Three ways AI and automation are redefining HR

Over recent years, software capable of independently performing business tasks and cloud services with built-in artificial intelligence have started to become a reality in the office. This trend is affecting HR departments just as much as the general workforce. There are three areas in particular where the impact of these technologies is set to fundamentally change how HR professionals go about their work, each of which is evolving in a different direction.

Recruiting

The first area where traditional HR practices are undergoing a transformation is recruiting. The past few years have seen the tech industry start reinventing practically every step of the talent acquisition process, starting with job postings.

One timely example is Textio. The company, which recently landed a hefty funding round, sells a service that can provide writing advice for HR professionals looking to advertise an opening. If the sentences in a job posting are too long or contain terms that could set off an applicant’s buzzword detector, Textio will offer up change recommendations. Other services take it a step further by using AI to directly match openings with candidates who are likely to be a good fit.

The latter technology is at an early point on the adoption curve, but investors are betting a lot of money that it will spread. Hired, Workey and Clustree are three of the startups driving the trend forward. Their respective services analyze every detail in a candidate’s resume to determine how well they are suited for a given position. Often, the evaluation also takes into account historical data collected from other postings. The goal is to spare HR professionals the hassle of manually filtering applications, which can be a significant time saver.

Internal communications

As services like Textio help streamline candidate management, the way HR departments interact with existing employees is changing as well. The bulk of the credit goes not to some recent breakthrough but rather a technology that has been around since the 1990s: instant messaging.

Chat is becoming a legitimate tool for business communications.

It started a few years ago with the emergence of modern messaging providers such as Slack. They figured out that removing the formalities historically involved in communicating with colleagues can save time, and created business versions of what was until recently a consumer-centric concept. HR departments have thus found themselves with a much more convenient alternative to email for disseminating information.

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At some point along the way, Slack also started tackling the other chores historically involved in office life. The service, like its top competitors, now offers access to an extensive selection of third party extensions for automating various tasks.

GoCo’s Slack app, for example, can provide a heads-up before someone is about to go on leave and remind personnel of forthcoming company holidays. Another extension called Polly makes it possible to conduct employee satisfaction polls with a few clicks. And then there are the chatbots, the AI-powered virtual assistants at the center of the whole trend. They replicate the conversational approach that Apple pioneered with Siri to let users fetch a file or carry out chores with natural-language commands.

The core workflow

As the march of technology continues, bots are moving beyond the team chat room to the processes at the very heart of an HR department’s operations. One of the flag bearers of the movement is a San Francisco-based startup called Mya Systems. It has developed a virtual assistant that can conduct job interviews.

Mya’s AI is naturally quite limited compared to a human. It’s only capable of tasks such as asking pre-determined questions about a candidate’s credentials and then schedule a meeting with a manager if they’re a good fit. But that’s still enough to free up a tremendous amount of time for an HR department, particularly when other chatbots are involved. A company can now set up a bot to help with interviews, another to filter resumes and a third to answer common HR questions from employees.

Taken together, chatbots and the other new technologies being introduced into the workforce will bring massive changes to human resource management. HR departments must to adjust their operations accordingly while also keeping up with the evolving needs of employees, who will be impacted just as much by the shift.

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