Dean Sadler: AI is set to become a redefining force in HR

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Dean Sadler: AI is set to become a redefining force in HR

With all the discussion about which jobs robots will steal, we can be forgiven for overlooking the fact that these very same technologies play a vital role in finding, securing and retaining talent.

We are living in a digital era of continuous change, compounded by the widening skills gap among the workforce. HR is dealing with a diamond in the rough situation in finding the right applicants for a job. Conversations that I’ve had with HR managers who don’t have an applicant tracking software (ATS) tell me that a substantial amount of their day is spent sifting through piles of CVs.

For this reason, securing the perfect candidate is harder than ever. Implementing AI can help companies attract the best applicants, and at a step that keeps up with the feverish pace of modern business.

AI can transform recruitment

Advances in AI have helped streamline recruitment processes. Traditionally, HR managers spend the bulk of their time sifting through cover letters and CVs in order to shortlist potential applicants to interview. And finally securing the perfect candidate – digitally astute as well as presentable, punctual and flexible is akin to finding the Golden Ticket for today’s employers. Now assessing thousands of candidates in minutes is made possible through AI, meaning HR managers can now concentrate on other matters, such as employee learning and development and interviewing prospective staff. 

AI benefits HR in a variety of ways. Thanks to its natural language processing and machine learning algorithms, it has the power to leverage big data and track and analyse a dizzying amount of information. This could be used for decoding video interviews to weigh up cognitive aptitude, assessing everything from innate empathy and politeness to attention to detail and cultural fit. Beyond screening, the production of AI generated joining letters, and pay slips might be on the anvil too.

Raising the profile of HRs within organisations with AI

However, there is one substantial problem: Technology is moving so fast, making it challenging for HR people to keep up. This can harm their ability to make a case to get more budget for AI and automation doesn’t come naturally. The time has come for a new paradigm shift: to equip HR with new skills so their voice is heard by the board.

HR departments generally accrue lots of data but don’t do much with it. I’ve heard it argued that they don’t need to improve data literacy, as long as they have people around them that can. But I think it’s all about the department they want to create. If they want to own analytics, they need to take control of it and upskill themselves appropriately.

I’d say that HR professionals who don’t keep pace with change may damage the business by not attracting and holding on to the right staff.  Embracing AI is now a vital component to any successful business model and, in HR, it can bring fast results.

Getting human-machine collaboration right is the winning ticket

Whether it’s using the proficiencies of machine-learning to attract talent or using data analytics to roll out valuable workplace initiatives, AI unshackles HR professionals from repetitious low value tasks. This allows them to concentrate on more productive and strategic work that involves more interpersonal skills and truly contributes to the business.

The combination of soft skills, such as facilitating conflict management, fostering diversity and inclusion, building and sustaining positive workplace relationships along with powerful analytical and predictive technology of AI, is a ticket to HR success.

Despite this, only 17 per cent of those surveyed in Deloitte’s Tech Trends 2018 report said they felt comfortable managing a team where people, robots and AI work together.

This draws attention to the opportunity that HR has in helping businesses embrace the future world of work. A strong understanding of AI among HR professionals will make sure the technology plays out successfully.

Along with other department heads, HR’s business model needs to focus on the integration of people and AI, so staff are best served and organisations stay ahead of the curve.

During this time of upheaval, I’m excited to see how AI will impacts HR. Future success means action today.

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About Dean Sadler

After travelling the globe and working as a bus driver, Dean started a PhD in computing before joining a startup called Plusnet. He wrote the billing and CRM platform, became CIO and helped grow the business from a handful of employees to over 700, through IPO then exiting via a sale to BT. Pondering life after Plusnet, Dean was looking for a real world problem which could be addressed by artificial intelligence and hit on the recruitment industry as being ripe for disruption. And so TribePad was born, where he is CEO.

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2 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. AI doesn’t exist yet of course. Machine learning then yes, well maybe a little. Big data also, and some augmented too, but AI in recruitment no! Not even Artificial General Intelligence. There is too much of AI bandwaggon being marketed and this is misleading. I have looked at every solution there is in recruitment and followed this for well over 30 years. This is like talking about HD ready TVs in the 20s.

    And what I have seen in machine learning or algorithms in recruitment is not that accurate in the outcome and needs some manual validation. Did you decide ever to not go the way your GPS was taking you? and you’re now on a one-way track up a mountainside. OK, Google.

    Nothing can beat the power of a well-informed recruiter who knows their domain and their audience. Someone is going to have to talk and pick up a phone still before anything happens and before that, there is always drudgery and tasks – part of the job and learning. This is engagement and today, this means engagement ahead of a vacancy even existing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the science and progress and look forward to it. AI is the Goal, it is a journey and is not a technology. We’ve been on this journey a while. It stops and starts over the decades. Today it’s in fashion again, a conception of whatever we’re conditioned to think of it until we believe it exists. But we’re not there yet.

  2. Recruitment is about building mutually beneficial relationships between the new employee and the organisation. These are human relationships – they are not transactional and are based on alignment around values, objectives and impact.

    The rush to AI as a way of optimising a process is understandable. However, it is a mistake. We have seen the effects of supplanting human relationships for technology-led solutions in many areas and the consequences are often negative. Employers need to increase the amount of human contact between job applicants and the organisation, not reduce it. While data is extremely useful in gaining insight into candidates, we must contextualise that data in a human context.

    Embracing AI risks the human element being lost in favour of perceived process efficiency. We must not lose sight of what really matters – human relationships that are mutually beneficial and which create lasting value for those involved and others.

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