How Artificial Intelligence Is Transforming HR for the Better
Est. Read Time: 3 min.
When you hear the term “artificial intelligence,” your mind probably conjures up images of complex systems, robots, and algorithms reminiscent of scenes from a science fiction film — not your company’s HR department. While artificial intelligence (AI) can feel like a far-off fantasy for professionals outside the tech sector, it’s quickly becoming commonplace in the workplace. In HR departments in particular, AI is proving to be a valuable tool for developing and managing talent.
Understandably, when people learn about AI’s massive processing power and efficiency, they worry that their jobs are in jeopardy. But AI isn’t meant to replace humans. Quite the opposite: human intelligence is critical for ensuring that AI functions properly.
To help you take your HR department into the future of work, let’s explore how combining AI with HR professionals’ robust knowledge can benefit everyone in the long run.
Enhance and expedite HR processes
First things first, what exactly is AI? Simply put, AI is a set of algorithms that learn signals and make predictions based on data. These algorithms are particularly useful in analyzing large amounts of information and noticing underlying patterns — tasks that take humans a lot of time to accomplish on their own. AI can also reduce error and biases, leading to more reliable and fair decision-making.
Imagine you’re sorting through a large pile of resumes to fill an open position at your organization. Often, the things the eye is immediately drawn to — like mentions of a top-tier university the person attended or prestigious company they’ve worked for — can make you unconsciously favor some candidates over others, even if these attributes don’t necessarily correspond to job performance. AI, on the other hand, can evaluate the same stack of resumes objectively, basing its decisions solely on essential skills and experience — helping you take human biases out of the process and ensuring great candidates aren’t overlooked.
In addition to curtailing bias in HR, AI can increase efficiency. Take employee feedback. Today, you and your colleagues might have to gather and comb through each survey manually to find common concerns and insights. AI automates this process, identifying recurring themes or problems among departments, demographics, and roles in a fraction of the time it would take your team to do the same — so you can dedicate more time to finding solutions, not hunting for problems.
Recognize and account for AI’s limits
As useful as AI can be in the workplace, it can sometimes fall short. The technology can certainly speed up a number of HR processes, but it doesn’t always execute them flawlessly. What’s more, while it can eliminate human bias if programmed correctly, it also has the potential to inadvertently perpetuate these biases. This is known as algorithmic bias.
For an example of what this bias looks like in practice, we can look to an enterprise firm that developed an algorithm to predict which candidates would make the best hires based on their resumes and company historical data. Great, right? Unfortunately, the firm previously had a tendency to hire and promote men over women — the exact sort of bias that AI is often brought in to solve. But since the algorithm was using historical data that seemed to indicate that men make better hires, it quickly developed a bias toward them — flagging women as less qualified in the process.
Luckily, with their rich experience in HR and recruiting matters, HR professionals are well positioned to recognize and resolve issues like this — because without someone monitoring and regulating a company’s AI, algorithmic bias could do real and lasting damage. Just because a task can be automated, that doesn’t mean we should stop relying on the decades of HR knowledge that have guided best practices and procedures in the workplace. If anything, it’s time to strengthen our understanding of them even more — and AI can free up time for your team to do exactly that.
Reap the benefits of AI technology
In the 1980s, computer scientist Hans Moravec and other AI researchers uncovered a phenomenon that can inform how we use AI in the workplace. Through their research, they realized that the tasks AI can easily learn — like calculus, data analysis, and pattern observations — are the ones that humans struggle with the most. The tasks that humans naturally excel at, on the other hand, tend to be the most difficult for AI to pick up — particularly those that require compassion, collaboration, and creativity.
Humans might not be able to rival machines in digesting and analyzing information, but machines will never compare to humans when it comes to exercising empathy and kindness. AI can’t help managers become more emotionally intelligent, and it can’t help working parents manage work schedules alongside family responsibilities. These people-oriented tasks will always be best completed by humans.
At the end of the day, relinquishing robotic tasks to AI gives you more time to focus on what makes work worthwhile — other people.
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About Laura Zifchak (Poggi)
Laura leads the marketing team for the PeopleDoc by Ultimate Software products in North America. She joined PeopleDoc in January 2015 to help HR teams learn about HR Service Delivery technology, understand how it benefits their existing business strategies, and become expert users of our platform as customers.
Laura has experience with bringing technical software solutions to market with prior leadership positions at both IBM and RTTS. She has an MBA from CUNY Baruch Zicklin School of Business, and a BS degree in Marketing from Siena College.
With years of practice managing teams through rapid growth and constant change, Laura is passionate about employee and manager experience, and using technology to help scale and improve operations.