Artificial Intelligence Is Streamlining HR, Adding Efficiency

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By Genevieve Douglas

Artificial intelligence technology is transforming the way the world works, and human resources departments will likely be no exception.

“Now, more than ever, AI technology is changing the way companies source, engage, acquire and manage talent,” Jason Roberts, global head of technology and analytics for staffing firm Randstad Sourceright, told Bloomberg BNA via email.

In fact, Randstad Sourceright research shows that 76 percent of 400 global human capital leaders surveyed say technology analytics play a critical role in engaging talent, and 48 percent are investing in analytics dashboards to better manage and predict talent needs, according to Roberts. “These tools are providing HR with the ability to capture workforce data, and are critical to building the business intelligence and insights needed to drive overall business growth,” he said.

Future hiring process will increasingly incorporate AI and data analytics to find the best candidate for a job. And they likely will fuel growth in the contingent workforce, Roberts said. Global shifts toward AI and robotics have prompted companies to streamline their HR processes by implementing a “total workforce solution” that incorporates permanent employees, temporary staff, freelancers, contractors, and robotics to meet their needs, he said.

One of the most popular capabilities of AI technology that HR is embracing are “chat bots,” Andrew Challenger, vice president of workplace consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told Bloomberg BNA. These are “smart” pieces of software that can answer questions for employees, prospective job candidates, or other individuals who want a rapid response. Chat bots can be particularly helpful for companies with remote workers who need to communicate with HR but can’t just “walk down the hall,” he said.

Efficiency in Recruitment

Today, only HR departments at the most hi-tech and cutting-edge companies have artificial intelligence technology, “but we can see the trend is starting,” Challenger said.

For example, travel technology company Fareportal is reaping the benefits of greater efficiency through AI technology. It has piloted using AI in its hiring and recruitment efforts, Corissa Leong, senior vice president of people and culture at Fareportal, told Bloomberg BNA. The program tests whether AI can streamline the recruiting process, she said.

Recruitment involves a lot of manual labor from recruiters and HR professionals, from contacting candidates, gathering data, coordinating with managers, and reviewing resumes, Leong said. The goal with the pilot was to make the process more efficient by using AI to pull information from the applicant tracking system, she said.

The pilot program used the technology to compare criteria for a data scientist position to candidates who had applied, and it scored each individual. Recruiters were then able to focus their efforts “only on the high-scoring candidates instead of wading through resumes one-by-one,” Leong said.

In the next stage, Fareportal would like to use its AI technology to determine whether candidates are better suited for the job they apply for, or for other openings at the company, Leong said. That would “help us match the best employee for the right job.” Down the road Fareportal would like to use AI technology to automate employee scheduling as well, she said.

Costs Saved, Human Touch Still Required

AI “software can find better people than HR can in a lot of ways,” at least when it comes to first round interviews in high volume hiring scenarios, Challenger said. But companies who embrace these capabilities should still make sure their hiring and HR departments have a human touch.

“You still can’t hire someone effectively completely using technology,” Challenger said. In person interviews are not going away anytime soon, Challenger said, but HR may see AI and virtual reality technologies start to replace some of that upfront work that allows them to better focus their efforts.

When people look at automation, they’re often afraid of that word because they think it will reduce the need for people,” Leong said, but Fareportal’s HR team is embracing the technology because it helps them be “more efficient and smarter in their work.” Fareportal has also taken care not to lose the “human touch” essential to effective employee recruitment, Leong added. That “will always be there.”

Roberts said HR departments should pursue technology strategies that combine expertise in statistical analysis, application programming, recruiting, and business goals “to bring the true potential of HR technology to life,” while retaining the human touch in the recruitment and hiring process.

To contact the reporter on this story: Genevieve Douglas in Washington at gdouglas@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tony Harris at tharris@bna.com

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