When was the last time you ran into your HR department to assess leave balance or check for the appraisal cycle, or resolve queries you have? Must have been umpteen times in the course of your professional career. For HR departments, which in most organizations are overworked and understaffed, such requests are dime a dozen on a daily basis. Any seasoned professional will vouch for the fact that humans are complex to manage, and HR folks have a tough task on their hands. With digital advancements, human resource management has become more sophisticated and is seen as a high value-adding function within organizations. Because in the end employees are the only assets a business can boast of.
“Half the time HR personnel spend solving mundane and repetitive queries such as payroll, HRMS systems, leave and attendance, and employee exits.” - Forbes
Over the last two years, however, advances in Conversational AI technologies have transformed workflows across many enterprise functions, including the HR department. Employees can now reach out to virtual assistants “HR Bots” for most of their recurring queries. This is leaving HR professionals with more productive time so they can focus it on more strategic things than these mundane issues. But even before getting into what these HR Bots can do, let’s try to understand the existing issues:
“In the past, an employee with a question about how to get something done would ask a knowledgeable colleague for an answer. In the future, they will ask a conversational agent, and artificial intelligence will answer their questions.”- KPMG
What makes HR such a tough job
The job of an HR professional is both demanding and complex as they spend considerable time juggling multiple activities. From simple to complex queries, we need HR in the loop. How many times have you had to run to HR to plan your long vacations? Or loop-in senior managers/managers in mails for leave approvals? Isn’t it tiring and sometimes irritating for both the employees and the HR teams.
“2 out of 3 employees are frustrated while finding relevant policy information in their organization because they don’t know where to look for or how to access it.” – Gallup
When it comes to recruiting, HR has to meander through piles of profiles before they can pick a CV that fits the bill. The process is so manual that it often leads to human errors as well. Is there a way we can automate and reduce the effort for HR teams so that they can dedicate their time to more valuable work?
While running upskilling programs, it takes a lot of time for employees to find the relevant trainings that suit their requirements. Even if they do, how many times have employees just abandoned training midway because they are not customized to their needs?
The list can go on… but the moot point is, HR, as conventionally practised, has a lot of scope for intervention, especially in the light of emerging technologies such as intelligent automation and natural language-powered conversational interfaces. More importantly, the HR leaders should ask themselves: “Should my team be perpetually burdened with mundane low-value tasks like these when they have so much talent to do better?”.
Reconfigure HRSM into a strategic function with Conversational AI
Conversational AI is a holy grail that combines task automation along with enabling a single, simple, seamless interface that requires a low learning curve for anyone on your team. More importantly, it provides a completely customized experience for each employee. To resolve an employee query, generate a report or build a business case, typically HR goes through an average of 5-10 systems. A Conversational AI-powered HRSM, on the other hand, functions as a seamless cohesive unit that makes it easy for everyone to pull out information or execute tasks by just raising a simple request.
Secondly, it helps prioritize your strategic work. Imagine a team of 5 HR employees servicing hundreds of employees with an incessant stream of sundry queries: “what is my leave balance?”, “how do I reimburse my health cards?”, “how do I pay my taxes?”, and so on. How much time are you left with to address serious grievances around advisories, harassment or crisis situations?. This is missing the trees for the woods. By focusing on low value tasks, you give complex tasks a go-by, which ultimately bogs down the employee experience. Conversational AI helps HR teams attend to some serious work by taking our tasks can be easily handled by an intelligent, automated chatbot solution.
According to LinkedIn Talent Solutions, 59 percent of companies are actively investing in their employer brand.
How Conversational AI is changing the way HR team works
Organizations today are very particular about where they want HR teams to act as human touch points and where they want employees to self-serve. If you look at the below illustration there are certain activities that can be automated so that HR teams can spend more time on strategic activities.
Let's look at some of these activities which fall under Conversational AI’s purview.
1. Company FAQs
A number of times your colleague or HR must have answered the same question. And creating a dedicated application for answering FAQs on company policies and processed is expensive. But with HR bots coupled with AI and machine learning and natural language processing (NLP), your company can have an assistant answering your queries in real time.
2. Leave Requests
Consider this: an employee has to know his leave balance and he is on the road. He has to put up an email or login into any application to check the leave balance. All these functions are time-consuming and tedious. But with Conversational AI integrated into your HR system, he can simply ask the bot via text or voice command and access his leave balance in real-time. Just like a human HR a bot can understand the urgency through its sentiment skills and answer the queries without extending waiting hours of the user or handoff to real HR with the entire history and context in case of not understanding the intent of the user.
3. Performance Review
Conversational AI could also be used in improving other aspects of performance review like the self-assessment processes. Instead of just relying on the traditional self-assessment forms, an AI-powered interactive assistant can give an employee a conversational experience. Reminders to employees for Goal settings or filling up the appraisal forms can be easily delegated to these HR bots.
4. Easy Onboarding
An AI-powered interactive assistant can make end-to-end onboarding process effective and engaging. An interactive assistant can help the HR department collect necessary information. The new recruit could be given a quick start guide helping him/her understand more about the organization, products, clients and the overall culture.
5. Quick Compliance Tasks
HR team must address new codes and ensure your business runs safely and legally, from the start. How a business communicates this and enforces it, effectively is equally important.
Conversational AI can be trained to send alerts for anything from new state regulations to approaching deadlines to your busy HR team. It can also be trained to alert employees of any outstanding items or new information that can directly affect them. It can personalize this information based on information captured in onboarding.
With Conversational AI, it can only get better
1. Interviewees will appreciate your promptness
Candidates always value a company’s responsiveness. Chatbots can curb the tedious and time-consuming nature on both sides of the application process. They can easily review applicant information and schedule an interview.
2. Your employees will love it
In any organization, employee engagement is a key focus. Conversational AI can glean insights through employee interactions about their satisfaction levels, productivity and motivation, and act as a good feedback loop. In addition, it also comes in handy for some tasks such as managing expenses and payroll, which are highly valued by the employees. This way they do not need to fill out forms for recording conveyance charges, but instead just issue a command and the bot will get the approvals from the manager.
3. Keeps your team laser focused
Conversational AI-powered bots also allow you to automate routine administrative tasks by linking systems of record, so that both your back-end HR system and scheduling software are updated when vacation or sick time requests are submitted and approved. This frees up your HR team to focus on other important functions, like professional development and employee appreciation.
Conversational AI can only get better with time. A shout out to all HR professionals, we would love to hear day-to-day challenges you are facing and how do you overcome them? and if are looking for a AI-powered chatbot system that can take care of most of the regular activities, you should contemplate on deploying one and for more information, do look at our latest Webinar.