 

The same can be said of training documents — another time-consuming step when the HR team has to do it manually. Instead, AI-powered tools can ensure all new employees receive copies of the paperwork that spells out company policies and log-in information.They can track when documents have been read, prompt an electronic signature, and schedule meetings to go over the information further when necessary. 

And all can happen 24/7 from anywhere, which means employees can start training or getting answers to their questions any time and from any device. It also allows the HR department to focus on tasks that cannot be automated or done outside of business hours. 

Why Use AI in HR?

From sourcing and screening candidates to interviewing and onboarding, AI is undeniably changing HR’s capabilities. A report from Deloitte in 2017 notes that 38 percent of survey respondents believed AI would be widely used at their company within three to five years. In 2018, that number rose to 42 percent,. It’s still climbing.  

72 percent of executives believe AI will offer significant business advantages in the coming years, while a LinkedIn study found that 76 percent of hiring managers believe AI will be at least somewhat important in the future. As Eric Sydell, EVP of Innovation at Modern Hire, summed it up, “AI is a perfect way to recruit the best talent that will excel at your company, as it uses huge volumes of data to predict outcomes better than any person can. Not only does AI save HR departments time, but it also gives candidates some insight into whether they even want the job.” 

 

 

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How AI Is Making the Employee Experience Better Than Ever

If you’re in HR, you’ve undoubtedly heard two buzzwords as much or more than any others in the past few years: AI and employee experience.

They’re topics we often link to automation — after all, the employee experience is a lot better when you’re freed from tedious, repetitive processes. But AI is actually improving the employee experience in other ways that are often overlooked.

We spoke with two leading AI experts about a few ways AI is making the employee experience better than ever.

AI Is Expanding Voice-Controlled Interfaces

Let’s consider employee experience for a moment. A large part of the focus centers on creating a more “consumerized” approach to the relationship between employee and employer — essentially to treat the employee like a customer. Employees are also looking to bring their most authentic selves to work. The days of being a different person at home and at the office are over.

In order to bridge this gap between our professional and public selves, organizations have begun to think about the way employees use technology, mirroring the way we use it at home. Many of us are used to talking to Siri or Alexa, and organizations are in the process of embracing voice-powered AI to create a better employee experience. “This is becoming very mainstream,” says Emily He, senior vice president of marketing, human capital management, at Oracle. “People want to use a conversational style to engage with their application.”

In terms of automation, voice interfaces will provide the same convenience they do for us when we want to hear “Despacito” — except that now employees can use voice to assist with tasks that have a bit more import. For example, “Expense reports approval is a really cumbersome process,” He says. “Now, with the AI app, I can say, ‘Approve all expense reports below a certain amount.’ ”

AI Is Driving Internal Talent Mobility

Jeanne Meister is the founder of Future Workplace, an HR research and advisory firm that offers a popular course, AI 4 HR. She says that AI will be a massive boon for internal talent mobility. “Companies are doing everything they can to keep the people they have,” she says.

Meister says organizations have begun to have employees create what is essentially an internal LinkedIn profile. In these profiles, employees can share personal information, credentials and other relevant information that allows AI to match them with potential promotions. “Sometimes it’s jobs that the individual may not have thought about themselves,” she says. “This gives the employee working inside the company the opportunity to understand how their skills plus their aspirations can lead to a new internal position.”

And if an employee isn’t quite ready for a new position? The AI has the ability to recommend courses and training programs, bringing a more personalized form of talent development to the employee experience, Meister says.

AI Is Streamlining and Improving the Hiring Process

It’s important to remember that the employee experience always begins with the candidate experience.

Many organizations have begun to use chatbots as part of recruiting, and they’re beginning to see results. Both He and Meister point to Hilton’s success in this area. The hotel chain began using chatbots in 2015, and the program has shown marked results, Meister says. “They have increased their net promoter score for the candidate experience to 80%” — and also increased the diversity of the talent pool, she says.

Most impressive, though, is how chatbots have sped up Hilton’s recruiting process, she says. “Their recruiters are offering 85 more jobs per week than they were previously,” Meister says.

To learn more about AI and how it’s powering modern HR organizations, check out our AI for HR guide.

Why You Need To Start Training Your Recruiting Teams for AI-Related Hiring

AI is here to stay. You are going to need to hire AI talent no matter what your industry is — and now is the time to start preparing your organization to do that effectively and efficiently. It’s just not going to happen on its own.

