Artificial intelligence (AI) and human resources (HR) may seem like strange allies at first. AI brings to mind words such as robots and automation, while HR calls for people and relationships. AI is artificial; HR is human. However, AI and HR are actually a far better suited match than their unmatched labels would suggest. In fact, a growing mass of research indicates that AI can actually make organizations more human. Making good use of artificially intelligent technology, organizations are improving transparency, delivering personalized coaching at scale, and helping leaders to understand the state of their workforce in a much deeper way than before. Thereby, AI is helping companies, HR, and managers to drastically improve the employee experience.
A good example of this is the employee feedback process. Asking questions, understanding data and responding to employee feedback is one of the most human activities in an organization. However, most organizations aren’t great at making good use of their employees’ feedback.
The traditional and still most common approach is based on often too comprehensive employee engagement surveys. The data is often analyzed manually, and before it´s reported back to those who can make change happen, a too long time span has passed, and data loses its’ relevancy. Actions based on this make little meaning and therefore the employee feedback passes as unresponded to and employees feel unheard. Arguably this method is not “human”.
Automation has dramatically improved the employee engagement survey process. More and more organizations are tweaking the traditional approach described above in favour of more frequent pulse surveys and technology-enabled dashboards that provide managers and leaders with team-level data much more frequently. Even before AI is added, this improvement alone leads to more relevant, actionable data that enables more effective change.
What AI has enabled is more than faster results to an employee survey: AI means leaders and managers can receive personalized insights that allow them to not only respond more effectively to employee concerns, but to also take more effective actions based on learnings from large data sets of thousands of other teams results, actions and their corresponding effects. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can monitor and analyze millions of data points, finding patterns and discrepancies across engagement scores and trends over time, as well as many sources of data. The system learns over time from each organization and team, making more personalized and accurate predictions, so teams can have more effective and relevant conversations about the future, rather than the past.
AI also changes the game of open ended comments in employee feedback, housing nuance, emotion, stories and ideas to solutions. But, with volume it’s impossible for leaders to understand and act on the vast amount of information these comments provide. With use of AI we make actionable insights out of thousands of comments and turn them into valuable sources of information as to what causes problems, where in the organization they are and how they can be managed and solved. As new comments are being added, the system learns more and gets better at clarifying the story of the employees’ experiences.
So, what AI does is that it unlocks the human-oriented HR — with algorithms. With clearer and deeper information about how their employees think and feel, leaders and managers are able to make better decisions that impact the experiences of their people.
With less time spent analyzing and interpreting data, HR teams are freed to spend more time coaching and developing leaders, managers, and employees, strengthening relationships, and implementing strategic and creative programs. These new technologies, while powered by algorithms, ultimately create a more people-centric and human workplace.
And, improving organizations’ abilities to understand and respond to employee feedback is just one example of AI making the workplace more human. Instead of worrying about the robot revolution, it’s time to consider how these technologies can be leveraged into creating an even better business life.