Article (March-2018)


The Romance of HR & AI

Purvi Sheth

Designation : -   CEO

Organization : -  Shilputsi Consultants, Mumbai


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The success of romance between HR and AI is evident in the technological development success in the talent search space. Recruiters who previously spent a lot more of time in routine and administrative work, can spend their hours productively making decisions armed with all the information AI equips them with.
If you aren't a millennial and are reading this, you may remember the time when one could go to an airline office or sit at a travel agents desk discussing travel itineraries and physically buying a ticket! You can still do that, but the best deals are probably on your smart phones anyway. Whether it's an Uber payment gone wrong or revising your prominence on social media, artificial intelligence pervades every aspect of our lives.  Artificial intelligence (AI) is defined as an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans. Some of the activities artificial intelligence is designed for include, speech recognition, learning, planning & problem solving. So, if machines will work like "humans", then what is the future of "human resource management?" Should human resources be threatened by machine learning? Will technology replace people & jobs? Will this be a war between human talent and technical capability?
HR and technology are NOT adversorial. If anything, they compliment each other. Much like two people in love, building a life together, HR & technology work collectively to achieve goals & a common vision, they enhance outcomes by supporting each other & they don't interfere in each other's areas of expertise.
Love is in the air….
AI met HR via the recruitment route. One of the first areas of automation in HR was recruitment. It started with somewhat clunkily developed software to sophisticated recruitment portals to machine learning that does screening of resumes in seconds to identify appropriate fits! This is where it all began, and recruiters will tell you that this introduction by cupid (or techies) was perhaps, the best thing to happen to them!
Today, the success of this romance is evident in the technological development success in the talent search space. Recruiters who previously spent a lot more of time in routine and administrative work, can spend their hours productively making decisions armed with all the information AI equips them with. They are no longer researching candidates and their personal history, but instead obtain information from the data gathered by AI from social media and other sources for candidates. This is likely to reduce not only the time taken to conclude a recruitment process, but will provide more thorough and accurate information to make a deliberated decision with.

Taking it to the next level…
Like in every relationship, the initial flirting moves to a more serious phase. This phase is where AI & HR came together for areas like payroll administration, leave management and organising attendance issues. This was an easy to adopt area again, where companies (not just HR professionals) began feeling the impact of a more efficiency and outcome driven process. Again, HR professionals were no longer making paper reports and sitting in office for long hours making salary calculations. It took away the intensity of operational HR, leaving time for areas like talent engagement and performance management.
Intense & Committed…
Having experienced first hand, the value & usefulness of technology in HR, the relationship at both ends decides to kick it up a notch. This the phase is where a couple creates interdependence and leans on the partner for more than the usual. HR professionals were looking for more enhanced products and technology was working in exactly that direction. The goal being to allow HR processes & outcomes to remain earnest, while the methodology becomes less cumbersome. I am giving below a few pertinent areas where AI has entered the HR space.
Performance management - Technology has made easier the tracking of employee performance, employee work and ensuring the delivery of appraisals. HR experts don't need to spend their time chasing individuals to fill out pages of appraisals and leaders don't have to think of every team members' performance in the past 12 months. Real time feedback mechanisms, PMS apps and online HRMS portals enable a seamless process in mapping the organisation's performance against business performance. 
Talent Engagement - Previously HR professionals spent a lot of time diagnosing the organisations morale and areas of discontentment in the workforce. Today, chat bots and chat platforms work to allow conversations and analyses to come through easily. This takes away the pain of travel and lengthy diagnostics, but getting to the exact place of the problem and tackling it before it escalates. For employees, the technology of chat bots allow them to vent, appreciate and even sound out for advice. Technology has created so many touch points in an organisation, that even the smallest of HR departments will not miss out disgruntled or unhappy employees. 
Learning & Development - E learning & learning management systems are critical to companies & HR today. Be spoke content can be uploaded and accessed from anywhere. This has created savings and standardised learning. 
Meet the parents….
Today, CEOs & leadership teams are taking an active interest in AI & HR! The fiery combination and the exciting results they produce together around workforce efficiency and engagement is catching the attention of leadership of businesses of all sizes. Board meetings are taking time out to talk about investment in technology in HR. The marriage of HR & AI is inevitable - and all are invited!