Once upon a time in recent history, businesses made the switch to PCs, email, networks, the Web — and experts in information technology became vital for any company. Now we’re racing headlong into another evolution as AI transforms business applications. We’re going to need people who are experts in AI. It’s that simple.

Even if you don’t know you’re going to be hiring AI architects, AI product managers, software engineers and AI ethicists, assume that you will. We all know that innovations don’t wait. They just happen, and it’s up to us to be there.

It’s best to accept that AI will be a part of how your business functions, if it’s not already, and start planning your investment in AI-skilled hires now. You don’t want to wind up with a substantial hole in your roster or your operations due to all the talent being snapped up. Here are three steps to take now to start preparing for the robot revolution.

Start Training and Building Infrastructure Around AI

AI, machine learning and big data are all transformative tools, which means your recruiting team needs specialized training in how to effectively hire for positions related to these technologies.

Or, take it a step further and consider AI-dedicated recruiting teams. We’re already grappling with recruiting, hiring and retention. Most HR teams are still mired in day-to-day tasks that should not still be on their plates — not when there are countless new platforms and service providers who can take over.

A team that’s dedicated to recruiting for AI roles is going to have to be very fast and very efficient. It will also need to be extremely focused in terms of pinpointing the hard skills and training for a specific AI job position — and also very smart about identifying and discerning the right soft skills. It will need to make sure the outward-facing materials are truly aligned with the organization and free of bias.

One way to accomplish this is to redesign the recruiting team so they’re not all looking for talent, but are instead more task-oriented, so the focus is divided among people and hopefully speaks to their strengths. Here are a few possible recruiting functions that could pop up in the very near future.

A Q&A czar — This person or team is the landing point for questions the chatbot sends to a human (please have a human on hand to answer questions as well as chatbots).

Initial pre-screening — This function works with cognitive assessment and screening tools to identify the best potential candidates in terms of both hard skills and soft skills

Skills specialist — Once the first tier of potential candidates is identified, this function takes a much closer look at the technical and functional hard skills, then assesses key soft skills such as problem solving and situational challenges that match each candidate better with the requirements of specific jobs.

The decision team — This team combines all the information and feedback on each candidate and takes it to the next level in terms of a hire. They’re also the team that interfaces with the hiring organization.

Let the Chatbots Help with Recruiting

As we head toward filling AI roles, here’s an irony: Our concerns about machine learning and AI may hurt ourselves even more in the next few years. Tighten up your recruiting and hiring processes with automation, self-service, and other future-facing tools. Let the chatbots help. It will free your team to ramp up on how to find the best AI talent — how to screen for training, skill sets and experience.

We need to be better and smarter about how we recruit, hire and manage our hard-won talent. Many of us are looking at the solutions presented by machine learning and AI. It’s not that I want you to lift the needle off that record. But no one wants to be caught off guard, waltzing to the possibilities of sentiment analysis and virtual teams, while your competitors are searching for tech talent to fill their brand-new AI-related jobs.

We need to make sure we’re still in control of the hiring process, but that doesn’t mean rejecting innovative technologies because we feel like they’re too opaque. Automation and self-service are vital for today’s candidates — this is how they interact with all the other aspects of their life, and it has to be part of the candidate experience just as it’s part of the consumer experience.

They also provide a far better and clearer picture of how candidates are responding, and how they’re behaving during the recruiting and hiring process — vital information that helps HR departments learn and improve.

Get Outside Help If Necessary

If you can’t train up your team, bring in reinforcements. You need specialized experts on board who know the difference between Hadoop and PySpark — just a for instance. You also need to know where to find AI talent, how to attract them, how to get them to say yes, and then, how to keep them.

Consultants are one way to do it because hiring for AI roles is not in everyone’s wheelhouse and requires very specialized awareness of training, tech and tasks. Bringing in outside services are another: use the tools developed and administered by organizations that are highly advanced in background screening, in self-service platforms, in video interviewing channels, in tools that can be integrated with your existing hiring software.

Companies that are smaller and not entrenched in AI are not necessarily going to want to do this alone. They’re also not going to have the resources to commit to automation or self-service tools. But those tools are vital, and your organization is going to have to integrate them one way or another in the coming years.

