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AI in HR

June 9, 2017

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the newest trends in HR and talent acquisition.  According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, more than 1 in 10 HR managers (13%) are seeing AI become a regular part of HR.  55% say they expect it to play a large role within the next five years.

The definition of artificial intelligence is “an ideal intelligent machine that is a flexible rational agent that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of success at some goal.”  It utilizes algorithms that mimic cognitive functions – making them human-like.

But how does AI replace the “human” in human resources?  They don’t replace, they enhance.  There are aspects of HR that cannot be replaced by a machine.  But other repeated tasks that are time suckers can easily be automated. Below are some of those functions and the percentages of HR departments that automate according to the CareerBuilder survey:

Payroll – 50% fully automate; 42% partially automate

Background Checks/Drug Testing – 39% fully automate; 35% partially automate

Applicant Tracking – 38% fully automate; 35% partially automate

Benefits Administration – 34% fully automate; 49% partially automate

Job Posting Distribution – 30% fully automate; 36% partially automate

Compliance – 25% fully automate; 45% partially automate

Performance Management – 24% fully automate; 38% partially automate

Sourcing Job Candidates – 20% fully automate; 47% partially automate

Onboarding – 15% fully automate; 56% partially automate

As the data reveals, HR automation is widely used, at least on a partial basis.  The same survey states that HR managers that do not automate see 41% lower productivity and 40% more errors.  Those that do not use automation lose an average of 14 hours a week manually completing tasks that could be automated.  This time can be spent on more strategic tasks.  “We always say, ‘I wish I had more time to plan, to think, to keep up on new trends, to strategize.’ To have 14 hours back in a week, the majority of that would be well spent planning for the future instead of reacting to the present,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder.

In reality, many of the AI applications available are just more advanced, updated versions of HR analytics programs.  Ways in which these new AI applications are being used include:

  • Time Management – One of the largest and newest AI systems is called IRIS by Watson, an IBM product. It uses machine learning to rank the priority and complexity of jobs and help recruiters prioritize the most difficult to fill positions first. The system helps to ensure they are focusing their efforts in the right areas at the right time.  IRIS by Watson is part of a larger suite of tools that also includes a sourcing tool that gives a “fit score” to candidates based on the information they submit. The tool allows recruiters to quickly narrow the candidate pool to a manageable number of top prospects.
  • Employee Engagement – AI applications can help create custom learning plans once employees are on board.  Xonify, for example, leverages people data to offer “micro-learning” opportunities individualized for the employee’s specific interests. Using various sources of data about an employee, AI can make predictions about the level of employee engagement and make suggestions based on the factors that will make the biggest difference for a particular employee.
  • Drafting Job Descriptions – AI applications exist that can review job descriptions for gender bias.  Textio Inc. is an application that analyzes each typewritten words in milliseconds to spot gender bias or other language that might turn off good candidates.  It goes as far as to suggest alternative phrasing.

While AI cannot replace human resources staff, it can make the department more efficient.  Its ability to aggregate and analyze data can save hundreds of hours per year.  Taking advantage of some of these time-saving applications can help you develop a more strategic HR function.

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