It has been said building the employee experience is the next competitive frontier for companies. In the U.S. alone, employees are quitting their jobs in record numbers with studies showing the voluntary turnover hovering above 15%. That makes streamlining work and improving the employee experience a fundamental imperative for businesses as they struggle to maintain a competitive workforce.
According to Altimeter’s 2018-2019 report: “The State of Digital Transformation”, 54% of organizations are exploring ways to modernize the employee experience and engagement long term.
Technology offers HR professionals the ability to create a new level of convenience for the employees and makes the company more adaptive and agile. Everyday processes become streamlined. Processes such as filing an expense report, time off approvals, employee handbook sign-offs and so on. Technology eliminates the need for large amounts of time to be spent on administrative work that can, in its essence, be repetitive. As such, employees are able to spend more time working thus increasing productivity and engagement. For the HR professional, work becomes strategy-focused where before it was more transactional.
Onboarding and Robotic Process Automation
Onboarding is a normal occurrence at every company, but not every company does it well. The employee orientation process is essential because it can make or break the employee experience. So, how does it go from “run-of-the-mill” to exceptional?
The answer is RPA (robotic process automation), also commonly referred to a robotics or simply robots. Don’t think of actual robots here, however, with their right angled bodies and tubular arms. No, these are software robots that automate processes, specifically those that are redundant and governed by a particular set of rules.
When robotics was first introduced to the scene, there was some real concern there would be less need for humans. That concern never came to pass. It cannot be denied that some jobs were lost, but new ones were formed. It was also thought robotics would take the ‘human’ out of human resources. If anything, the need for humans increased exponentially.
All of that said, robotic process automation can change the onboarding process in two ways, one with respect to the new employee and the other with respect to HR.
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For the employee, an RPA or a data-driven onboarding experience can actually make them feel valued rather than ignored. In the pre-RPA days, a new employee would be forced to fill out sheet after sheet of personal data. In some instances, the new employee would write and re-write their mailing address upwards of five to eight times. The same could be said about their phone number and other valuable pieces of information. Robotic process automation makes that a thing of the past. With RPA, these forms can already be pre-populated with information saving the new employee much needed time and effort. Instead, that time can then be better utilized by spending more one-on-one time with HR, meeting new team members and getting to know the critical pieces of their new job responsibilities.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
RPA can also deliver an integrated experience for the new employee. It can be used to create a personalized set of tasks for the employee like setting up their first rounds of meetings. They can receive safety and other forms of training on everything from submitting vacation requests and logging work time to sexual harassment training.
For human resources, robotic process automation takes control of the more manual, repetitive tasks. HR can spend more time building relationships with employees at all levels of the organization. It provided ongoing contact with workers collecting valuable insights and helping to create conditions that ensure success.
Furthermore, RPA can help HR ensure complete compliance. The professional world is constantly changing when it comes to regulation. For the HR professional, it’s a never-ending race just to stay ahead. Through robotic process automation, forms, protocols, trainings and so on can be automatically implemented. This protects HR from missing a critical compliance deadline and the company from dealing with fines and or potential forms of damage.
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is now a daily part of work for HR professionals. Just a few years ago, that was not the case. Now, companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and Amazon are pouring tens of millions of dollars into research and development. And it’s having an impact on HR. The same companies are building AI-solutions that change the way HR recruits, hires, develops and engages employees.
Artificial Intelligence is defined as a computer science that uses machine-learning algorithms designed to mimic human cognitive functions. Essentially, developers of the technology endeavor to make interactions with a machine similar to interactions with a human by allowing them to sense, comprehend, act and learn.
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AI and RPA have a lot in common. For the HR professional, it can limit, and in some instances negate, repetitive, time-intensive manual tasks. With the use of AI and the data it gathers from employees, HR can shift from guesswork; trusting their “gut” to making data-driven decisions derived from predictive analytics.
So, how are HR departments implementing AI?
Job Candidate Interviews
The number of companies using artificial intelligence to screen and hire new talent is growing. Some of the more notable ones include General Electric (GE) and Hilton Worldwide. AI can much more efficiently scrutinize a job candidate for potential employment. It can scan work samples, review social media posts, and even analyze faces. In fact, Unilever has been hiring all of its entry-level employees using AI. Candidates are asked to play neuroscience-based games. These games are meant to check the inherent traits of the candidate. They are also asked to record interviews. Those are then analyzed by Artificial Intelligence looking at different data points such as intonation, word choice and facial movements.
As a whole, HR is seeing a huge push to remove bias from hiring practices. Artificial Intelligence can help level the playing field. How? Specifically, it can look for ways to better job posts and descriptions. It can also help create questionnaires that are not bias and can help alleviate the same issue with regards to screening.
The freelance market or gig economy is growing. HR as a whole does not have the expertise needed to hire these types of workers as it is somewhat new to the space. In time, that will change but until them AI can help in that it can identify traits and parameters needed for a particular type of remote worker. It can look through an applicant’s previous job history and work samples to see if the person is a fit for the remote position offered by your company.
Onboarding with Chat bots
AI enhances the onboarding experience through chat bots. These bots are programmed to answer questions or direct new employees to the right information. One might as: how does this better the employee experience? It’s a two pronged answer. First, chat bots offer a level of quick responsiveness. That responsiveness builds trust. That translates to the potential for higher retention rates. As mentioned previously, AI can automate certain parts of the onboarding experience such as collecting I-9s, W-4s, employment agreements and work eligibility information from new hires.
Artificial Intelligence can also be an employee instructor of sorts. The technology can host, verify and track training and development. AI learning offers a self-driven approach at the employee’s level and on their timetable. With 24/7 mobile access, not only can employees learn at their own speed, but employers can monitor that progress. AI can also determine the best course of study for individual employees. As the worker progresses through the training, AI can customize and adjust in real time based on the employee’s performance.
In short, these technologies are here to stay. And they are going to grow in both complexity and necessity. Employees are and will continue to demand HR and their respective companies provide them with the tools to successfully execute their daily responsibilities. And employees aren’t the only ones making the demands. Senior leaders and executives are also calling for the use of these technologies to pursue and meet the goals of the business. While it’s been said before it is worth saying again: those companies who don’t implement these technologies face the possibility of being left behind and thus hindering the company’s ability to grow and compete.