#WorkTrends: How AI Will Change HR

We have big news this week in the #WorkTrends community. We’re re-launching the podcast, and we’re welcoming back an old friend, Kevin W. Grossman, as my #WorkTrends co-host. We’re also changing up our format. Each episode of #WorkTrends will now include a quick look at what’s happening in the world of HR tech, plus interviews with people who are doing interesting work in HR and leadership.

On this week’s episode we’re talking everything AI — what it really means, what HR leaders need to know and how it’s going to reshape the way we work. For a look at where artificial intelligence and automation are already taking HR, we’re turning to my friend and expert Ben Eubanks, an analyst at Lighthouse Research as well as a podcaster, blogger and author of a forthcoming book on artificial intelligence in HR.

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

AI for Recruiting

Over the past several years AI has transcended its status as a cultural buzzword and found its way into practical applications for many HR leaders. Eubanks says the most prominent AI use case in HR is probably on the recruiting side, because of the sheer size of the problem that talent acquisition presents for large organizations. Chatbots are already enabling companies to take on some conversations with candidates without having to have a recruiter physically sitting in front of them.

“The more volume there is, the easier it is to try to automate that and more value there is,” he says. “When I was interviewing someone for the book, we were talking about what things you should prioritize, and they said if it’s got a high volume and there’s a high cost of making an error, those are the things you really want to automate.”

Improving the Candidate Experience

Eubanks says his discussions with HR leaders indicate the initial reaction by candidates to these types of automations in recruiting has been surprisingly positive. Candidates seem to be appreciative of any chance to break through the often-opaque job-search process and have a chance to have their voices heard — even if it’s by a piece of software.

He says one manager told him candidates often go through a dialogue with a bot about their desired positions, submit their resume, then say “thank you” before signing off. “Candidates love it, because they have a chance to really feel like someone is listening to them,” he says.

Sentiment Analysis

Beyond recruitment, Eubanks says there are already a handful of companies successfully leveraging intelligent automation to perform sentiment analysis to suss out valuable trends in large employee surveys — a process that would take humans hours upon hours.

“What if we had a tool, a piece of technology, that would automatically go through that, not just look at what the issues are, what the trends are, but also look at the sentiment, the underlying emotions and moods of the employees?” he says. “You find out, ‘wait a minute, all the people in this function over here are actually kind of upset’ — or ‘people that are working in this office, this location, are actually having some issues with infrastructure or management or communication.’ ”

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Let’s continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific, or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

How AI Makes Hiring More Accurate and More Personal

AI is projected to catapult from a $643.7 million market today to $36.8 billion by 2025. Bersin by Deloitte calls it one of the ten major trends changing everything about how we build and manage the world of work. It’s becoming an incredibly powerful tool for recruiting, though not always understood. There are two questions I often hear:

How can we use AI to better match skills to openings?

How can we use AI to make the entire recruiting and hiring journey better, and improve candidate experience?

Before delving into specifics, consider this: Essentially, if A, then B. Just as AI is changing the game, we have to change how we see it: it’s a tool with multiple benefits at once. In other words: if we are better at sourcing the talent to find those with the right skills to match the right job opening, then the candidate experience will be better.

In this regard, AI is a positive disruption that not only improves how we find candidates, but how they experience the process of being found. All along the recruiting journey it works faster and more efficiently by profound degrees. And at the same time it has a tremendous impact on candidate experience. Let’s look at common pain points to recruiters and candidates and see how AI improves the outcome:

Recruiter Pain Point: Too Many Applications

A common pain point among recruiters is the sheer onslaught of digital applications — whether or not an applicant is actually qualified, with the required skills. We can’t put too fine a point on this: Job seekers spend an average of 49.7 seconds reading a job description, and 14.6 seconds of that is spent on the actual requirements of the job. Then, many just hit send. According to Glassdoor, each corporate job offer attracts 250 resumes on average. Of those, four to six are called for an interview — and one gets the job. Getting from 250 resumes and 4 to 6 callbacks per job is a whole lot of sorting.

AI Solution: Finding Soft Skills

AI can use pattern matching to connect the dots between job requirements and the skills and training listed on a resume. Machine learning means that AI can also get better at this the more it works, from building a bank of alternate phrases and variations it recognizes to tailoring its rankings to factor in other criteria. And AI can find soft skills just as quickly as hard skills. For instance, consider Arya: this new AI recruiting platform learns who the ideal candidate is through a combination of machine learning, big data and behavioral pattern recognition.

