Despite the reservations about artificial intelligence and its potential impact on jobs, businesses are embracing the technology. In fact, HR leaders from many well-known organizations have AI initiatives underway or on the cards.

Given that we’re just beginning to understand the power and potential of AI, HR leaders are intentional in its use: they seek to deploy AI in an ethical manner that doesn’t introduce bias. In addition, they seek technology that complements and extends our human capabilities, while freeing our time to focus on more strategic initiatives.

Research: interest and adoption of AI by HR leaders

In 2018, Korn Ferry published a global study of 770 talent acquisition professionals. In it, 63% of respondents said that AI changed the way recruiting is done in their organization, while 69% said that using AI as a sourcing tool garners higher-quality candidates. 

In addition, 87% of respondents said that they were excited about working with AI even more in the future. Using AI in interview scheduling software is a perfect fit for recruiters, since scheduling candidate interviews is a tedious, time-consuming and labor-intensive task. 

Jacob Zabkowicz, Korn Ferry Vice-President and General Manager, RPO, North America, notes that AI can generate valuable insights from recruitment data.

“For example,” he cites, “in a search for a global automotive maker, we discovered that in one country there was a significant movement of executives from the luxury goods sector to the automotive sector – a relationship that wouldn’t have been obvious without AI.”

The Littler Annual Employer Survey is an annual report with responses from in-house counsel, human resources professionals and C-suite executives. The report analyzes the legal, technological and social issues having the greatest impact in the workplace.

The 2018 report was based on 1,111 responses. Of the business functions using artificial intelligence or data analytics to improve workforce management decisions, the report found that 49% of respondents indicated “Recruiting and hiring,” the highest percentage of all categories:

Source: The Littler Annual Employer Survey 2018

AI: a strategic HR initiative at IBM

An article at SHRM titled “IBM Transforms Its Approach to Human Resources with AI” details how AI is a strategic HR initiative at IBM.

Much of IBM’s AI-enabled HR systems are based on IBM Watson, which the company describes as “The Open, Multicloud Platform That Lets You Automate The AI Lifecycle.” The article featured Obed Louissaint, vice president of talent, Watson health & employee experience at IBM, who detailed some of the AI-based HR tools in use at the company:

  • Blue Matching, which uses AI to recommend available jobs to employees, based on attributes such as location, role, experience and related factors.
  • CogniPay, which uses AI to evaluate performance and payroll data, then helps managers make better compensation decisions. 
  • Watson Career Coach, which helps employees identify skills gaps using a virtual career advisor named Myca.

IBM estimates that Blue Matching, CogniPay and Watson Career Coach generated more than $100 million in cost savings in the past year. 

According to the article, “Total savings are calculated by tallying the expenses IBM avoided in sourcing and recruiting for new talent, hiring and training new employees, as well as the costs associated with the value of workers who would have likely left the company because they didn’t envision career advancement there.”

Marriott uses an AI-enabed chatbot for recruitment

In 2017, Marriott International, Inc. launched “MC,” a chatbot for Facebook Messenger that connects job seekers to relevant roles at the company.

According to an article on the company’s website, MC can answer job seekers questions such as, “Do you have event manager job openings in Chicago?” and “Do you have restaurant manager job openings in San Francisco?” 

Using data-driven logic and specialized algorithms, the chatbot can even answer questions such as “What are Marriott’s core values?” 

According to David Rodriguez, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Human Resources Officer for Marriott International, “Personalization is a principle that is changing the expectations of digital audiences globally and with recent advancements in automated technology, we have the opportunity to enhance the search and apply experience for thousands of job seekers.”

With “MC,” Marriott creates a unique and useful experience for candidates, while making life easier for recruiters and recruiting coordinators. Among other benefits, recruiters can prioritize quality, put candidates first and find time to do what makes them (e.g., recruiters) invaluable.

Gartner: an AI action plan for HR leaders

At Gartner’s ReimagineHR 2018 event in Orlando, Florida, Scott E. Engler, Gartner VP, Advisory, said, “Beyond the net impact on employment numbers, AI is changing the skills needed to perform today’s jobs.” 

In a tweet, Engler shared an image that captures what AI can and cannot do:

Source: @Gartner_HR via Twitter

While AI can automate tasks, identify patterns, apply decision rules, search data and build structures, it CANNOT strategize, empathize, improvise, be creative, or have an aesthetic.

A Smarter with Gartner article detailed the four types of skills in the workplace, noting that demand for each skill will shift with the adoption of AI:

  • Expiring: can be taken over by technology
  • Social-Creative: aesthetics and creativity, which can be difficult to automate
  • Digitally dexterous: use technology to generate an end result
  • Technology development: build, implement and maintain technology

The Gartner article urges HR leaders to proactively create an AI strategy for the current workforce and for potential employees. The strategy must involve all elements of HR: talent management, learning and development, recruiting, compensation and employee engagement.

The article concludes by providing a recommended timeline starting now, then progressing to the next 90 days and the next 12 months. 

How are you planning an AI strategy for your workforce? We recommend that you give the Gartner article a read for some fresh perspectives.