How AI-Powered Chatbots are Transforming HR Practices
Intuitive virtual assistants. Self-driven cars. Healthcare robots.
These are just some of the ingenious applications of AI across the spectrum. Truth be told, there are very few industries and sectors in which AI has not yet made its presence felt.
In fact, the onset of Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of AI-powered technological tools to facilitate speed and efficiency; and the HR department is no exception. This brings us to the next important question:
“Is there a need for AI in your HR department?”
The short answer is yes.
The nature of the global workforce is undergoing a sea change, with more and more millennials working remotely and across geographically distributed areas. This dynamic change has given rise to the wide-spread adoption of data-led AI tools and technologies, including bots, and is reshaping the face of HR as we know it. Here’s what the data tells us:
- Widespread adoption: As per research by Deloitte, “33% of surveyed HR teams are using some form of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to deliver HR solutions, and 41% are actively building mobile apps to deliver HR service.”
- Greater insights into employee churn: Further data claims that “AI technology can even predict when employees are likely to resign, with a staggering 95% accuracy.”
- Greater trust in AI than managers: A recent Oracle study claims that “64% of people would trust a robot more than their manager and half have turned to a robot instead of their manager for advice.”
- Changing dynamics between people-technology: The same study suggests that “65% of workers are optimistic, excited, and grateful for having robot co-workers.”
Needless to say, AI is the future of HR, and the future is now. Before we jump into the vital role that AI-led chatbots can play in diverse HR functions, let’s look at the important factors keep in mind when leveraging this innovative technology.
Top-4 Criteria to Consider Before Leveraging Chatbots in the HR Field
- Information security: Your chatbot’s security is of prime importance since it holds sensitive employee information. Hence, make sure that the chatbot technology you use is fully secure and encrypted, and the data doesn’t leak through the corporate firewall. Remember that there are numerous models available to choose from – On-premise, hybrid, and Cloud deployment, to name a few.
- Bots should be legally-sound: Your HR bot needs to adhere to the company ethics and policies and should account for the various legalities that come into the big picture. To that end, your bot should never answer any questions related to legal and ethical entities of your company as these are complex matters and need human assistance to drive accurate resolution.
- Extensible bots are worth every penny: Your enterprise’s functionalities and capabilities will grow with time, as should your bot. This is why choosing the right AI chatbot technology is key, which allows you to train your bots with more skills as your company evolves.
- Bots should manage audit logs: Your bot should consistently document – and easily extract – all employee interactions – should the information be needed for future auditing purposes.
6 POWERFUL WAYS TO REDEFINE YOUR HR PRACTICES WITH AI-POWERED CHATBOTS
1. Seamless New Employee Onboarding & Customized Experiences: The Best of All the Worlds
Imagine if your onboarding experience was truly self-service driven, your HR team could optimize their time, effort, and resources towards other complex jobs such as finding quality talent to start with. Why not use chatbots to offer a helping hand?
- Chatbots as mobile, virtual HR assistants: Chatbots can converse with existing and new employees and offer 24×7 customized guidance such as offering relevant HR information which includes company best-practices and process knowledge, data related to employee benefits, and FAQs:
- Chatbots as a rich knowledge bank and a handy HR guide: They can address basic (and repetitive) employee questions such as “How many leaves do I have left?” or “Can you send me January’s pay-slip?” etc., facilitate basic features such as allowing employees to mark vacation/sick leaves themselves, and help save time and effort for the HR managers as well as the employees:
- Chatbots as problem-solvers: Most employees would agree that finding the right HR person to deal with their problem in a hierarchy-led enterprise is a big pain-point. In such cases, the bot can offer instant answers. Otherwise, where the bot is unable to help, especially for legal topics such as ‘Health benefits,’ etc., it can redirect employees to the relevant HR personnel to take care of these complex issues:
- Here’s an example of a mobile-friendly HR onboarding chat application:
Key takeaway: Chatbots, if trained well, can empower employees to self-serve and proactively perform a set of routine tasks that don’t require the intervention of an HR manager – from educating new employees about company policies and delivering details about salary documentation to assisting users in taking casual/sick leaves and throwing light on the current benefits that an employee has; an all-round HR bot is a boon in today’s times.
2. Admin Task Automation that Facilitates ‘Smart’ Working
Workplace automation is on the rise, with “60% of companies planning to boost their use of workplace automation in 2020,” according to the Global Talent Trends 2019 report.
Clearly, businesses are beginning to understand the vast benefits of going the automated route, especially when it comes to powering ‘transactional’ tasks (think: employee-centric communications, onboarding, monitoring payroll, etc.) within the HR department.
With AI-powered chatbot integration (especially with your company’s CRM), recruiters can breathe easy. Let’s face it. The tedious hiring process that comes with incessant sourcing, resume screening, and coordination tasks for a large cesspool of potential hires can be tiresome (especially for seasonal and temporary workers). This is where chatbots come in handy. They can:
- Gather prospective employee information.
- Assist candidates in identifying relevant job openings:
- Help employees navigate through the benefits enrollment process.
- Help candidates complete application forms.
- Allow employees to register for company events or training sessions.
- Work round-the-clock without getting tired or going for coffee breaks.
