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The pandemic has transformed how people work, forcing human resources leaders to bet on AI and other new technologies and processes that support a more adaptive, flexible, and fluid workforce.

There have been “seismic shifts” in the way organizations operate, according to Sage’s recent survey of 500 senior HR and people leaders. A third of the HR leaders said they are changing how they hire by building better candidate experiences for applicants, on-boarders, and new joiners and focusing on workforce experiences. While 24% of companies are currently using AI for recruitment, that number is expected to grow, with 56% reporting they plan to adopt AI in the next year. Sage’s findings suggest a steady growth over the years, while Gartner’s Artificial Intelligence Survey from March 2020 found that 17% of organizations used AI-based talent management systems in 2019. The pandemic has likely accelerated the pace of change for many of these organizations.

Where AI is adding value to talent management

Evaluating job candidates on potential. Organizations are streamlining recruiting by using AI to match employees’ capabilities and potential with the skills required for a new position. Talent intelligence platforms typically rely on augmented and autonomous AI levels to personalize the candidate experience and guide the job seeker to the role that best matches their capabilities. Most talent intelligence platforms anonymize applicants’ data in an attempt to remove biases from recruiting, evaluating candidates only on skills and capabilities. But improvements in training algorithms can give organizations some insight into the biases in their data and how to correct them.

According to a recent AI study from PwC, augmented AI systems support human decision-making and continuously learn from their interactions with humans and the environment. Autonomous AI systems adapt to different situations and can act without human assistance. Leading companies providing talent intelligence platforms include Claro, Eightfold, SeekOut, and Stratigens. Josh Bersin, a noted HR industry analyst, educator, and technologist, recently published an interesting report on this area titled The Rise of the Talent Intelligence Platform.

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Improving virtual recruiting event results. HR leaders create a series of virtual recruiting events and use AI to guide applicants to jobs with the most value. This is especially useful for enterprises wanting to hire new talent, including graduating seniors. Recruiters use virtual event apps to upload the resume books they receive from college and university recruitment programs into a talent intelligence platform. The platform analyzes each resume and classifies it based on candidates’ skills and capabilities. Instead of just doing keyword matching the way an ATS (Application Tracking System) would, virtual event apps designed into the talent intelligence platform use machine learning to match candidates with available positions based on their skills and potential. One example is Eightfold’s Virtual Event Recruiting Module.

Reducing biased language. Organizations are adopting AI-enabled chatbots and augmented writing in collaboration and workflow platforms. The fact that these platforms integrate with enterprise applications such as Microsoft Outlook, Office, and Teams, as well as Slack/Salesforce, can reduce the likelihood of using biased language and support inclusive messaging. AI-based chatbots and writing assistants are trained to look for problematic terms, concepts, and sentences and recommend alternative words, concepts, and sentences that reflect less bias. HR teams say AI-augmented writing is useful for job descriptions, letters of recommendation, and improved marketing content. Leading AI chatbot vendors include Allie, Catalyst, and #Biascorrect, while AI-augmented writing leaders include Textio and Datapeople.

Career planning and mobility. AI can also be used in career path planning and to create mentorship opportunities. HR teams use AI features in talent intelligence platforms to provide personalized career guidance to employees based on their innate capabilities, potential, and future positions of interest. Companies are also able to match employees just starting their career with mentors, sponsors, and executive coaches. The idea of combining AI and human judgement to improve diversity and facilitate more inclusive leadership development is still in the early stages, however. Key vendors in this area include Landit and Guild, as well as Talent Intelligence Platforms, Claro, Eightfold, SeekOut, and Stratigens.

Improving new employee experiences. People leaders are relying on AI to improve the new hire onboarding process by delivering a more personalized experience. This could help the new employees get up to speed more quickly and improve retention. For example, AI could match a new employee’s preferences with recommendations about which health insurance benefit to select. Onboarding new employees during the pandemic comes with its own challenges and has underscored the need for greater process consistency and cross-functional communication because every onboarding process needed to be personalized. Key players in this field include Axonify and Kea.

Retaining high performers. Organizations can also use AI to improve internal mobility and reduce the chance of high performers leaving. AI models can be trained to spot patterns that suggest when employees will decide to leave for another job. HR teams can use the talent intelligence platform to identify when a top performer may be ready to leave and provide them with information about new roles within the company and networking contacts who can talk about the department and the role. Vendors providing this capability include Ascendify, Aimee, and Gloat.

Achieving more equitable compensation. As HR focuses on equal pay for equal work, AI tools can use market factors, employee performance, and job achievement to help improve compensation programs. Organizations can define sales quotas, monitor progress toward those quotas, and suggest new strategies to improve results. For sales quotas to be effective, they need to be based on historical sales trends, the latest market data by territory, a salesperson’s experience level, the pace of new product introductions, and many other factors. Leading companies in this area include Workday HCM, Paycom, and SAP SuccessFactors.

Listening to employees. Employee surveys give HR leaders insight into what aspects of the organization’s culture are working and which need improvement. AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools can look at chatbot sessions and quarterly surveys to gauge employee sentiment. During the course of the pandemic, many organizations have focused more on employee health, wellness, stress, welfare, and how they are coping with uncertainty.

Chief human resource officers and their teams need to get up to speed on AI today if they’re going to stay competitive in the future. Automation combined with assisted, augmented, and autonomous intelligence has the potential to improve employee experiences, delivering personalization at scale. HR professionals would do well to start preparing for how their roles and long-term goals will change as automation and AI gain greater adoption.

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