AI in HR: How Machine Learning is Changing Human Resources

Not too long ago, artificial intelligence seemed like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. But today, AI is being used in every facet and function of companies, including human resources.

Let’s look at some statistics from IBM:

  • 66 percent of CEOs believe AI can drive significant value in HR.
  • 50 percent of HR executives recognize that AI has the power to transform key dimensions of HR.
  • 54 percent of HR executives believe that AI will affect key roles in the HR organization.

For old-fashioned HR professionals, this trend may seem more nerve-wracking than exciting. But let’s explore the ways in which machine learning is changing the world of Human Resources Management (HRM). Whether your company has already embraced AI, or is simply considering adopting new software, read on to learn more about AI and human resources.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Simply put, artificial intelligence refers to technology that is capable of performing tasks that require some level of cognitive intelligence. That is, it’s a tool capable of doing something that a human can do. The human abilities that AI can replicate include (source):

  • Problem-solving
  • Planning
  • Learning
  • Reasoning
  • Knowledge representation 
  • Perception 

For these reasons, AI has a lot to offer HR departments. HR decision-makers believe that merging AI with HR administrative functions will benefit and improve overall employee experiences, including saved time, increased budget, and more accurate information for decisive people management. 

How is AI being used in HR?

There are a number of different ways that AI is changing traditional HR departments. From simple data entry activity to talent acquisition, AI can assist in nearly every function of an HR department. Below are the different areas of HR that machine learning software has impacted.  

AI enables recruiters to find qualified candidates faster. 

Artificial intelligence has streamlined the hiring process in a number of ways. Candidates can submit resumes, respond to qualifying questions, and undergo preliminary screening—before they ever interact with a real person.

Fifty-two percent of recruiters say the hardest part of recruitment is identifying the right candidates from a large applicant pool (source). AI can save time by automatically screening and qualifying applicants, giving recruiters a shortlist of candidates to pull from, rather than sifting through a larger pool.

AI improves engagement throughout the candidate journey. 

Time-to-hire and cost-to-hire are two of the most influential recruiting metrics. Recruiters save money by hiring good candidates as quickly and cost-effectively as they can.

But a lack of communication throughout the candidate journey can result in an unnecessary time, money, and energy being spent on each potential hire. In fact, 50 percent of candidates say that they don’t receive any type of communication or interaction with an employer once they apply for a role (source), and 40 percent lose interest in a position if they don’t hear back within a week of an interview (source).

AI can be integrated into candidate automation platforms to provide feedback throughout the candidate journey — from the moment a candidate applies to the end of the decision-making process.  

Additionally, AI can help you nurture candidate relationships by segmenting candidates based on interest level and other factors. And it can update candidate records to reflect new positions, work experiences, or skills they might have acquired since the last time you spoke with them. 

AI allows for more effective onboarding.

Hiring a great candidate is just the first step. A good onboarding program can make the difference between a new hire sticking around or planning their exit after their first week. 

From an administrative perspective, AI can relieve HR employees from onboarding tasks that might otherwise take hours or even days. This include distributing company policies, setting up technology, and answering common questions from new employees. 

Unlike traditional onboarding, AI can provide guidance to employees around the clock, ensuring that new hires receive the help they need when they need it, while also minimizing calls, emails, and meetings with HR employees. Chatbots can also answer questions that new hires may be nervous asking on their first day, e.g., questions about time off or working from home.

AI improves employee training. 

AI can have a huge impact on training employees. It’s usually expensive and time-consuming to train employees every year, but it’s incredibly important within a company.

Employees need to feel engaged in order to perform well. AI-based training can make sure that programs are tailored to the specific needs of any given employee. AI-infused employee training platforms provide a host of benefits, including:

  • Personalization
  • Data insights 
  • Long-term sustainability 
  • A future-ready workforce
  • Better career and professional development 

In our digitally proliferated environment, AI can both identify and help close the skill gaps created by technology. 

The Case Against AI

Artificial intelligence has undoubtedly changed the world of HR for the better—when it’s used correctly. Despite its many benefits, recruiters and HR professionals still must use caution when leveraging this pervasive technology.

While AI can make life a lot easier for HR employees, it can also amplify—rather than reduce—a lot of the problems already present in HR departments. Below are some of the ways that AI can be problematic when you fail to adequately monitor its use. 

1. AI can be biased.

AI is comprised of algorithms, and algorithms are made by people, and people are inherently biased. Professor Matissa Hollister from McGill University points out that “a machine-learning system is only as unbiased as the information it learns from” (source).

For example, Amazon spent years developing a resume analysis algorithm, only for it to never be used due to the system’s discrimination towards women. Most of the previously accepted resumes it assessed were from men, so the algorithm taught itself that men were preferable to women. 

Additionally, things like facial recognition software can misidentify or misread faces of color as a result of unrepresentative training data. 

2. AI can raise privacy concerns.

IBM released a predictive attrition software that is said to have a 95 percent accuracy rate (source). While it may save HR departments money in terms of having to replace employees, the software raises significant concerns around privacy, consent, and boundaries. 

For example, algorithms that gather information from employees’ personal social media accounts can feel invasive. Additionally, algorithms can become outdated, applied out of context, or rely on attributes that should remain private. Other AI systems have been employed to monitor employee productivity, which can be harmful to morale as well as invasive to employees.

Companies who use AI technology should develop policies and monitoring systems to provide regulation to machine learning capabilities, and should obviously be in line with GDPR and CCPA legislation. 

3. An over-reliance on AI eliminates the human touch of human resources. 

Human resources should be just that: humans who are resources for other humans. HR professionals should use AI to streamline processes and become more efficient—but they must not lose the human touch altogether. Leaning too heavily on AI can cause the following problems: 

  • Loss of high-quality candidates: Yes, AI can be a valuable tool in the applicant screening process. But it’s important to remember that the most advanced technology still cannot pick up on subtle details in a person’s resume or portfolio. If you remove human recruiters from the applicant screening process entirely, you might be inadvertently disqualifying unique and promising candidates.
  • Isolated and unfulfilled employees: When employees need help from HR, they want to connect with a human being—not a chatbot or a questionnaire. Face-to-face interaction is crucial to maintaining a sense of community and preventing employees from feeling isolated within your company.
  • Insufficient onboarding: As stated earlier, onboarding is the most important process for acclimating new hires. An over-reliance on AI to perform onboarding tasks can make it hard for new employees to feel like a part of the team. If you do use AI in onboarding, make sure to balance it with a healthy dose of personal, hands-on interaction.
  • Lack of employee trust: Trust is established through face-to-face communication between human beings. If you tip the scales too heavily towards AI and automated messaging, you’ll diminish your employees’ trust in your company — or worse, you’ll never earn the trust of new employees. 

With automation and AI software gaining popularity, it can be tempting to hand over as many tasks as possible. But HR, more than any other business practice, is predicated on authentic, personal interaction. AI can help streamline processes—but it’s the people and not technology that make a company what it is.

Key Takeaways on AI in Human Resources

AI has taken great leaps to bridge the gap between data and people, and it’s had a transformative impact on the field of human resources. But if you work in HR, you have no reason to fear losing your job to a machine any time soon. AI should be used in moderation — especially when human interaction is so critical to your job.

Many have adopted the phrase “augmented intelligence,” which refers to the belief that you cannot fully replicate human capabilities through technology. Augmented intelligence encourages us to create and integrate technology to enhance human capability—not replace it.

Contact ZoomInfo today to learn more about improving your B2B recruiting efforts. ZoomInfo TalentOS is the tool you need for more informed hiring decisions.