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Artificial Intelligence: the key to Employee engagement?

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

Hailed by advocates as “the new electricity” and by sceptics as the start of the end, artificial intelligence is already causing seismic waves of change throughout the modern business landscape.

So far, the discussion surrounding AI in the workplace has largely been dominated by its potential to replace human workers. But what if the integration of artificial intelligence could hold the key to improving the Employee experience?

In a recent report from IBM, 66% of CEOs stated their belief that cognitive computing could have a profound impact on the world of HR. At a glance, this may seem like a contradiction: after all, how could robots possibly assist with human issues? Simplifying complex processes and replacing the need for manual input is one thing but increasing Employee engagement is another.

Yet leaps in deep learning technology are beginning to prove beneficial to HR executives in helping them to understand how staff truly feel. Armed with this knowledge, organisations have a unique opportunity to improve the Employee experience

Delivering valuable insight on staff satisfaction

At its core, HR exists to manage a business’ most valuable asset: its Employees. However, getting to the heart of how your workforce feel is a time-consuming process in itself. When faced with a vast and diverse staff-base, HR executives must sift through thousands of feedback forms, email responses and meeting notes to build a clear picture of the Employee experience. In the time taken to reach this stage, the conversation surrounding Employee engagement has, unsurprisingly, stalled.

Irrespective of the insight now gained through staff-wide surveys, weeks or potentially even months have passed in which no change has taken place. Employees naturally feel as though they took part in a tick-box exercise; a task that will never truly have an impact on their satisfaction in the workplace.

Now, consider this process with the addition of AI software. Suddenly, HR executives are able to make data-driven decisions from the findings of a survey without delay. Since tools powered by machine learning boast the ability to identify patterns within masses of data, team-level scores and trends need not take months to inspire change. Rather than simply assessing quantitative data, artificial intelligence can help HR leaders to surface themes and trends in concrete detail across a multitude of Employee comments.

What’s more, by analysing historic trends and connections, AI has the potential to predict upcoming problems on the horizon. Soon, HR leaders will harness AI to inspire managers to build better working environments and Employees will start to feel as though their opinion truly matters beyond a meeting.

Creating personalised experiences with AI

From Recruitment and orientation to recognition and performance management, it’s no secret that personalisation enhances the Employee experience. After all, we all work in different ways; our skill-sets are so varied, and our learning journeys will not follow the same path.

Fortunately, programmes using predictive analytics are starting to prove practical in providing personalised support to Employees, building up a picture of their needs, skills and working styles to improve their performance and satisfaction. While AI may have much room to grow in its capabilities, businesses reaping the benefits of these tools can create a competitive edge in both talent attraction and retention.

IBM, for instance, is currently exploring the potential an AI programme has in delivering personalised onboarding experiences for new Employees. Their goal is to ensure new hires feel at home in those nerve-wracking first weeks when everything is unfamiliar. By creating an intelligent system that can provide tailored answers to an Employees’ most pressing questions, new recruits can quickly get up to speed on their daily routine, naturally boosting staff engagement from the earliest possible stage.

Making time for human connections

At first, the idea of implementing artificial intelligence solutions into HR practices may be cause for concern in the sense that it replaces the need for manual input in a number of areas. However, considering the time-saving capabilities that it has already presented, AI will likely complement HR by providing a steady stream of accurate information about how Employees are feeling at the drop of a hat.

If artificial intelligence can reduce the amount of administrative work for HR professionals, it’s already succeeded in improving the Employee experience. Instead of spending time examining data, HR departments can concentrate on creating a positive culture and truly focus on the ‘human’ element of the job: the bit that humans will always do best.

What do you think the future of feedback holds? Tell us, we would love to hear from you.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.

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