Artificial Intelligence (AI): Reshaping the HR landscape

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in HR may seem contradictory. After all, the H in HR stands for ‘human’! But the latest advances in AI are reshaping the role of HR and a shift in the way businesses operate.

Within this article we aim to give you a flavour of what’s to come, the benefits of AI, why we believe AI is an opportunity for HR and not a threat and top tips on how to make the most of AI in your business.

Two areas AI will make an impact

We focus on two main areas in which AI will be making the most impact and where we believe the real value will be for SMEs, if used correctly!

  1. Integrated AI within HR platforms
  2. The role of AI in the recruitment process

Many people think of AI as being a robot replacing humans. But fear not, you won’t find a white animatronic machine in your office…anytime soon!

Rather, AI is used in a variety of ways to augment human capabilities and make better informed HR decisions. It can also streamline operations, processes and creates an engaging workplace experience by using technologies such as machine learning and predictive analytics. And it also helps automate routine (and some might say dull) tasks.

Instead of replacing your HR function, AI frees it’s time to concentrate on assisting the people within your team. And we can all agree, I’m sure, that this is a much better result for everyone!

Is AI in HR new?

Using AI for HR might sound like a vision of the future. But the reality is that AI has slowly been integrated in HR functions for some time. This is especially so in multinational businesses.

According to a report in Forbes business magazine, Google researchers used an early version of AI in a programme developed back in 2008. Project Oxygen assessed what would make a great manager and the resulting data helped improve management at Google. This included outcomes such as turnover, employee satisfaction and overall performance.

Computer firm HP uses an AI chatbot to engage with visitors to their website’s careers page. This encourages them to apply for suitable roles by asking a number of questions.

The result has been phenomenal, says vice president in global talent acquisition, Lavonne Monroe in an interview. She says that during the first three months of 2023, the technology helped HP convert 26% of casual jobseekers into new employees.

Meanwhile, General Motors uses AI to drive its candidate relationship management process. In the first year of using the chatbot, the time to schedule interviews was reduced from 5 days to 29 minutes!

AI in HR for SMEs

The ability of billion-dollar companies to access such technology might seem light years from the daily business of SMEs. But the reality is that AI is accessible for businesses of all sizes and budgets.

So how can AI help SMEs with their HR functions?

Integrated AI assistants within HR platforms

A small percentage of HR platforms have the capability of integrating with an AI assistant. shrewd has partnered with a HR software provider which comes with an AI assistant built into the system, but what does this actually mean and how will it benefit your business?

Think about the time you and your team spend searching for “stuff” – forms, benefits info, data, documents, and policies. The time you spend manually working out your HR KPI’s – absence stats, remaining holidays and labour turnover and asking the same questions on a regular basis – who’s working today, where is that report? Who’s visited the office the most this month? Who still hasn’t completed their appraisal form?

Just think of your AI assistant as something that can replace the time consuming, mundane admin tasks such as writing letters, memos, and policies but doing so by reducing time, effort, and mistakes, available to you with a click of a button at any time of the day.

The key benefits of an AI assistant

  1. Improving efficiency – AI will help improve work experiences by automating routine, repetitive tasks while reducing the chance of errors. Allowing your team to focus on strategic initiatives.
  2. Data at your fingertips – search records and produce reports on data held in your HR system within seconds.
  3. Create agendas – imagine a super organised assistant who loves to help manage your HR plans, agendas and schedules like meetings and appraisals, that’s your AI assistant.
  4. Better employee experience – starting the employment relationship off with engaging and effective recruitment and onboarding processes.
  5. Discover insights – explore your HR database to find fast answers about your workforce.
  6. Write custom letters and policies.
  7. Provide your employees with the information they’re looking for instantly.
  8. Hybrid working is becoming the norm but it can present challenges for managers. The use of AI helps monitor employees when they work remotely and measures productivity. Helping to identify potential burnout or disengagement so that managers can intervene when necessary.