AI Solution: Assessing Fit

AI can also take an extremely educated and predictive guess about how a candidate may do in the long term, addressing concerns about ROI without bias. AI can use past hiring and employee records and patterns to get a clearer picture of the relative success and fit of a hire — and can identify potential blind spots of training gaps, enabling companies to put the services in place that support a better outcome.

Candidate Pain Point: an Overlong Application Process

Let’s face it: the digital environment has changed many job applicants’ perception of time. To a candidate in this digital environment, hours feel like days and days like weeks. Time, particularly for digital native generations, has shrunk — and the etiquette of responding to a message has radically changed. This is just one point of friction out of many in terms of how a candidate experiences the application process today. A delay in getting notified can feel like a rejection even if it’s not.

But while recruiters famously spend an average of 6 seconds reading a resume, finding the right hire for one job may take more than 20 hours. (And rare indeed is the recruiter tasked with filling one job at a time.) The wait — particularly if a candidate has been contacted by an organization’s hiring team — can feel like a hurry up and wait hustle, and may sour a candidate experience. Whether the result is a turn towards a different employer, or simply an element of disengagement in the process, it can stop a recruiter-candidate relationship before it starts. But recruiters simply don’t have the time or, most often, the person power to contact every applicant every step of the way.

AI Solution: Recruiters Don’t Do the Heavy Lifting

Allocating the heavy data sorting to AI frees more time for reading the resumes that actually matter. It means that unqualified candidates can be notified faster, and qualified candidates are really qualified — and the recruiter has had more time to spend getting to know them on paper before an interview. But additionally, AI can work as the messenger. For example, when a promising candidate is found with the qualifications and skills that match, Arya can reach out with a personalized message. If a candidate is interested, the connection has already been made — and a recruiter can take it from there. Instead of radio silence, there’s AI at work for you.

The myth that AI-powered recruiting is impersonal and inaccurate is just that: a misassumption about the power of AI. With the ability to greatly increase searches to radically cut down on searching time, as well as a way to reach out and develop a talent pipeline, AI enables recruiters to get back to what they know how to do best: spend time getting to know promising candidates, and find the best fit for each job. And for candidates, AI enables frequent contact and a faster process that improves their experience — and may just affect their decision to join your organization.

This post is sponsored by Leoforce.

5 Ways AI Makes Hiring Easier

It’s one thing to see AI coming our way in HR. It’s another thing to know the best ways to harness it to improve sourcing and hiring success. AI isn’t just on the horizon — it’s part of some very forward-thinking recruiting and hiring programs already. Given how tight the job market is, AI is a way to give organizations a tangible edge on the competition. It facilitates a far more accurate way to see a far greater range and depth of talent — which means it’s easier to find better candidates — and more of them. And AI enables hiring teams to make and maintain radically better connections with talent, garner a far better sense of fit over a whole spectrum of criteria and frankly, be more human than we’ve been in a long time.

There’s no reason for any organization to shy away from AI’s capability — whether a big Silicon Valley firm or a small and lean startup. And leveling the playing field and reaching the same candidates as a larger organization, let alone a direct competitor, is just a matter of knowing how to use AI.

So, we decided to break down AI into five best practices along the hiring journey. We’re using a hypothetical hiring team we’re calling Talent Inc. to look at the five critical phases of talent acquisition, and how Talent Inc. draws on AI for tremendous advantages that result in better hires. This is an approach any hiring team can take:

Finding Talent

Our ambitious recruiting team at Talent Inc. has been tasked with sourcing 250 new hires for a growing company. These are positions from entry-level to senior management, covering a whole range of functions. Talent Inc.’s objective is to stretch their reach as far as possible to find the largest pool of talent they can. Their last AI-powered hiring campaign for this company was highly successful — and they still have all the data on the search patterns and strategies that found the best hires. This time, the team draws on that data to source a larger pool of similar candidates for the company’s new locations. They create a wireless “geofence” around specific locations. Automatically, the sourcing program gathers hordes of resumes of geographically segmented and promising candidates. Meanwhile, the team looks at the existing data on previous candidates and hires to see where there might be interest in relocating or moving up the ranks.

