Emerging technologies are rapidly altering the HR landscape, leading to worrying debates about whether man would soon give way to machines. A case in point is the application of Artificial Intelligence in people management, especially the use of chatbots. Organizations are widely applying AI and automation (especially chatbots) to HR processes in a bid to improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Does this mean that chatbots would soon replace HR professionals? Certainly not. Here’s why.
HR Chatbot Applications
Chatbots are a convenient and conversational technology tool that can be leveraged at every stage of the employee life cycle, from hire to retire-
- Recruitment: Chatbots find relevance for recruitment activities such as sourcing, screening, and selection. Job applicants today are overwhelmed with the information overload, chatbots can help engage with candidates and build relationships by being the first point of contact through query resolution. For example, chatbots are already helping job applicants understand the exact nature of the job role as per their requirement. This helps attract only the best-fits- a great sourcing strategy. Organizations are using AI algorithms to screen the thousands of job applications based on data-parsing and pattern selection. Chatbot-run assessments and simulations are the latest in candidate selection. Because these can be programmed to minimize hiring biases, they are proving a very desirable element for recruitment. Another area is notifications and communication. Candidates often complain of not being informed of the hiring status, here is where chatbots can offer automated notifications and enhance the candidate experience.
- Learning and Development: Chatbots can be used to create micro-interventions for learning at the employee’s point of need. For example, if an employee wants a quick answer on a routine query, he or she dials into the learning chatbot, receives learning, quickly applies the learning on the job and gets the desired results. We may see chatbots replacing certain call centre and customer service functions. Another useful application is new employee onboarding, especially for resolving queries around bank data, tax information and other routine joining elements.
- Employee Engagement: Yet another futuristic application of chatbots is for detecting employee moods through voice recognition technology and natural language processing. Driving employee engagement through sentiments analysis is thus a very real application of chatbots.
Will chatbots replace HR professionals?
Clearly, chatbots are rising to dominance in the HR world. The real question is, “Are they intelligent enough to replace the very people who employ them i.e. the HR professionals?” Machine learning capabilities may be advancing, but they simply do not match the cognitive skills of the human brain- competencies such as experience-based judgement, communication, collaboration, leadership etc. For example, a chatbot can carry out an initial filtering of job applicants, but it operates on a simple decision tree with extremely basic yes-no answers or a limited choice of responses. At the moment chatbots are being used for routine and structured tasks. The reality is that an increasingly complex business environment will continue to demand complex human skills such as dealing with ambiguity and contextual decision making, which chatbots do not deliver. Moreover, if chatbots were to replace HR professionals, it would mean taking the “human element” out of HR- certainly not good for a great employee or candidate experience.
The bottom line is that HR professionals need not worry and should befriend chatbots rather than treat them as foes. Imagine the benefits that HR professionals can gain by employing chatbots to take over mundane tasks, leaving them to do the strategic and value-adding work!
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Written by: Rhucha Kulkarni
An MBA by education, corporate HR professional by experience, a trained naturalist and currently a content creator. Rhucha's Human Resources experience spans across domains such as Learning and Development, HR Business Partnering and Resource Management (Talent Acquisition). Her articles have been featured in People Matters, Huffington Post, Jetwings, Air Arabia, Vistara, Little India, The Hindu- Metroplus.