This post was written by Dylan Kohlstadt
Artificial intelligence (AI) is coming for your job. Or is it?
According to Eightfold.ai’s 2021 survey of human resource (HR) managers in the United States, almost 82% of human resources (HR) teams will adopt AI tools into their talent management processes between 2021 and 2025. Research by Deloitte also found that 38% of companies believe AI will be fully implemented within their businesses over the next five years.
Artificial intelligence is impacting industries and companies worldwide. However, it doesn’t have to spell doom and gloom for human resources. The question is: how could artificial intelligence transform human resources? And, perhaps more importantly, will it transform HR negatively or positively? To answer this question, let’s start with the basics.
According to Investopedia, artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence in machines. These machines are programmed to rationalise and mimic human thought and actions to achieve a specific goal. They do this through automated statistical analysis.
A significant point in the history of artificial intelligence came in 1950 when Alan Turing published a paper examining the mathematical probability of such a concept. The paper began with Turing announcing its goal: to answer the question, “Can machines think?” Back in the 1950s, computers did not have the capabilities to prove Turing right but fast forward to 1957, and there is an innovative program titled “The Logic Theorist”. This program initialised the proof of concept.
More innovation, more computer storage, and many years later, we have the artificial intelligence we know today. Examples of modern-day artificial intelligence include Apple’s Smart Assistant Siri, autocorrect, facial recognition, e-payments, and chatbots.
According to PWC, 54% of business executives say that artificial intelligence has increased productivity for their businesses. From automating tedious tasks to onboarding new staff, AI offers many benefits for human resources. These include:
Efficiency is particularly beneficial within talent acquisition, where recruiters are swamped under an incredibly high volume of applications. AI can assist with all aspects of the process, from job posting to screening applicants and even identifying candidates most suited to the position. LinkedIn Talent Solutions published a report on how companies use AI to attract talent. The report identified that “saving time” was the most significant benefit in the recruiting process (67%).
“AI can be very good at relieving the mundane, repetitive tasks of HR professionals,” says Michelle Brown, chief operating officer at Pinsight. She goes on to acknowledge the flip side of that coin. “But, often on the other side of that repetitive mundane task is a person in a high-stakes interaction about securing the job of their dreams or navigating confusing healthcare benefits for a sick family member.”
As Brown points out, HR managers must tread lightly when utilising AI for repetitive tasks. While it’s a benefit for the employer, it could also negatively impact employees who wish they could communicate directly with a human being instead of clicking their way through a form or system. It’s worth researching to find the right AI tools for your company’s needs – don’t neglect to consider the competence and availability of the customer support team, either. You might need them to set up the AI technology successfully or if technical issues arise.
If you’re wondering if AI is a worthwhile effort in this situation, consider that in the United States alone, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received more than 61,000 reports of discrimination in the workplace during 2021. In South Africa, Stats SA reported significant differences between the social protection given to men and the social protection given to women in the workplace. For more insights on this, read Stats SA’s report on how the labour market is more favourable to men than women.