Human Resources and Artificial Intelligence

Transforming the Employee Experience with AI-Driven Automation for Human Resources

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There’s no doubt that we’re living in the era of the employee. Few industries know this better than Human Resources (HR).

Salary used to be the primary driver of employee satisfaction. That’s no longer the case. According to a recent survey by Fidelity Investments, millennial workers are willing to take an average pay cut of $7,600 (U.S.) for a job that offers an improved quality of work life.

Employees today demand a better experience. Employers unwilling or unable to deliver it lose their best people to those who can and do.

Show me the flexibility!

What does a better employee experience entail? For many it starts with flexibility. A new survey by Modis found that more than 50 percent of adult U.S. workers selected “flexible work hours” as their top workplace benefit; more than free food, unlimited vacation time or paid parental leave.

Additionally, more and more employees expect convenient, personalized access to resources like they receive in their personal lives to be matched wherever and whenever they work. Furthermore, the definition of the “workplace” is changing faster than ever with the introduction of telecommuting, office hoteling and office sharing. These trends show no signs of slowing. A study by Strategy Analytics found that the mobile workforce is on track to make up 42.5 percent of the global workforce by 2022, up from 38.8 percent in 2016.

Improving employee experience isn’t just about flexibility, it offers tangible business benefits as well. Research by Harvard Business Review shows that organizations that invested most heavily in employee experience were 28 times more often listed among Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, listed 2.1 times as often on the Forbes list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies and twice as often found in the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Scaling experience

Historically, Human Resources interacted with employees in a very controlled manner. Engaging with HR was accomplished through preplanned face to face meetings with ample time for HR coordinators to familiarize themselves with an employee’s background role, geography, marital status etc.

Scaling this type of personalized and secure experience across today’s increasingly mobile and global workforce is challenging even the most mature Human Resources departments. For instance, ensuring data security and privacy compliance regarding the appropriate handling of confidential information about candidates, employees and clients becomes more complex when HR processes go digital.

And to further complicate matters, Human Resources organizations have long relied on disparate knowledge base articles, and managed workflows via one-off emails and spreadsheets. As the workplace continues to evolve, these processes have not kept pace.

Thus, HR organizations are quickly discovering that in order to remain effective they must find innovative ways to transform existing processes and tools, allowing them to not only adapt to changing workplace culture and behaviors, but also to improve efficiencies within the HR department.

How can AI help

Through the use of AI technologies, HR coordinators can deflect routine requests to self-service channels, allowing them to bring about positive, innovative change that drives business benefits.

Whether it’s through virtual agent technology, automated case routing and/or predictive analytics, AI-driven automation enables Human Resources organizations to deliver personalized, reliable and secure support 24×7, regardless of employee location.

Virtual agents allow employees to make HR requests and receive answers to common questions in real-time. The most effective virtual agents have access to information from multiple sources/systems of record like WorkDay, ServiceNow and/or Microsoft SharePoint, enabling them to determine the employee’s role, location and prior requests. Additionally, natural language processing and natural language understanding capabilities allow virtual agents to understand the intent of the request in context, helping to ensure the speed, relevance and accuracy of the virtual agent’s responses.

Automated HR case routing that uses advanced machine learning algorithms ensures cases are routed to the right agents, at the right time with the right priority level. This eliminates the need for HR coordinators to manually route and triage cases. Furthermore, by automatically correlating and embedding relevant information (such as knowledge articles) directly into the case record, coordinators can fulfill employee requests faster and more accurately. More importantly, employees have less downtime.

With predictive analytics, HR leaders have valuable insights at their fingertips. Information related to when, where and how employees are consuming HR resources allows Human Resources managers to more effectively measure the health and utilization of their services. In turn, HR departments can optimize processes and workflows as well as improve employee experiences; ensuring all employees have access to the right resources via the right channel at the right time.

AI for HR must haves

HR leaders who are considering an AI system should consider the following must haves:

  • AI for HR must be dynamic and adapt to the ever-changing workplace
  • The AI system must continuously learn and improve, increasing the speed and accuracy of its predictions and recommendations, in real-time
  • The system’s data and learnings must be stored and shared securely and maintain consistency and compliance with HR processes, data security mandates and industry regulations (i.e., PII, SOX, GDPR)

Just as business leaders are investing in cutting edge technologies to improve customer experience outcomes, HR must continuously improve its service delivery models to better scale and optimize the employee experience.

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Robert Young

Robert Young is the Senior Director of Product Marketing at Astound, a company focused on automating IT service and support using AI and NLP. Robert has two decades of experience in ITSM, including 5 years at IDC as Research Director for ITSM and Client Virtualization Software. He also previously held IT operations and knowledge management positions at several large enterprises and while on active duty with the U.S. Air Force. Robert continually looks at how cloud, mobile, and AI technologies are changing not only how users interact with devices, but also how IT organizations interact with their customers.