There is a lot of new technology being used to automate functions and save money in large corporations, but many small organizations are shut out of those advancements. This is largely because of the cost, training, knowledge and resources it requires to take advantage of such new technology.
But while small business owners might not be able to afford such advances, it’s good to keep up with what’s going on in the tech world – particularly innovations that can help a business owner automate processes and save money on personnel expenses.
One such advancement is how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used for human resources functions. For example, automated processes that adapt to situations can be useful with recruitment, onboarding and training new employees.
In a loose labor market, even a small business could receive hundreds or even thousands of resumes for one open position. In a tight labor market, a job listing might not procure that many responses, but an employer can be very particular about which applicants to meet. In either scenario, AI can be deployed to screen resumes for keywords, experience and education requirements in order to narrow down the list to only highly qualified candidates.
AI processes can help reduce unconscious biases during the initial recruitment process. Furthermore, AI can help businesses automate scheduling and conduct customized text interviewing. In fact, there are now AI pre-screening tools that host video interviews of potential candidates to narrow the list even further before inviting a short list for a phone or face-to-face meeting. One such tool hosts a series of "games" to assess candidates based on their cognitive and emotional features, while avoiding traits related to their gender, socioeconomic status or race. The assessment is then matched up against profiles of past or current employees who have succeeded in that position. If the AI evaluation determines a candidate is not a good fit for the position for which he applied, it can scan other position profiles to see if there is another role for which the candidate might be better suited.
Onboarding often consists of paperwork, digital tools and videos, with very little personal contact apart from a mass orientation. However, AI-enabled chatbots can provide new employees with a more customized and pseudo-personal experience by answering specific questions and providing tailored information based on their role, department or required job skills and processes they need to learn. AI allows a new hire to self-acclimate to the job without having to bother HR, the hiring manager or colleagues with a lot of questions – helping the new employee get up-to-speed and gain confidence on his or her own.
Consumer goods manufacturer Unilever uses a chatbot that is able to speak and answer employee questions in plain, human language. The chatbot can answer hundreds of general questions and even tailor specific advice, ranging from where to catch a shuttle bus to the office in the morning to how to handle HR and payroll issues.
No matter how perfectly qualified a new hire is for the job, there is always a learning curve. Most of the time, it’s a matter of learning the company’s specific computer programs, processes and even in-house jargon – such as what acronyms mean and the names and locations of conference rooms. AI can help new workers learn basic operating procedures such as these as well as specific job tasks.
For example, a new employee could wear an AI headset throughout the day to help carry out daily job functions, all the while asking specific questions and receiving guidance on best practices. An AI headset may even use image recognition technology to identify what the employee is referencing, and even playback images through virtual reality (VR) to help direct the worker to the appropriate screen on his or her computer.
Enhance Productivity (of Human Employees)
Instead of replacing humans, AI can be used to handle menial tasks so that employees can engage in more meaningful work that requires experience, knowledge and the ability to make calculated decisions. While technology is widely used these days for communication, data mining and researching information, AI as the technology of the future might replace lower-level administrative positions so that resources can be allocated to hiring more higher-level workers who will have a greater impact on firm revenues.