Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the use of computer software and systems to perform tasks that require human intelligence by interpreting external data, learning from it and using that data to perform a task successfully (Ahmed, 2018). AI can perform tasks such as learning, reasoning and problem-solving. AI systems are unique since they are programmed to learn and improve their performances from experience, accuracy, adaptability, and speed. In Human Resources (HR), AI is used to make the recruitment process more streamlined, to improve the engagement of the employees with the company and to elevate the overall HR roles and responsibilities.
AI was first used in HR in the early 2010s when companies’ HR departments began employing AI systems in their functionalities. In the early 2010s, AI-powered HR systems were created for recruitment, employee engagement and human appraisal reasons. In the mid-2010s, the systems were made more advanced to make the employee experiences personalized with the use of virtual assistants which could help the employees source personalized information and have their queries answered in the workplace (Jatoba et al. 2019). Since 2010, AI has developed to include functions such as analyzing employee data, conducting virtual interviews and analyzing resumes. It is also used in employee engagement and conducting performance appraisals thus making the HR processes more personalized, accurate, time-conscious and effective.
Functions and Characteristics of AI and its Usage in HR
In recruitment, AI is used to streamline the hiring process by making it automatic. The main characteristic of AI is its ability to learn from experience and use those experiences to enhance its performance with time. As a result, AI is used to screen interviews and resumes for employees based on the training data that has been fed into the system (Guencole & Feinzig, 2018). Besides AI chatbots can learn from existing data hence making it possible for them to be used to engage with new employees and candidates to gauge their qualifications and suitability for a role. During recruitment, HR can use AI to go through social media profiles, do an analysis of resumes and handle interviews online to identify the most promising candidates for a job. Similarly, it is used to identify high-potential employees for a role and develop a talent management plan for them as they become employees of the company.
Besides, AI is accurate hence it is used to analyze employee data for the identification of trends, patterns and insights that may be missed by human data scientists. From the identified trends and patterns, HR can personalize the experiences of employees in the company (Ahmed, 2018). It also makes it possible for the employees to get real-time feedback, get an appraisal of their performance and provide personalized learning opportunities. As a result, AI is used to increase the engagement of the employees with the company by providing real-time information based on the employee’s queries and issues they have at the workplace.
Importance to HR today and the future
Given the advancements in technology and the changing business landscape, AI has become a very important entity to HR currently and it proves that it will be more important in the future. Companies that have adopted AI have remained competitive and they have attracted and retained top talent (Guencole & Feinzig, 2018). More so, they have become more efficient in terms of communication and their decision-making processes. AI helps HR professionals to identify the most suitable candidates for the job and save time during the analysis of resumes. In the future, HR will be in dire need of AI efficacy as technology advances. AI chatbots and virtual assistants may become more incorporated in the workplace to handle the requests of the employees and answer their inquiries as soon as they are asked (Rana, 2018).
Challenges faced by companies attempting or currently adopting AI in HR
Companies are at risk of using biased AI systems which may provide discriminatory information and analyses. AI systems may be biased if they are fed biased data. They may also be biased if the algorithm they use does not account for factors that hugely affect the employees (Rana, 2018). For instance, in cases of selection and recruitment, the AI may fail to account for factors that unfairly represent certain groups, for instance, gender and race. The system could be made worse if there is an existing feedback loop that may solidify the biases so that certain candidate groups are favoured over others.
More so, employees may begin resisting the use of AI in their operations since they think that the AI has come to take their jobs or interfere with their privacy. The employees may feel like AI will compromise their privacy and take their personal information without their consent thus making them fail to embrace AI in their work processes. Insecurity would arise especially among the employees who do manual jobs that could be replaced by automation. The employees could also feel like they do not trust that AI can make good decisions especially if they have not used such a system before. The employees could believe that human intuition and empathy are better than AI in decision-making and, therefore, feel like they should not use it.
To handle the challenges that come with adopting AI in HR, companies should involve employees in their decision-making processes in AI and train them to help them know how AI operates and how they can benefit from using it. The AI used in the company should also be fair to ensure that there is no bias so that all the employees are treated fairly (Rana, 2018). Besides, the employees should be involved in the designing and implementation of AI systems so that their needs are identified and handled when the system is being formulated.
Lesson learnt and personal reflection on the topic of AI in HR
AI is bringing a revolution in HR and its adoption is very essential for companies that are looking to maintain a competitive edge in their operations as well as have a more efficient HR body. Even if the companies that adopt HR are faced with challenges in the process, they can navigate the challenges by including the employees in the company’s decision-making processes regarding AI and becoming transparent when training the employees to assure them that they can better their work processes while working with AI rather than feel insecure that it would take their jobs.
Undoubtedly, AI is a key tool in current and future HR functions. It is accurate, adaptable, and fast and its learning nature makes it best versed to handle HR functions such as recruitment, selection, employee engagement and performance appraisals. However, it may make the employees feel insecure that their jobs will be replaced by AI, feel that their privacy is invaded and the systems may be biased such that they are discriminatory. Companies should, therefore, train their employees on the uses of AI and involve them in the formulation of the system to make them secure in their jobs and use the system to better their work performances.
Ahmed, O. (2018). Artificial intelligence in HR. International Journal of Research and Analytical Reviews, 5(4), 971-978. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/SHR-12-2018-0104/full/htm
Guenole, N., & Feinzig, S. (2018). The business case for AI in HR. With Insights and Tips on Getting Started. Armonk: IBM Smarter Workforce Institute, IBM Corporation. https://forms.workday.com/content/dam/web/en-us/documents/case-studies/ibm-business-case-ai-in-hr.pdf
Jatobá, M., Santos, J., Gutierriz, I., Moscon, D., Fernandes, P. O., & Teixeira, J. P. (2019). Evolution of artificial intelligence research in human resources. Procedia Computer Science, 164, 137-142. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877050919322045
Rana, D. (2018). The future of HR in the presence of AI: A conceptual study. The Future of HR in the Presence of AI: A Conceptual Study (November 24, 2018). https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3335670