While, in the past, artificial intelligence may have been thought to be a product of science fiction, most professionals today understand that the adoption of smart technology is actively changing workplaces. There are applications of AI throughout nearly every profession and industry, and human resources careers are no exception.
A recent survey conducted by Oracle and Future Workplace found that human resources professionals believe AI can present opportunities for mastering new skills and gaining more free time, allowing HR professionals to expand their current roles in order to be more strategic within their organization.
Among HR leaders who participated in the survey, however, 81 percent said that they find it challenging to keep up with the pace of technological changes at work. As such, it is more important now than ever before for human resources professionals to understand the ways in which AI is reshaping the industry.
Read on to explore what artificial intelligence entails, how it is applied to the world of human resources management, and how HR professionals can prepare for the future of the field today.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
At a high level, artificial intelligence (AI) is a technology that allows computers to learn from and make or recommend actions based on previously collected data. In terms of human resources management, artificial intelligence can be applied in many different ways to streamline processes and improve efficiency.
Uwe Hohgrawe, lead faculty for Northeastern’s Master of Professional Studies in Analytics program explains that “we as humans see the information in front of us and use our intelligence to draw conclusions. Machines are not intelligent, but we can make them appear intelligent by feeding them the right information and technology.”
While organizations are adopting AI into their human resources processes at varying rates, it is clear to see that the technology will have a lasting impact on the field as it becomes more widely accepted. For this reason, it is important that HR professionals prepare themselves for these changes by understanding what the technology is and how it is applied across various functions.
3 Top Applications of AI in HR
Among the numerous applications of AI in the human resources sector, some of the first changes HR professionals should expect to see involve recruitment and onboarding, employee experience, process improvement, and the automation of administrative tasks.
1. Recruitment and Onboarding
While many organizations are already beginning to integrate AI technology into their recruiting efforts, the vast majority of organizations are not. In fact, Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey found that only 6 percent of respondents believed that they had the best-in-class recruitment processes in technology, while 81 percent believed their organization’s processes were standard or below standard. For this reason, there are tremendous opportunities for professionals to adapt their processes and reap the benefits of using this advanced technology.
During the recruitment process, AI can be used to the benefit of not only the hiring organization but its job applicants, as well. For example, AI technology can streamline application processes by designing more user-friendly forms that a job applicant is more likely to complete, effectively reducing the number of abandoned applications.
While this approach has made the role of the human resources department in recruitment much easier, artificial intelligence also allows for simpler and more meaningful applications on the candidate’s end, which has been shown to improve application completion rates.
Additionally, AI has played an important role in candidate rediscovery. By maintaining a database of past applicants, AI technology can analyze the existing pool of applicants and identify those that would be a good fit for new roles as they open up. Rather than expending time and resources searching for fresh talent, HR professionals can use this technology to identify qualified employees more quickly and easily than ever before.
Once hiring managers have found the best fit for their open positions, the onboarding process begins. With the help of AI, this process doesn’t have to be restricted to standard business hours—a huge improvement over onboarding processes of the past.
Instead, AI technology allows new hires to utilize human resources support at any time of day and in any location through the use of chatbots and remote support applications. This change not only provides employees with the ability to go through the onboarding process at their own pace, but also reduces the administrative burden and typically results in faster integration.
2. Internal Mobility and Employee Retention
In addition to improvements to the recruitment process, HR professionals can also utilize artificial intelligence to boost internal mobility and employee retention.
Through personalized feedback surveys and employee recognition systems, human resources departments can gauge employee engagement and job satisfaction more accurately today than ever before. This is incredibly beneficial considering how important it is to understand the overall needs of employees, however there are several key organizational benefits to having this information, as well.
According to a recent report from the Human Resources Professional Association, some AI software can evaluate key indicators of employee success in order to identify those that should be promoted, thus driving internal mobility. Doing so has the potential to significantly reduce talent acquisition costs and bolster employee retention rates.
