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Susy AlfaroFebruary 1, 20249 min read

Revolutionizing talent management: the impact of AI in Human Resources

An HR leader at a startup ran an organizational listening tour to understand how all members of her team felt about the company. She had one hurdle, though: she was leaving on holiday in 10 days. She was able to run the tour, create a six-month roadmap, get it approved and implemented within nine days. 

How? you ask. Simple: she used AI. 

Okay, maybe not that simple. She used a combination of AI tools in a way that allowed her and her team to focus on what mattered. They could be efficient about the admin tasks that would take up most of their time. 

She left for her holidays knowing that she and her team had finished work that would’ve traditionally taken them days, weeks, or even months. And it was already benefiting the company. 

This story came up in a 15five webinar about AI in HR and the future of work. I was struck by the sheer power that these tools are bringing to the people ops world. AI can increase the efficiency of HR professionals in so many ways. Embracing AI in HR workflows has allowed HR teams to focus on what really matters: excelling at connecting and serving the people in their organization. 

In the end, that’s why you go into people and culture, isn’t it? 

At this point, you might be thinking: “That’s great, but I don’t know much about AI.” Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’re going to break down the what, why, and how of AI. It's the ideal tool to let you focus on what really matters in your role as a people ops leader. 

Let’s do this.

 

Generative and predictive AI: a breakdown

Artificial intelligence provides machines with the capacity to perform functions that previously required human capabilities—such as logic, reasoning, planning, learning, and perception—through algorithms and machine learning. 

Generative AI:

Generative AI machines are systems designed to mimic human intelligence for specific tasks. The most common example of a generative AI is ChatGPT. Once it receives a prompt, ChatGPT can analyze content for patterns and create something that sounds human. You can ask it to build all kinds of specific text-based tasks. For example, generating a plan, summarizing meeting notes, or doing the sentiment analysis from my earlier example.

Predictive AI:

On the other hand, predictive AI refers to the use of machines to identify, analyze, and break down patterns in past events and general trends. With that information, it can make predictions about what’s going to happen in the future. You may use it to keep a pulse on the recruitment market. Also, to identify key trends to monitor. Or to evaluate whether a specific candidate is a good fit for a role, based on their resume.

Generative and predictive AI have opened a new way to work. They enhance decision-making, streamline operations, and transform HR practices. This leaves more space for creative thinking and implementation. 

 

AI's role in the modern HR landscape

AI has so many uses. It depends on who is using them and how.

Some of the more significant uses of AI in HR include:

1. Talent acquisition and recruitment

AI in HR is mainly used to automate resume screening, identify suitable candidates, and enhance your entire recruitment strategy. AI ensures no candidate falls through the cracks due to human error or fatigue. Moreover, AI-driven evaluation processes reduce human bias in decision-making. This creates an equitable recruitment process.

On the recruitment side, it can identify the best places to find candidates for different jobs and work with them along the way. It can personalize communication to keep candidates interested. It can even help you create detailed profiles of ideal candidates.

ChatGPT's response when prompted with "Write a job post for an HR business partner who has worked in technology, who is passionate about learning and development, who has spent time in multinational organizations, and who knows people analytics"

 ChatGPT writes a job description for an HR business partner. Source: https://textio.com/blog/chatgpt-writes-job-posts/99089591200

2. Employee onboarding and training

Providing personalized training plans, automating administrative tasks, and offering virtual assistants to answer common employee queries improves onboarding and training.

Moreover, AI chatbots act as round-the-clock HR assistants, providing quick answers to employees’ questions about leave policies, benefits, and other HR concerns. This not only enhances the employee experience but also helps new employees feel supported and welcomed.

An onboarding plan for new content marketing managers starting at a FinTech company, generated by ChatGPT.An onboarding plan for new content marketing managers starting at a FinTech company, generated by ChatGPT.

ChatGPT writes an onboarding plan for a new content marketing manager starting at a FinTech company. Source: chat.openai.com

3. Employee engagement and satisfaction

AI allows managers to monitor employee performance and identify areas for improvement. With it, you can analyze employee sentiment through surveys, social media or other sources to measure overall satisfaction levels. Once you have a pulse on your team, you can then suggest appropriate training content to help them grow and stay engaged. It also makes sure all your decisions are data-driven and objective, so you and your team can focus on solutions.

 A sample engagement dashboard a people leader can get about their team. Source: lattice.com

4. Performance management

Evaluate employee performance by analyzing data on key performance indicators (KPIs). Provide real-time feedback. Suggest personalized development plans. This can contribute to fairer and more data-driven performance assessments.

AI can also be an excellent channel to provide anonymity to employees. This allows them to provide honest feedback throughout the team.

An example of how managers can provide anonymous feedback via Lattice.

A demo of employee feedback through private, anonymous loops. Constant, honest feedback helps leaders ensure they're doing what's best for their team. Source: lattice.com

 

AI and HR teams: working together

A very common question in almost every field when we talk about AI is: “Is this robot going to take my job?” and hey, it’s a valid question. We’ve all heard since we were kids that someday robots are going to take over the world, right? 

