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Put the ‘human’ back in HR by putting the robot into ‘resource’

Yada yada, robots are coming. Automate everything. *Eyeroll*. Have you heard that enough yet?

It’s not all hype. Automation will impact all departments and functions, including the human resources (HR) department. But, hang on, surely robots can’t invade the ‘human’ resources department? It’s, well, ‘human’.

However, considering the range of services an HR department provides, from talent acquisition to retirement, there’s a wealth of opportunity for automation to put the ‘human’ back in HR and the ‘robot’ into ‘resource’.

Slow adoption

While artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) is a hot media topic, actual adoption of this new technology is slow. Now that price points are falling, adoption will being to increase past a piloting phase to bring about the widescale impact that’s predicted.

Forrester analyst Craig Le Clair told TechTarget that software robots have potential to reduce the number of HR employees. “As many as 20% of HR employees are still doing transactional activities that software robotics can do better.”

PwC released a report stating that, with the proliferation of automation, 63% of CEOs are rethinking the role of their human resource department.

“It’s a time to let the computers do what they do best and let the humans do what we do best,” blogs Karen Higginbottom on Forbes.

What HR functions to automate

HRTechWeekly outlines top five areas for automation as:

  1. Payroll and expense claims
  2. Employee records
  3. Performance management and evaluations
  4. Recruiting and onboarding
  5. Holiday and leave requests

A survey of HR execs by IBM found 46% believe AI will transform talent acquisition and 49% believe it will transform payroll and benefits administration.

Payroll and benefits administration

Payroll and pay integration involves a lot of complex exceptions. This is where Ian Barkin, Chief Strategy Officer at Symphony Ventures, believes there is huge potential.

Speaking during an HR conference, Ian talks about putting the 'human' back in 'human resources' by identifying areas to automate. He says employee payments of insurance and state payments are complex. Because HR employees often use Microsoft Access databases to track payments, it’s a “good automation candidate”. “There are a lot of rules,” he says, “but they are still rules.”

Recruiting and onboarding

Recruitment is another key area where AI is touted to have a huge impact.

AI can learn the qualification requirements for a vacant role to screen and rank candidates. Not only will automation reduce the cost per hire by speeding up the process, it also removes bias: bots don’t discriminate against age, race and sex (well, unless we programme them with our own bias, that is – think Microsoft’s chatbot, Tay).

As well as recruiting talent, the onboarding process is promised to be easier and better with automated creation of employee profiles and even basic FAQs answered by a bot.

As Jeremy Nunn of Forbes’s Technology Council writes in Forbes, “AI technology promises to streamline this process by relying more on analytical processing of huge amounts of data instead of individual observations.”

Using computational linguistics, L’Oreal used SeedLink AI technology to streamline its recruitment process. There are other options such as chatbots and sentiment analysis [PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC), ‘Artificial intelligence in HR: a no-brainer’ report]. As a result, L’Oréal’s job offer ratio for interviewed candidates is up to 82%.

Technological bias

Recruitment specialist PageGroup has been trialling AI technologies. Interestingly, the company found that age contributed to the success of new technology. “We’ve seen a distinction between millennial profiles who feel very comfortable using technology, and older generations who don’t.”

Introducing technology to a recruitment could, purely by its use, create bias towards a younger candidate – exactly the opposite of what using AI promises.

“We’ve had feedback from across our candidate pool that if there’s too much technology, they not only miss the human element, but feel unable to properly assess a company based on their limited interactions,” writes Beverley Knight in HR Magazine.

Although, in other situations, removing the human element is preferable. The BBC reported on the launch of HR chatbot Spot to interview employees about harassment complaints. Being a robot is supposedly beneficial by removing the stigma of making a complaint.

Automation success with HR

As Josh Bersin blogs, the success of an automated HR tool will depend on massive amounts of data to train its system and lots of feedback on how well it works.

One of the only ways to ensure you have lots of feedback on how well it works is to monitor the entire process, not just a single task. Enate’s Robotic Service Orchestration (RSO) product provides simplified service automation and allows you to ‘plug and play’ AI tools while monitoring efficiencies and your return on investment (ROI). Enate futureproofs organisations to implement AI tools by seamlessly interfacing with legacy systems and giving you the feedback you need to make decisions about what to automate next.

Enate is live within weeks. Request a demo now.