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By Todd Horton • January 29, 2020

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Human Resources: The Future is Today!

There are two constants in HR - the problems are the same year over year and the solutions are never the same.

When I am meeting with human resources leaders, they tell me there are a few things that give them antacid types of concern. They are:

  • Employee retention
  • Improving the overall employee experience
  • Providing metrics that can measure the effectiveness of an employee engagement program

Let’s look at those more closely.

Employee retention--Every HR person sees this as the gorilla in the room. It seems to be that constant whack-a-mole type of problem where one solution seems to result in another situation popping up. (new or an existing problem becoming more visible) Each year, each organization, each environment will require independent solutions to problems that are both consistent and different.

This is not to say that regular goals are not met or even exceeded. It means that we are dealing with people who each have unique goals and expectations and we need a solution that deals with them. With a solution based on AI and machine learning you have that tool which can measure and provide the real time analysis that will allow you to pivot to meet the issue before it becomes a crisis. AI and machine learning are the tools that can tell you on Tuesday what Saturday’s weather is so you can plan that cookout.

Improving the overall employee experience--What goes hand-in-hand with employee retention is improving the employee experience, Since KangoGift began in 2009 one thing I’ve constantly heard is about how the employee experience is next to impossible to measure with any clarity. Human resources leaders are put into a reactive situation when asked about program impact.

With machine learning those situations are identified immediately and flagged for intervention or preventative action when and where required. When I recommend machine learning to a client in a case like this I use the Titanic example by saying imagine if the ship knew there were icebergs in the area and let you take the appropriate actions long before it became a problem.

In a similar vein, when it comes to AI, I am clear that that improves the employee experience by making it easier for the HR person to do their job by making those small decisions and actions that help enhance the employee experience. Imagine a very busy manager with an ongoing project. Rather than have the employee lose faith, an AI system could take those few steps that automatically improve the employee experience. It pitches in when and where it is needed to.

Provide real metrics that can measure the effectiveness of an employee engagement program--When I’m talking with HR leaders we always end up discussing how to measure program effectiveness in real time would be ideal. With machine learning, this can be done and with the added element of artificial intelligence simple actions can be taken to fix a potential problem before it becomes an issue.

Machine learning will help you because it will flag that a certain group or person is not recognizing employees and that may ultimately result in higher turnover. The time to catch this is before valuable teammates start exiting. A quick alert that this is going on will result in the person or group being notified allowing them to take the appropriate actions.

The great value of AI in this scenario is that it removes the inefficiencies from the mix. Person A has had their work anniversary and needs to be recognized. This action will show up in your system dashboard but will be hard to catch if there are serious time constraints. With an AI component, once the organization has set the parameters AI can fulfill the task based on the parameters you set. AI becomes part of the team because it catches those things that may fall between the cracks.

Here is the take away for you based on what I have seen through first hand engagement. Machine learning has become a key component of innovative organizations who value employee engagement and retention. Artificial intelligence is starting to be introduced into HR operations as well. It is my position that AI contributes because it allows you to focus on more essential issues because the minor details are not falling through the cracks, they are being fully taken care of.

Both machine learning and AI do more than represent the future of human resources, they are the now and I will tell you that you should start to integrate them into your program to increase both employee engagement and employee retention.

It is that constant, whack-a-mole type question where the solution for one year will be different than the next. This isn’t meant to imply that key goals are not achieved,it means we are dealing with people and need approaches that resonate with specific individuals. This is the great challenge of the HR world ,the solutions are rarely black and white.