Making Connections

Since AI tools have done the heavy lifting for them, the team at Talent Inc. is ready to start sorting through the resumes of qualified candidates and reach out. They tailor their approaches to what they already know about these candidates — collected via AI — to make these vital first connections, using hiring events, social and mobile messages, and personalized emails. They begin to put together prospective talent pools for each level of hire, and start digging into resumes to see if they’re coming up short or sourcing sufficiently. They automatically set up and maintain an ATS. Since the whole team is working on the same platform with access to the same information, they can quickly set up automated tasks for AI to complete that will help them pinpoint ideal candidates for each position, and they can start reaching out to candidates who stand out.

Tending to the Talent

Even before they start screening for skills, competencies and experience, there are already conversations going on between prospective candidates and the hiring team. It’s not the hiring people doing the talking: there’s no phone tag or cumbersome emails. Instead, the candidates are engaging with a sophisticated virtual assistant. Candidates who show interest can do a pre-screening quickly with a chatbot, asking questions and getting a clearer picture on the position. Each conversation offers dynamic, responsive messaging and produces data on the candidate that the virtual assistant can share with the team at Talent Inc.

In the time it might take to reach out and have one initial conversation with one candidate, countless exchanges have already taken place and candidates are already engaged in the application process. There’s now a whole pool of candidates entering the talent pipeline, already having a positive experience and interested in finding out what comes next. Many of these candidates are digital natives, well used to interacting with chatbots and at ease with the process — and to them, the process implies that the employer is appealingly forward-thinking in its approach to business and people. Now candidates can start having real-time conversations with the recruiting team, who already know a great deal about each candidate before they talk — and can tailor their conversations based on what they know.

Making Sure the Fit Is Just Right

With 250 positions to fill, there’s little time to spend on potentially poor hires. But AI has already created predictive analytics on who may make the grade and be a great fit. A whole array of criteria has been used to create screenings and pinpoint promising matches, and the HR team can rely on the data to help narrow down the best candidates for each position — and find candidates that might be better fits for other positions they may not have applied for.

In each case, the hiring team can take time to get to know each candidate, whether in conversation or formal interviews, as the human recruiters are freed up from repetitive and tedious administrative tasks now being executed by the AI software. While the average recruiter only spends six seconds on a candidate’s resume, the team at Talent Inc. gets to know all the great candidates they can — and based on the data already gathered, there’s lots to talk about

Keeping the Hiring Process Going

Providing an outstanding candidate experience that really conveys the potential employer’s brand is a one of Talent Inc.’s core values. All the portals and dashboards prospective hires are using during this process are layered with the look, feel, mission and message of the employer. Interviews are being set up with the top-tier prospects within the company, but the employer and the hiring team have partnered on a new initiative of different interviewing tools.

A recent study on LinkedIn found that key hiring trends for 2018 include different kinds of interviews and conversations, adding more of a human side to the classic mano-a-mano. That may include online skills assessments — which may be built around the data AI has gathered already on candidates. There are VR options for “trying out” the position in the virtual workplace, job “auditions,” video interviews, and far more casual interviews that set both interviewer and candidate at ease and allow for more meaningful and spontaneous conversations. The data intelligence has enabled recruiters to use their emotional intelligence. Soon Talent Inc. has recommended a pool of terrific candidates for the expanding firm, is monitoring and facilitating the application process, and has also maintained connections with those who may not apply this round, but may in the future.

“21st-century HR isn’t about playing it safe,” noted IBM’s David Green in a recent article by Arya on the role of AI in HR. AI has enabled our hypothetical recruiters at Talent Inc. to keep their employer ahead of the competition — sourcing the best talent in an extremely short window of time using the power of data and AI, and the freedom these tools give them to provide a terrific candidate experience that reflects the employer and sets up hires for engagement and success.

Every interaction has added to the data gathered on each candidate, and improved the recruiter’s understanding of the relative strength and fit of that candidate with regards to the company. AI has predicted outcomes and suggested plans based on previous successes to drive better hires and forecast future hiring needs. AI has also kept a close watch on any skills gaps or problematic screenings, reducing risk and paying attention to ROI, while recruiters are spending more time with each candidate, establishing a connection and a relationship. The result is a whole crop of promising new hires who can help the organization continue its growth.

