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Five Ways HR Can Leverage Artificial Intelligence To Improve The Candidate and Employee Experience

The artificial intelligence revolution is transforming all industries and functions. Every day we use some form of artificial intelligence in our personal lives whether it’s listening to a personalized playlist on Spotify or using Waze to navigate in traffic. However, as HR leaders, we are still in the early stages of adopting a strategy for how to use AI for HR. According to a research study conducted by Future Workplace and sponsored by Oracle entitled AI at Work; among 600 HR leaders in North America, only 6% are deploying some form of artificial intelligence to enhance their people practices.

The implications of artificial intelligence (AI) will soon surface in the workplace. In fact, Gartner predicts that by the year 2022, one in five employees who are engaged in mostly non routine tasks will rely on some form of artificial intelligence to do their job. By this, Gartner means that knowledge workers (you and I) will increasingly depend on the insights provided by a set of AI tools to be more productive and create greater value for our organizations.   

So while AI is getting ready for business, many business leaders (including HR leaders) are not prepared for AI. A McKinsey survey of 3,000 business executives across 10 countries and 14 sectors found that few firms have actually deployed AI. In fact, 41% of these business executives admit they have not implemented AI because they are not exactly sure what AI can do for them, how it can help their organization, how they can integrate AI into their company, what change management practices will need to be put into place, or how to assess the return on investment in the technology.

I believe the time is now for HR leaders to be pioneers in leading their organizations. One key finding from the McKinsey survey of early adopter companies using AI is a focus on using AI for growth and transformation initiatives, not solely for automation and cost savings. HR leaders have an opportunity to assume a leadership position in identifying a HR problem that can be solved using artificial intelligence and assembling a coalition of business stakeholders to communicate the benefits of using AI across the employee life cycle.

In this context of becoming an HR pioneer, here are five (5) areas HR leaders and their teams can start in their journey for using artificial intelligence and improve the end-to-end candidate and employee experience.

#1 Be curious about how AI can impact you, your team and your HR function

My recommendation is to start researching AI tools you can use in your daily work life where AI will help you work smarter. For example, consider trying:

Paysa, a site that uses machine learning to provide salary information and career insights for job seekers and employers; Zoom.ai, a virtual AI-powered personal assistant to schedule your meetings and which is programmed to learn from each interaction with you; a virtual AI-powered personal assistant to schedule your meetings which is programmed to learn from each interaction with you; and Textio, an AI-powered site which helps your recruiting team improve the text of job descriptions, attracting a more diverse talent pool.    

These are great ‘gateway’ products that will help you better understand how AI can improve your personal productivity and find top talent for your company.

#2 Understand the most important business problems to be solved by using AI

For many companies, the first pilots of artificial intelligence are in talent acquisition as this is the area where companies see significant, measurable, and immediate results. These results include reducing time to hire, increasing productivity for recruiters, and delivering an enhanced candidate experience that is seamless, simple, and intuitive. In our AI at Work survey of 600 heads of HR, we asked HR leaders: where is AI being used in HR to re-imagine the candidate and employee experience? 

Table: Where is AI Being Used in HR?

Sourcing Screening, & Interviewing   40% 
Career Development & Training  29% 
Improve Candidate Recruiting  26% 
Performance Management  24%
Provide Recruiters with Hiring Insights   24%


Hilton is one company already on the journey to use AI for HR. Sarah Smart, Vice President of Global Recruiting says, “By using artificial intelligence to source, screen and interview candidates, we have increased our speed to hire by 85%. We have also experienced other business benefits such as increasing the diversity of our talent pool and enabling our recruiters to identify high performing candidates faster. Having started our journey using AI in 2014, we see future use cases for AI are improving new hire onboarding and providing internal talent mobility for Hilton employees at all levels.”  To date, Hilton has invested in upskilling the recruiter rather than making the role redundant. Think of artificial intelligence as a tool in the recruiter’s tool belt to help them streamline the hiring process, but never making the final decision about hiring.

