Arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence is push­ing humans and machines clos­er togeth­er.  It’s excit­ing!  AI’s influ­ences are being felt across the HR space… being used to auto­mate busi­ness process­es, enhance effi­cien­cy, and reduce bias among oth­er things.  In fact, McKinsey’s lat­est fore­cast of AI’s impact on the glob­al econ­o­my is that it will gen­er­ate $13 tril­lion in eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty across the globe by 2030.

But, there is room for improve­ment, and top exec­u­tives want it yes­ter­day.  A recent sur­vey from Price­wa­ter­house­C­oop­er found 72% of exec­u­tives believe AI will offer siz­able busi­ness advan­tages in the near future.  In anoth­er sur­vey from IBM, 66% of CEOs believe AI can dri­ve sig­nif­i­cant val­ue in HR.  Some are already explor­ing those oppor­tu­ni­ties.  Uber, for instance, com­plet­ed the world’s first car­go ship­ment using a truck con­trolled by AI!

State of AI in HR

AI as a Tool

The inclu­sion of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence in the HR professional’s tool­box is not sur­pris­ing.  When look­ing for answers, look no fur­ther than the iPhone, for instance, or the black, cylin­dri­cal Echo tow­er sit­ting on the counter.  Whether its Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Echo, peo­ple are using arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence at home in their day-to-day lives.  It makes sense, then, that AI has made it into the workplace.

In most pro­fes­sion­al set­tings, AI is not required to do mun­dane tasks like answer ques­tions about the weath­er or turn on the lights.  Instead, AI is asked to do much more.

Reducing Human Bias

Humans are inher­ent­ly bias.  Even when striv­ing for inclu­sive­ness, HR pro­fes­sion­als may sub­con­scious­ly lean toward a par­tic­u­lar can­di­date… for instance, some­one who is more like the recruiter.  Anoth­er poten­tial bias, lan­guage bias; people’s sub­con­scious word asso­ci­a­tions could indi­cate a par­tic­u­lar preference.

Now, thanks to AI, algo­rithms can be designed to help employ­ers iden­ti­fy and remove these bias­es.  That poten­tial­ly trans­lates to bet­ter hir­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions and attract­ing a more diverse group of can­di­dates.  Those same algo­rithms can also find can­di­dates who may have been screened out due to human bias.  To put it in con­text, AI allows man­agers to go beyond gut feel­ings and rely on data-dri­ving assessments.

AI Automation

AI is being used in HR to auto­mate repet­i­tive, low-val­ue tasks thus increas­ing the focus on more strate­gic work.  AI tools auto­mate com­mon HR tasks like ben­e­fits man­age­ment or han­dling com­mon ques­tions or requests.

Recruiting through AI

Cus­tom expe­ri­ences are expect­ed by appli­cants.  These are tai­lored to unique needs as they apply for a new job, choose the right ben­e­fits or explore devel­op­ment opportunities.

Com­pa­nies have imple­ment­ed “AI recruiters” to auto­mate sched­ul­ing inter­views, pro­vide ongo­ing feed­back to can­di­dates and answer their ques­tions in real time.  This allows human recruiters to spend more time con­vert­ing can­di­dates to hires.


Some com­pa­nies are using AI plat­forms to sin­gle out employ­ees that may be head­ing for the exit door.  Those plat­forms track employ­ee com­put­er activ­i­ty, emails, key­strokes, inter­net brows­ing and so on and store it.  Then AI ana­lyzes the data to deter­mine a base­line of nor­mal activ­i­ty pat­terns in the orga­ni­za­tion. Based on that knowl­edge, out­liers are flagged and report­ed to the employ­er.  AI is also being used to detect changes in the over­all tone of employ­ees’ com­mu­ni­ca­tions to pre­dict when employ­ees might be think­ing of leaving.

AI Makes HR More Human

At some point in the career of an HR pro­fes­sion­al the ques­tion is asked:  how can human resources become more human?  At least one com­pa­ny believes it has the answer.  Best Buy Cana­da says it’s to add more machines.  Chris Tay­lor is the chief human resources offi­cer for Best Buy Cana­da.  He has gone on record say­ing the embrac­ing of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence and machine learn­ing appli­ca­tions in human cap­i­tal man­age­ment is a “manda­to­ry invest­ment in the future.”

So, why add more machines to make HR more human?

The automa­tion of tasks through AI tech­nol­o­gy allows for the free­ing of HR pro­fes­sion­als to focus on unique­ly human abil­i­ties such as crit­i­cal think­ing, cre­ativ­i­ty, and empa­thy.  While they are involved with the more human tasks, tech­nol­o­gy, at the moment, can han­dle the more mun­dane tasks.

All of that said, in a lot of ways arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence is still grow­ing and learn­ing itself.

What does that state­ment mean? AI is able to search a query based on the words you are using and give you a response, but that response isn’t contextual.

AI is head­ing in that direc­tion though.

Instead of writ­ing respons­es specif­i­cal­ly to spe­cif­ic inputs… you just have a huge data­base of lan­guage around a spe­cif­ic knowl­edge domain and the AI can go into that knowl­edge domain and answer the ques­tions from the user.

HR pro­fes­sion­als inter­est­ed in pur­su­ing AI want it to do much more than answer ques­tions and rum­mage through appli­ca­tions. They want to use it as a learn­ing platform.

But it’s not there yet.

AI can teach itself to do some­thing, but it’s not at the stage it can replace humans beings as the “dri­vers of edu­ca­tion.” In the future, it may be used that way, but it would require a lot of adaptability.

Tay­lor says Best Buy Cana­da is embrac­ing as much tech­nol­o­gy as they can get their hands on.  For instance, the com­pa­ny has start­ed invest­ing in cloud-based solu­tion that uses arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, voice tech­nol­o­gy and machine learn­ing.  All of these tech­nolo­gies, Best Buy Cana­da hopes, will bet­ter the employ­ee experience.


As much as the HR tech­nol­o­gy land­scape con­tin­ues to be dis­rupt­ed by AI, HR teams must find ways to bal­ance these advance­ments with trans­paren­cy.  It is essen­tial in mak­ing sure the imple­men­ta­tion of AI tech­nol­o­gy is suc­cess­ful.  At the end of the day, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence is not the end-all-be-all answer to every quandary HR finds itself in.  It is a tool and noth­ing more.  A tool that can improp­er­ly func­tion based on the data it is giv­en in order to work effec­tive­ly.  Even so, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence can be a valu­able resource.  Work to embrace it now because it’s like­ly you’ll be expect­ed to use it in the future.

By Mason Stevenson

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on