- Perform accurate and quick background checks.
- Streamline communications with employees and answer basic questions (think: vacation leaves, health benefits, payroll inquiries, etc.):
- Be integrated with popular and already-in-use workplace communication platforms such as Slack, Workplace from Facebook, Skype for Business, etc.
Key takeaway: Since the chatbots (literally) take over the repetitive admin work, the recruiters can redirect their energies towards finding the right talent, driving strategic initiatives, and engaging candidates in a qualitative manner. Plus, chatbot help keep the HR processes going – irrespective of public holidays, weekends, etc.
3. Conversational AI Fosters Employee Training
Monitoring and driving employee training is a vital part of day-to-day HR operations. At any given point in time, your employees may have important questions relating to their training sessions, such as:
“How many training leaves did I take in the last six months?”
“How can I register for this new [XYZ] course?”
“What is the training cost for [ABC] course?”
Your chatbot can be programmed to answer all these questions and more. That’s not all. HR chatbots can also be used to drive interactive and immersive HR training sessions where the employees get to participate actively instead of sleeping through lengthy training videos or watching a static (and boring) power-point presentation. Alternatively, the HR managers can use HR bots such as Branch Messenger to post videos, images, or text related to the training sessions on the Activity Feed:
Key takeaway: The conversational HR chatbots of today can drive mobile-friendly, on-demand onboarding, and training experience for employees and help in overall learning and development. As you can imagine, this leaves your HR managers with more time to focus on building creative and strategic HR initiatives that a bot cannot do just as yet.
4. Share Internal Company Information, On-Demand & Seamlessly
When it comes to HR, everyone has questions – from the employees and partners to the new recruits and the HR managers themselves. Often times, given the sheer volume of work that the HR team is overburdened with, human error is a possibility –
Error in terms of sharing incorrect information.
Error in terms of forgetting to share internal information.
Error in terms of informational gaps that occur due to exhaustion and stress.
You get the drift, right?
Your HR chatbot can conveniently and instantly share accurate and real-time company information via widely-used platforms such as Slack, Workplace, etc.
This allows your employees to always ‘be-in-the-know’ and stay looped into current trends, organizational developments, among other things:
Key takeaway: Chatbots greatly lower the probability of human error when disseminating information since they extract real-time information from an HRIS or knowledge base.
5. Simplified & Speedy Recruitment Process
“68% of employees believe that their experience as a job candidate reflects how the company treats its people.”
AI-powered chatbots are trained to collect and analyze real-time data based on past interactions. This allows the bot to address candidate questions instantly, in context, and accurately. Furthermore, the bots can screen candidates effectively depending on the predefined criteria fed into its system. Consider the following example:
Moreover, bots bring unparalleled speed to the table – from speeding up interview requests to identifying new candidates in the recruiter’s pipeline:
Additionally, bots allow for seamless one-on-one communication with a candidate using their preferred choice of communication, aka instant messaging (similar to being on platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp). Chatbots can engage with candidates in a two-way communication enquiring about their professional experience, addressing the prospect’s questions, and gathering critical prospect data.
Key takeaway: Long story short, AI-powered bots can streamline and customize the HR process for temporary, part-time, seasonal, as well as full-time employees.
6. Ability to Measure Employee Satisfaction Levels & Engage in Predictive Analytics for Tackling Employee Retention
By now, we’ve established how chatbots can free up time for HR managers to focus on tasks that are actually productive and require a ‘human touch’ such as upskilling, engaging in employee training, driving the company culture, etc. Naturally, these quality tasks boost employee work happiness and satisfaction – considering that the HR team member is no longer stuck crunching numbers and filling in routine data that can easily be automated.
If you’re wondering about how to measure your employee experience, here too, chatbots can help. These bots help review employee morale and work satisfaction levels. Consider the following scenario for a second:
Say you’ve integrated your chatbot with Slack. The bot can be used to roll out automated HR-centric messages and conduct surveys to gather real-time feedback and analyze employee sentiments. Based on the valuable data collected, the HR manager can make the necessary alterations to the HR policy or reach out to employees to address their issues:
Key takeaway: HR chatbot allow employees to offer instant feedback relating to workplace happiness, performance insights, etc. and empower them to voice their concerns without any fear or apprehension.
WRAPPING UP: AI Chatbots Lay the Foundation for a Modernized HR System
AI adoption in the HR field is no longer restricted to Sci-Fi movies or even an engineer’s imagination. It’s high time that organizations begin to invest in creating fully-functional 360-degree HR bots that can offer a plethora of business and employee benefits.
To wrap up, the HR industry is ripe for AI adoption, and chatbots are proving to be an effective investment across diverse areas of HR, such as:
- Facilitating new employee onboarding and offering customized experiences
- Automating administrative tasks and freeing up the recruiter’s valuable time
- Engaging in seamless and convenient employee training
- Making the process of sharing internal company information friction-free and easy to access
- Simplifying the recruitment process from end-to-end
- Allowing for measuring employee satisfaction levels with greater ease and enabling predictive analytics to bolster employee retention
In essence, HR bots can lend a helping hand at every step of the HR process – so long as organizations are ready to ‘extend their hands’ and work in collaboration. Thoughts?
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