Increasing Completion Rate of Candidates in the Pipeline

In addition to Hilton, another company that is piloting their AI solution for talent acquisition is DBS Bank. The DBS Talent Acquisition team created JIM (Jobs Intelligence Maestro), a virtual recruitment bot powered by artificial intelligence used to conduct candidate screening for those applying to be wealth planning managers, a high-volume job in the consumer bank.

Following the introduction of JIM in May 2018, DBS talent acquisition was able to not only shorten the screening time from 32 minutes per candidate to 8 minutes per candidate but also improve completion rate of job applications from 85% to 97%.

Closing the Black Hole of Recruiting

The examples of how Hilton Hotels and DBS Bank use AI to enhance the candidate experience underscores the potential of using AI early in the recruiting process to streamline, increase speed to hire, and provide an overall better candidate experience. Also, in both the Hilton and DBS use cases, recruiters for high volume positions refocused their responsibilities from routine tasks to performing higher-value work such as sourcing, recruitment marketing, engaging with candidates, and hiring managers.

#3 Form a Coalition of Business Stakeholders and Communicate the Business Benefits of Using AI at Work    

McKinsey Global Institute research finds a focus on entire occupations being displaced is misleading. While nearly all occupations will be affected by automation, McKinsey finds that fewer than 5 percent of occupations can be entirely automated using current technology. But, 60 percent of occupations could have 30 percent or more of their activities automated.    

Let’s take the role of a recruiting coordinator. They will spend a percentage of their time screening resumes, scheduling appointments with candidates and answering frequently asked questions about the company, benefits, and policies. What if this recruiting coordinator were given back 30% of their time to close new hire offers, communicate the vision and culture of the organization and become more of a talent influencer than a recruiting coordinator. This is the power of using AI for HR!

As the focus of artificial intelligence pivots from automating job roles to understanding how to augment human capabilities, the key will be to develop a strategy for how to best leverage AI across the people practices of an organization. I understand this is a new world, which is why my company, Future Workplace, has created an online course, Using AI 4 HR To Enhance the Employee Experience, to assist HR leaders and their teams by learning from the early adopter organizations such as IBM, Marriott, Hilton, Intel and others on how they use AI to find, attract, keep and nurture talent in one of the tightest labor markets in the last 18 years!  

#4 Put yourself in your employees’ shoes and Ensure Employees Understand the Benefits of AI in Making Their Jobs More Human    

The benefits to using AI at work are numerous, from improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the candidate experience to providing employees greater personalization in developing their own career path, all using machine learning recommendations.

But HR leaders must be aware of the importance of communicating how AI can make jobs more human. A survey of 3,000 employees across 8 nations conducted by Kronos Incorporated finds three out of every five organizations (58 percent) have yet to discuss the potential impact of AI on their workforce with employees. However, two-thirds of employees (61 percent) say they’d feel more comfortable if their employer was more transparent about what the future may hold for them and share what the company will be doing to upskill key roles.   

All of this points to a close collaboration between HR leaders and Corporate Communications teams to communicate the vision and strategy for using AI in the workplace.

#5 Remember: Using AI in HR Is A Team Sport   

Using AI in the workplace is not an HR issue, rather it is a business one.

As we contemplate the future of HR and how to integrate AI into the workplace, standing still is not an option. We must assemble a cross functional team of HR, IT, Finance, Candidate Experience, Employee Experience, Marketing and Communications to share the business value of using AI in HR.

As Sahil Sahni, Co-Founder of AllyO says,” the importance of assembling the right coalition is critical to success. Clients need to build cross-functional alignment between CHRO, CIO, CDO, CMO in order to agree on the business problem that needs to be solved especially important in the age of artificial intelligence.”

Jeanne Meister is Founding Partner of Future Workplace, an HR Advisory and Research firm working with HR leaders to prepare them for what’s next in transforming the HR function. Future Workplace has created an online course Using AI 4 HR To Enhance the Employee Experience featuring 12 organizations who are using AI and realizing business benefits across the organization.


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