In reality, though, the integration of AI in the HR function is not about replacing human effort. It's about augmenting it. It is a tool, not a full-fledged professional.

It allows you to focus on making HR a more iterative process. You have access to data-driven dashboards that can inform decisions. It makes every single initiative you run more transparent and trusted by employees. It’s also a constant lookout that will help you address issues that may be coming up before they even reach you.

Long story short: AI allows HR professionals to focus on being creative. It takes away countless desk hours on administrative tasks, letting you reconnect with your team.

 

The human element in AI-driven HR

As exciting as the advancements in AI are, it’s crucial to remember that human resources is about people. Maintaining the human touch in HR processes is paramount, even as we adopt advanced technology. 

AI should be a partner, not a replacement, in HR. 

Balancing tech and touch

In an AI-driven HR department, striking a balance between HR technology and human touch is critical. Technology brings efficiency and data-driven insights. However, the human touch ensures that these benefits respect culture and individual needs. This balance can be achieved by focusing on human interaction at every stage of the employee lifecycle. This means emphasizing communication and personalizing interactions. It also means using technology wisely and continuously evaluating strategies.

 

Navigating the challenges of implementing AI in HR

While the benefits of AI in HR are plenty, implementing AI is not without its challenges. These include ethical considerations, data privacy concerns, and resistance to change.

Ethical considerations and bias mitigation

We might like to think of AI as a separate entity from humans. However, all the data it consumes and uses to create is based on content made by humans. So, it has an inherent bias that it may be unaware of and for which you need to be vigilant. 

A clear example was when Textio ran an experiment where they asked ChatGPT to write some job descriptions. They went from the very generic to the more specific. One thing that kept coming up throughout the exercise was the inherent gender, racial, and age bias that some of these listings contained. 

What was even more interesting is that some of these contained keywords that, although not openly discriminatory, were terms that people of certain intersectionalities would avoid when looking for a job.

Examples of the social biases of 167 job posts that were written by ChatGPT.

Social bias across 167 job posts written by ChatGPT. Source: https://textio.com/blog/chatgpt-writes-job-posts/99089591200

Things got even more interesting when they went back a week later. They asked ChatGPT to write performance feedback for different professions. With a simple prompt like “Write feedback for a helpful mechanic”, ChatGPT’s use of pronouns was 90% masculine. For a kindergarten teacher, it was 100% female. 

A chart demonstrating the gender biases in performance feedback written by ChatGPT.

Gender bias in performance feedback written by ChatGPT. Source: https://textio.com/blog/chatgpt-writes-performance-feedback/99766000464

For this and many more reasons, it is imperative that you always have a feedback loop. Never assume that AI can give you a final piece of content to share unchecked. Let's return to the example from the beginning of this blog. The first HR team leader checked every step of the AI's plan with her team. They made sure it aligned with their values and goals before proceeding.

As Ann Handley said in a recent webinar by MarketingProfs: “We can’t give over writing to AI, because writing is thinking!” The same goes for your HR policies. human resources is a human job, so you need a human to check it.

Makes sense, right?

Data privacy and security in AI systems

My coworker was just telling us a story about someone they knew. They’d taken all of their meeting notes, including sensitive information, and dropped it into ChatGPT. They wanted it to summarize the notes, bring out key topics, and identify action items to move forward. Unsurprisingly, this constituted a data breach. Now, that information was searchable within ChatGPT and accessible to anyone. Including their competition. That person lost their job.

Data privacy is a significant concern when implementing AI in HR. There’s a risk that sensitive employee information could be misused or data security breached. 

It is extremely important to mitigate these risks. HR departments must enforce strict data privacy policies. They should use firewalls to control access. They should also train employees on the secure usage of AI. 

As I mentioned before, AI is a tool. Make sure you set up proper guidelines for its use.

 

Preparing for a workforce augmented by AI

Generative AI technologies are developing rapidly. As a result, McKinsey now estimates that work automation will happen between 2030 and 2060, an entire decade ahead of their previous projection. 

AI is a cultural phenomenon that has come to reshape how we do many tasks. No matter how you slice it, AI affects everything from searching for the best tickets online to setting up a six-month plan for an entire organization. This is why it’s essential to prepare your teams for a workforce that is augmented by AI. 

Focus on training your teams. Keep an open mind about what these tools can do to assist you in delivering stronger human connections in your people operations initiatives. 

Take the time off of note-taking and focus on listening during meetings. Avoid spending hours and days sifting through data to be able to determine common topics. Hand all of that to AI. Focus on what's important: improving the human experience of the people at your organization. Be the best HR professional that you can be.

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Susy Alfaro

Susy Alfaro is the content marketing manager at ZayZoon. When Susy's not showing employers how to create better employee experiences through her content, she's sewing fashion-forward accoutrement and dancing with her cat.

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