How will AI impact HR? A new study provides some answers.
By Larry Basinait
Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to systems that canÂ adapt their functionality without being programmedÂ to do so, but rather based on the usage data theyÂ collect. As a tool used to guide and execute HRÂ processes, AI has enormous implications. IntelligentÂ technology can be leveraged to help HR leaders sourceÂ candidates, forecast employee flight risk, identifyÂ high-potential employees, prevent bias in hiring,Â improve the candidate and employee experience, andÂ implement corporate learning programsâand thatâsÂ just the beginning.
In order to determine the adoption of AI in the HRÂ industry and its impact on business results, HROÂ Today partnered with Alexander Mann SolutionsÂ earlier this year to conduct a survey of todayâs top HRÂ professionals. In total, 150 respondents participated inÂ the survey from the HRO Today magazine subscriberÂ list, e-newsletter mailing list, and HRO Today ServicesÂ and Technology Association.
Results show that AI used for HR processes remainsÂ in the early stages of adoption, with just over one-halfÂ (57.4 percent) of respondents leveraging theÂ technology for a year or less. Its earliest penetrationÂ has been among larger companies: Organizations withÂ 10,000 or more employees are three times more likelyÂ than those with fewer than 500 employees to be usingÂ AI, and twice as likely to have plans to implement it inÂ the next two years. But overall, the use of AI-enabledÂ technology is rising among companies of all sizes, withÂ 53.7 percent of surveyed respondents planning toÂ implement AI in the near future.
While itâs too early to tell if the investment in AI byÂ HR is paying off, most feel positively about theirÂ experience so far. More than one-half (59.7 percent)Â of HR professionals indicated that AI has met theirÂ expectations, while 5.3 percent feel it has not. ThatâsÂ a difference of more than 11 times. But thereâs still aÂ large group that remains undecided, as more than one-third (35.1 percent) indicated that AI has neither metÂ nor not met their expectations. However, of the peopleÂ who were not impressed by their results, the majorityÂ have used AI for only 12 months or less.
While AI may be a fantastic tool for human capitalÂ management, it will not replace human capital. OneÂ of the major concerns about AI is that itâs going toÂ eliminate jobs, but HR professionals need not worry.Â When study participants were asked what theyÂ predict will happen to the size of their organizationâsÂ recruitment teams in 24 months as a result of AI,Â more than one-half (55.8 percent) forecasted noÂ change to the size of their recruitment teams. ButÂ that doesnât mean the role of the recruiter wonâtÂ change; 69 percent of HR professionals indicated theyÂ felt that recruiters will spend more time developingÂ relationships with hiring managersâcertainly aÂ positive outcome. Recruiters will also spend more timeÂ building relationships directly with candidates.
Perhaps because itâs so early in the adoption cycleÂ of AI, most of its use in the HR industry centers onÂ creating greater efficiencies with administrativeÂ tasks. Currently, the most common application of AIÂ is candidate screening, used by 55.8 percent of studyÂ participants. Responding to candidate inquiries, a keyÂ component of the candidate experience, was citedÂ second most often, by 40.4 percent of respondents.Â The third most common way AI is being used is inÂ scheduling interviews, as indicated by 34.6 percent ofÂ respondents.
Moving forward, the more analytical capabilities ofÂ AI will be tested. Candidate assessment was the mostÂ commonly planned area for AI expansion, followedÂ closely by internal mobility planning and thenÂ employee performance management. This suggestsÂ that companies plan to move their AI capabilitiesÂ beyond administrative tasks into more strategic andÂ analytical HR functions.
Today, the expected benefits from AI are most oftenÂ reducing time to fill and cost. But AI can go beyondÂ those standard metrics of HR productivity, deliveringÂ value-add benefits like improved candidate experience.Â In fact, improved candidate experience was the thirdÂ most anticipated benefit among HR professionals,Â and one that is already being realized. Nearly sevenÂ out of 10 respondents (69.5 percent) indicated that AIÂ has already had a positive impact on candidateÂ experience, while 93.4 percent feel itÂ will do so in the next two years.
Contrary to commonÂ perception, the surveyÂ did not reveal theÂ overwhelmingÂ resistance inÂ implementing AI thatÂ many perceive to beÂ true. Over one halfÂ (53.5 percent) ofÂ participants statedÂ that they were notÂ facing resistance,Â suggesting thatÂ for many, there areÂ few impediments toÂ further embracing AIÂ technology in humanÂ resources.
In over one-half (59.6 percent)Â of cases, HR professionalsÂ drove the impetus to deploy AI forÂ HR needsâmore than twice that of anyÂ other part of the organization. However, a positiveÂ correlation indicates that companies that use AI in otherÂ departments, such as customer service, are more likely toÂ also utilize it in HR.Â The use of AI in HR is still in infancy but will onlyÂ continue to grow in adoption and scope goingÂ forward. Currently, the technology has theÂ greatest impact on areas related toÂ business productivity, whereÂ expectations are well definedÂ and the recommendationsÂ are straightforward andÂ not heavily nuanced. InÂ the future, expectationsÂ will be broader but allÂ applications of theÂ technologyâas wellÂ as relationships withÂ candidates and hiringÂ managers alikeâwillÂ still require a humanÂ touch. HR professionalsÂ will be needed toÂ maintain the technologyÂ and ultimately make theÂ connections and decisions, beÂ they hiring, promoting, or exiting.Â HR needs to embrace AI sooner ratherÂ than later because itâs not going away. AI willÂ become a mainstream HR tool for companies of all sizesÂ and industries, just like the technological advances thatÂ came before it.