Automation and Human Resources

Does Automation Have a Place in Human Resources?

March 18, 2020 2:33 am

Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking the world by storm right now, even making its way into the most human of all industrieshuman resources.

According to the 2019 Littler Annual Employer Survey, companies are using AI in these top five ways to benefit their human resources departments:

  1. Screening resumes or applications: 25%
  2. Identifying hard-to-reach candidate pools: 11%
  3. Analyzing top-performing employs to find desirable traits to look for in job candidates: 9%
  4. Assessing candidates’ social media accounts: 8%
  5. Studying applicants’ communications during interviews (to include body language, vocal tone, facial expression, etc.): 8%

In regard to the fifth application, the thought of a job candidate’s non-verbal communications being reduced to 1s and 0s sounds like something from a sci-fi movie. However, the advances above show just how far machines have come in being able to measure things we previously thought to be outside the realm of technology.

As the human resources industry aims to leverage the power of tech, here are some specific areas where we may expect to see automation taking over in the workplace (if it hasn’t already):

  • Vacation scheduling: Rather than having to go to their supervisor to ask for dates off before they plan a vacation, software could show employees when their co-workers are expecting to be gone. This will allow employees to see what times are most favorable for taking leave. They can then submit requests online, eliminating the clumsy back-and-forth exchanges between supervisors and employees looking to get a firm commitment on when they can take leave.
  • Training: Employee training could be moved online with software to track who has completed various modules and who still needs to finish them.
  • Scheduling: It can take a lot of time to schedule interviews and other HR-related meetings, especially when you have to account for inevitable cancellations and changes. Tasks such as these can be automated so that employers can establish available times, and all involved parties can make and review changes to the schedule in real time.
  • Onboarding: While there are some parts of onboarding that are best served by the human touch, some steps are repetitive and can be automated. These may include setting employees up with new computers, giving them access to different computer programs, having them complete various forms, walking them through company policies, etc.
  • Tracking worker engagement: Good managers want to know how their employees are feeling about their jobs, if they are adequately challenged, and if they plan to stay. There are now AI programs that can predict with impressive accuracy which employees are planning to leave their jobs soon.
    These programs can analyze data based on computer activity (to include emails, time spent browsing the internet, and the tone of their communications). This activity is measured against typical patterns. Outlying activity levels are reported to supervisors who may then take measures to more fully engage the employee or make preparations to replace them if a resolution is not possible or appropriate.

There are many benefits to automating certain processes. It can free employers from having to perform menial, time-consuming tasks. It can focus hiring practices and ensure that no important steps are missed in the onboarding and training processes. It can also help employers gain greater insight into the engagement levels of their workforce.

That said, there are still many aspects of HR that are best handled person to person. These include:

  • Understanding needs: The most successful job matches come when there is a deep understanding of the needs of the company (and, more specifically, the department with a vacancy) and the job candidate. The better you understand exactly what the company needs and wants in an employee and what potential candidates need and want in a job, the better your track record will be for making appropriate matches. This can be best accomplished by asking the right questions and listening carefully.
  • Welcoming new employees: First impressions matter, and if you want to retain new employees, you’ll want to make sure that they feel welcomed and needed from the get-go. People want training, purpose, and a connection to the workplace community. While a computer can help employees through training modules and paperwork, there’s no replacement for a warm welcome at a staff meeting, a welcome aboard lunch, a tour of the company that includes introducing the new employee to other staff members, and an assigned buddy or mentor who is ready and willing to help them adjust to their new work environment.
  • Feedback: Workers want to know where they stand in the eyes of their employer or supervisor. While AI can track employees’ computer activity, it simply doesn’t have the power to deliver feedback with a personal touch. You can retain your employees better by meeting with them at pre-set intervals and helping them know what you’re pleased with and what you would like to see them improve on. Feedback sessions may include helping employees set goals so that they have something to work toward. Employees who feel that they are progressing toward a desired goal are more likely to stick around.
  • Parting advice: make taking care of your people a top priority. This can help guide you as you decide which tasks to automate. If you can automate a low-value task to free up more time to focus on your customers and employees, do it. But evaluate each decision carefully to make sure that you’re not dehumanizing your company in the process. In the end, it’s those human connections that will help you win over and retain the best employees.

If you need help finding top talent, contact our Utah placement agency. With over two decades in the state, we have a unique understanding of the Utah business environment and deep connections that allow us to find skilled candidates to fill your job openings quickly.