And based on the data gleaned during this hiring phase and over the course of onboarding, development, and indeed the employee journey, AI can improve the next hiring push even more. If I could pat the team at Talent Inc. on the virtual back, I would.

This post is sponsored by Leoforce.

How to Leverage AI Recruiting to Make Better Hires

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HR and recruiters don’t tend to take things at face value. For good reason: we’re called on to rely on our educated judgments. We’re in the business of futurecasting, person by person. We find the best talent with the most potential for doing great things for an employer in the near future, and we do it over and over again. But we’ve been up for a turbocharge for a long time. A career path that is this intense, combining administrative, personal, and strategic tasking constantly needs sophisticated ways to advance above old archaic practices we no longer want to rely on. With AI, we have it.

AI conducts its own version of futurecasting. It’s a fast and efficient supporting player that can scale up our efforts and free us the bandwidth so we can focus on the one-to-one. Fact is, AI is rapidly disrupting recruiting in a good way. But ask someone what it means and you may get a head-scratch. For anyone who’s been looking for a simple basic explanation of what and how AI recruiting works, here it is. One caveat: let’s not call this “AI for Dummies.” No one here is a dummy, and no matter how sophisticated AI is, talent acquisition needs your acumen, intelligence, and expertise.

Here’s a breakdown of five ways AI is taking recruiting to the next level, and knowing how to leverage what it’s capable of — that’s the ace up our sleeves.

Machine Learning

Machine learning is sometimes defined as the ability to “act without having to be programmed,” but what that means is that AI can comprehend, reason, and learn from every data point, interaction, and outcome. AI puts incredible muscle and speed into analyzing vast amounts of data and arriving at very specific, data-driven observations and predictions.

One way it works: It can find out if a certain hire might be a good fit or whether an employer is going to suffer from a skills gap. It can look at how we’ve been recruiting and find the weak points to make predictions and recommendations. And it can refine its own processes, looking at prior successes and failures to amplify or reframe its own approach.

Big Data

The cloud has essentially blown open the universe as far as the capacity for data. We’re now measuring data in terms of hundreds of zettabytes, being processed and archived and reprocessed and parsed at incredible speed. What we have to work with now was inconceivable even a year ago, let alone a decade, and its revolutionized talent sourcing. It’s not just about static information: this is data that can be accessed and analyzed from countless angles — with statistical models, predictive algorithms, innovative filters, with actionable results.

One way it works: Instead of a recruiter having to devote long hours to manually search through 200 contacts on a spreadsheet, AI creates a recruiting nerve center that can search and analyze massive volumes of applicants.

Pattern Recognition

Old-school recruiting, particularly for rapidly expanding organizations, could feel like searching for a needle in a haystack and like reinventing the same wheel over and over. AI can identify and learn from a recruiter’s most successful patterns — and then replicate them, adjusting for all manner of contexts or requirements. It can also find instances of bias and create ways to overcome them.

One way it works: we can take a job description, and use hiring successes from the past to find the most likely qualified candidates — wherever they are, from a database to a job board to social media. We can identify the likelihood of a hire being a success, identity the potential skills gaps or blind spots of weak points, clarify our best sources, and above all, retain the information. It becomes part an organization’s proprietary wisdom, building up a strong foundation for recruiting successes to come.

Messaging

There’s message — the DNA and brand culture an organization conveys, and then there’s messaging — which is, often, the way that DNA and culture are carried out into the talent market. What AI does is facilitate fast, effective, and dynamic messaging. It begins to build relationships with the right candidates as soon as they’re identified, engaging and even pre-screening them before they have their first real contact or interaction with a recruiter. But it’s not an alienating or generic form of messaging. It’s multilayered, highly attuned and customized to the individual organization and the individual candidate — based on the information already learned and collected, and integrated with an ATS.

One way it works: Chatbots are no longer an alien life-form online: they’re a part of our entire system of communication, commerce, fact finding, an accepted form of exchanging information. AI can provide meaningful, relevant answers to candidate’s questions, and then share this with the recruiter. It makes it possible to spark engagement, maintain and build a connection, and then pass the best candidates to the recruiter to get them started on the actual process of hiring. All without cumbersome emails threads, phone tag, or awkward texts.