shrewd top 5 tips

As with any piece of software or technology, AI should be used in the right way to get the most from it. We’ve come up with 5 shrewd top tips to help you navigate the complexities around AI:

  1. Only a small minority of HR systems include AI. Your bog-standard HR systems will only ever be able to deal with the basics such as recording annual leave and housing your HR documents. Choose your next HR system with the future in mind.
  2. Use your HR system to drive your HR function – start using your HR system efficiently and effectivity, using your system throughout every HR process in each stage of the employee life cycle, from onboarding to offboarding and everything in between.
  3. Keep your system up to date – this is vitality important if you’re going to use your HR system and AI to produce reports and ask it questions. AI assistants are contained within your HR database, so the answers to your questions or the data and information you are looking for needs to be held within your system and it is essential your data is kept up to date to enable accurate reporting.
  4. AI will not replace your HR function, but it will certainly support it – reducing the amount of admin tasks your people managers are required to do is surely music to everyone’s ears! It will give them time back to work on the things that really makes a difference and that matter!
  5. AI will not replace emotional intelligence and human interaction – AI has its limitations which is why we are confident that AI isn’t here to replace HR. After all we are human and we thrive on human interaction, especially during difficult conversations.

The role of AI in recruitment

Talent acquisition is a critical function in HR and involves complex processes and large amounts of data. Traditionally, you study physical CVs and cover letters to screen applicants before scheduling interviews for candidate evaluation.

All this takes time and resources and let’s face it, AI has probably written the cover letters you’re now having to waste time reading. Using sophisticated AI software, you’re able to create role profiles matching the skills and characteristics you’re looking for with the most suitable candidates.

AI can track applicants quickly by processing data as well as analysing CVs and applications depending on criteria you specify. This not only helps speed the process, but the decisions are better informed because AI does not have human bias. As a result, AI helps select the best candidates, increases the possibility of a diverse and inclusive workforce and even produces the questions you should ask at interview based on the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses highlighted through the assessments they completed upon applying.

Better candidate experience

When you’re looking for new candidates, the recruitment process plays a vital role about what they think of your business. Using AI means candidates can access virtual assistants that give answers to queries in real-time. This constant communication and transparency throughout the process helps give candidates a better experience.

Better onboarding and training

Efficient onboarding is crucial for new employees as it helps integrate them smoothly. AI streamlines the process and also provides customised training plans based on their skillset and role. It also tracks employee progress and identifies areas of improvement. Using the data, businesses can create personalised learning routes based on the employee and their job role, ensuring your company has an efficient workforce.

AI the biggest workplace introduction in recent times?

AI along with the continuous improvements in technology and software, is one of the biggest introductions to workplaces and shifts in the way we work that we have seen in recent modern-day history, and this is just the beginning.

This might be a bold statement and we don’t say it lightly, but AI feels like it has been creeping up behind us for some time and it feels like it’s arrived with a bang over the last year, certainly with the introduction of chatbot’s such as ChatGPT.

It has left us with two options; we either embrace AI with all of its benefits and to educate ourselves about what it can and can’t do. Or we ignore it, be naïve to think that it isn’t here to stay, and we fall behind. SMEs should see the positives for what they are and assess how AI can enable them to become more productive, effective, and efficient.

Just like any change it’s going to raise questions and concerns, but we encourage SMEs to see AI like we do as an HR outsourcing service, AI is an opportunity and not a threat. Yes it will take away part of the HR service we typically provide to clients, mainly around compliance but that means we can spend more time on the good stuff!

How we can support you

shrewd is here to support SMEs through change, to help your team work with, and make the most of, the latest technologies to enable your business to be a great place to work.

Whether you’re considering your next HR software platform or interested in using AI to recruit your next hire, contact our team today.

Many people think of AI as being a robot replacing humans. But fear not, you won’t find a white animatronic machine in your office…anytime soon!