​Boost your employee experience with technology

1st November 2018

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How Artificial Intelligence is revolutionising the role of HR

At our recent Business Transformation Summit, Future Workplace expert and best-selling author Jeanne Meister gave a keynote on how technology plays an important role in the employee experience. Here, we reflect on the key messages from Jeanne’s presentation.

When it comes to doing business, why do most of our energies and resources go into pleasing the customer but comparatively little goes into pleasing the employee?

This was Jeanne Meister’s question at the outset and it is an important one. Companies spend millions every year recruiting replacements for top talent who, with the right motivation, might otherwise have stayed and been a real asset to the company.

Much like Martin Lindstrom mentioned in his keynote about the customer experience, it all comes down to positive emotions, which should lie at the heart of any employee experience.

“The last best experience anyone has becomes the minimum expectation for the experiences they want anywhere,” says Jeanne.

So, to attract and retain good talent, we need to focus on creating a positive experience for our employees in much the same way we create a positive experience for our customers. The same goes for the recruitment process, too.

A brave new world

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already changing the way we recruit and develop talent in our organisations. You may not be aware of this because, according to Future Workplace research, only 6% of HR functions are currently using AI to aid recruitment. This is mainly because most managers don’t yet understand the benefits, so are reluctant to invest.

A common concern surrounding AI is that it will become so sophisticated and human-like that countless jobs will be lost as a result. But this misses the point. AI is designed to augment existing jobs, not replace them entirely.

AI is currently used to assist HR professionals in the recruitment process and manage talent mobility, as well as make L&D more personalised. The aim is to actually make HR systems more human and keep people informed, whereas traditional approaches tend to be less personable.

For example, when a candidate spends a lot of their time applying for a job, they will often receive an automated reply, if they receive anything at all. AI helps to automatically inform a candidate where they stand in the process, which creates a more positive experience.

The beauty here is that the personable response requires no human interaction, so no money or time is spent making this happen, aside from the initial investment in the AI software.

Using AI for talent mobility

IBM is a well-known IT company and respected across the industry. It was an early innovator and played an important part in the history of computer development. But, with the arrival of big tech companies like Facebook and Google, they are no longer seen as the cool kids on the block. Since most of IBM’s employees are software engineers, retaining talent had become a real problem. Until recently.

IBM realised that it had to do something drastic to stop its best talent from moving to other, more ‘glamorous’ companies. So they developed ‘Proactive Retention’ – an AI-driven programme that analyses employee data on aspects such as location, title and salary, along with information on promotion history, employee sentiment and relationship with management. The analysis flags up any talent that, according to the algorithm, may be looking to exit the company, which allows managers to intervene and offer the employee some mobility or address any concerns.

The inspiration for this initiative came from LinkedIn, which often knows more about a company’s employees than the management. If you think about it, LinkedIn has so much data on our employee’s career history as well as what they like and search for. Management can get to know employees better simply by asking for this information, which becomes extremely valuable in the long run.

Meet the bot

AI is also being used to source, screen and interview potential employees.

Recruiters for Hilton Hotels receive thousands of applications every day from people eager to work for their company. This is naturally a burden on their recruitment staff who, before the introduction of AI into the process, would take up to 6 weeks to lead a candidate from application to job offer.

Today, Hilton use AI to interview customers at the initial stage of recruitment. A sophisticated chatbot responds to a candidate’s input and answers any questions they may have. The bot can even interview the candidate on video, as it is programmed to understand the kind of answers that recruiters are looking for and even detect levels of enthusiasm!

Once this process is complete, AI software selects the most suitable candidates and presents the data to recruiters who then take over.

You may think that AI, being a robot without human intuition, would fail to select the right candidates. However, AI is often better at presenting a diverse range of candidates with the credentials and attributes that human recruiters miss. Perhaps the recruiters are distracted, don’t have time to read applications in depth or are biased.

Candidates seem to love the process, too, because they get a fair hearing and get to know how they have fared straight away, instead of wondering whether they have been successful.

Since introducing AI, time to recruitment at Hilton Hotels has been reduced by a staggering 85% and now takes as little as one week.

The way ahead

Research by McKinsey shows that in around 60% of jobs, 30% of what employees do can be automated. This shouldn’t mean that 30% of people will be made redundant. Instead, it means those people get 30% more time to do more important work and do it more productively. Everybody wins.

Ultimately, AI makes for a better recruitment and employee experience as it can easily highlight aspirations as well as concerns, allowing managers to take the necessary action.

And IBM? In the four years since they rolled out ‘Proactive Retention’, they have saved $130 million in recruitment costs, simply by retaining and mobilising their best talent. All because of AI.

The exciting thing is that, with only 6% of organisations adopting AI in the employee experience, your organisation gets to be an early adopter if you act now.

Where do you begin?

Start with the WHY. What problems do you want to solve with AI? Next, think about how you will solve these problems using AI and who you want to bring along on the journey. Decide which proof of concept you want to test and develop, then measure results to see if it works.

Still concerned about AI? If you look at success as a collaboration between technology and humans, rather than technology as human replacements, you will be onto a winner. Invest in AI now to improve the employee experience and the benefits will follow.

As Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee wrote for Harvard Business Review – “Over the next decade, AI won’t replace managers. But those managers who use AI will replace those that don’t.”

If you need help transforming your employee experience and training your people to make it happen, talk to Cegos about how we can help.