This technology is not limited to identifying opportunities to promote from within, however; it can also predict who on a team is most likely to quit. Having this knowledge as soon as possible allows HR professionals to deploy retention efforts before it’s too late, which can strategically reduce employee attrition.
3. Automation of Administrative Tasks
One of the key benefits of leveraging artificial intelligence in various human resources processes is actually the same as it is in other disciplines and industries: Automating low value, easily repeatable administrative tasks gives HR professionals more time to contribute to strategic planning at the organizational level. This, in turn, enables the HR department to become a strategic business partner within their organizations.
Smart technologies can automate processes such as the administration of benefits, pre-screening candidates, scheduling interviews, and more. Although each of these functions is important to the overall success of an organization, carrying out the tasks involved in such processes is generally time-consuming, and the burden of these duties often means that HR professionals have less time to contribute to serving their employees in more impactful ways.
Deploying AI software to automate administrative tasks can ease this burden. For instance, a study by Eightfold found that HR personnel who utilized AI software performed administrative tasks 19 percent more effectively than departments that do not use such technology. With the time that is saved, HR professionals can devote more energy to strategic planning at the organizational level.
Preparing For the Future of Human Resources Management
While it is clear that artificial intelligence will continue to positively shape the field of human resources management in the coming years, HR professionals should also be aware of the challenges that they might face.
The most common concerns that HR leaders have focus primarily on making AI simpler and safer to use. In fact, the most common factor preventing people from using AI at work are security and privacy concerns. Additionally, 31 percent of respondents in Oracle’s survey expressed that they would rather interact with a human in the workplace than a machine. Moving forward, HR professionals will need to be prepared to address these concerns by staying on top of trends and technology as they evolve and change.
“People will need to be aware of ethical and privacy questions when using this technology,” Hohgrowe says. “In human resources, [AI] can involve using sensitive information to create sensitive insights.”
For instance, employees want their organizations to respect their personal data and ask for permission before using such technology to gather information about them. However organizations also want to feel protected from data breaches, and HR professionals must take the appropriate security measures into account.
To prepare for the future of human resources management, professionals should take the necessary steps to learn about current trends in the field, as well as lay a strong foundation of HR knowledge that they can build upon as the profession evolves.
Earning a Master of Science in Human Resources Management
Staying up to date with industry publications and networking with leaders in the field is a great way to stay abreast of current trends like the rapid adoption of artificial intelligence technologies. Building your foundational knowledge of key human resource management theories, strategy, and ethics, on the other hand, is best achieved through higher education.
Although there are many certifications and courses available that focus on specific HR topics, earning an advanced degree like a Master of Science in Human Resources Management provides students with a more holistic approach to understanding the connection between an organization and its people.
“At Northeastern, we highlight the importance of three literacies: data literacy, technological literacy, and humanic literacy. That combination is one of the areas where I believe we will pave the way in the future,” Hohgrawe says. “This also allows us to explore augmented artificial intelligence in a way that appreciates the relationship between human, machine, and data.”
Students looking to specialize in AI also have the opportunity to declare a concentration in artificial intelligence within Northeastern’s human resource management program. Those who specialize in this specific aspect of the industry will study topics such as human resources information processing, advanced analytical utilization, and AI communication and visualization. Similarly, those who seek a more technical master’s degree might consider a Northeastern’s Master of Professional Studies in Enterprise Intelligence, which also includes a concentration in AI for human resources.
No matter each student’s specific path, however, those who choose to study at Northeastern will have the unique chance to learn from practitioners with advanced knowledge and experience in the field. Many of Northeastern’s faculty have previously or are currently working in the human resources management field, enabling them to bring a unique perspective to the classroom and educate students on the real-world challenges that HR professionals face today.
Between the world-class faculty members and the multitude of experiential learning opportunities provided during the pursuit of a master’s degree, aspiring HR professionals will graduate from Northeastern’s program with the unique combination of experience and expertise needed to land a lucrative role in this growing field.