Pipelining

AI packs a powerful punch: it can process massive amounts of recruiting, hiring, engagement, performance and behavioral data from millions of prospects. It can focus and search for skills, behavioral and even cultural matches. But even more than that, it empowers recruiters with the single most important resource to stay on target: a viable, dynamic, visible talent pipeline.

Frankly, it’s a game-changer: AI is a game-changing innovation that brings the best of HR to organizations no matter their size, location, or field. In this highly competitive talent market, it gives recruiters a vital resource. It enables recruiters to move candidates into the pipeline and keep track of them automatically, an effective way to maintain visibility across the broadest possible spectrum of talent that enables recruiters to act when they see a potential great fit. It’s also another way to overcome unconscious bias and increase diversity and inclusion.

What AI does is enhance the recruiting across the whole journey. It provides recruiters with a far broader and more accurately gathered pool of candidates, the tools to engage candidates sooner and more effectively, and the means to tend to a pipeline that can be searched and refined according to scaling or changing needs. It’s not really an option, either — as AI becomes part of how organizations function now, it’s changing the very Future of Work — even before we bring the talent to the door.

This post is sponsored by Leoforce.

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How Machine Learning is Changing Recruiting

Companies approach recruiting in different ways. Facebook’s method, for example, involves acquisitions for human capital and a six-week onboarding boot camp. Of course, that’s not the norm: On average, a recent study found it takes 42 days—and a cost-per-hire of $4,129—to fill an open position. That adds up, especially since Bloomberg recently reported that approximately 10,000 members of the baby boomer generation reach retirement age every day. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder efficiency-boosting advancements in machine learning are beginning to challenge the HR status quo. Let’s explore how machine learning is changing recruiting.

How Businesses Use Algorithmic Assessments

Spotify. Waze. Netflix. Amazon. These are just a handful of the many companies that have opted-in to some form of AI or machine learning. Why the boom? There are lots of reasons, of course, but there’s a primary one that comes to mind: Using algorithmic assessments—i.e., a kind of machine learning—can speed existing processes for consumers and even predict their needs ahead of schedule. In other words, these companies know that to get ahead in this digital marketplace, they’ll need to compete on customer experience (CX). They’re using technology to get there.

The same principle holds true for HR and, more specifically, recruiting. Algorithmic assessments use statistics and historical data to predict whether or not a potential employee will perform well. The benefits of this process are numerous: Recruiters can consider more applicants in less time and with less effort. In addition, they have the added peace of mind that their decisions are backed by more data than subjectivity.

Let’s examine an international startup harnessing the power of algorithmic assessments.

From Reviewing Resumes to Reviewing Social Behavior

It’s impossible to tell everything about potential hires from resumes alone. What if you could incorporate that resume data with information about who applicants really are—their values, likes and dislikes, etc.—and then use machine learning to plug that information into an algorithm that could predict how well they fit within your corporate culture? That’s the premise behind the Indian startup Belong, a brand recently profiled by Forbes as one company leading the machine learning and recruiting charge.

Belong’s algorithms do two things: First, they analyze behavioral data from social networks, blogs, and other digital platforms in addition to the standard information like education, experience, and stated objectives found in CVs to gather “a more holistic and accurate” profile of each candidate. They also use machine learning to better understand the preferences and patterns of each hiring company. From all that data, Belong generates a tailored, SERP-esque database of matches, each unique to the company and the position.

Does it work? Belong’s method reportedly gets a minimum of a threefold increase in company-candidate engagement rates. With numbers like that and customers like Cisco and Amazon, I’d say they’re onto something.

Now, Belong was by no means the first to dip its toes into social when it comes to recruiting. Their application of machine learning to their solution, though, is their secret sauce. Note that my friend and colleague, Megan Biro, CEO of TalentCulture, has written extensively about the power of social media, especially in passive recruiting. The trifecta of relationships, conversation, and unprecedented access to digital tools is a veritable hotbed of HR potential—Meghan has even referred to it as the “tech meets HR marriage,” and I couldn’t agree more. We’ve both got eyes on what’s next.

Speaking of what’s next, are there any plans to shake up what recruiting looks like at your organization in the next year? If you’re looking for a change, what potential do you see in machine learning and HR? What challenges? Let me know in the comments.

Photo Credit: martinlouis2212 Flickr via Compfight cc

 This article was first published on FOW Media.