While voice assistants like Alexa have changed the way consumers interact with devices, their potential in settings such as HR have yet to be fully realized. That could change in just a few years according to Steve Boese, a columnist for HR Executive.
One of the ways HR can benefit from conversational technology is by enabling employees to query information that may be stored in disparate systems and databases, Boese wrote in a recent article for HR Executive. These systems may also have different access protocols, which can make it increasingly more complex for employees to find the information they need. Employees spend a lot of time searching for information — statistics range from 1.8 hours to 2.5 hours per day, up to 30% of the workday — which can have a negative impact on productivity. Implementing a voice-enabled system would allow employees to find necessary information faster by removing some of those barriers to access.
Conversational technology can also take over some common HR requests, such as checking how much vacation time an employee has and requesting time off. A voice-enabled HR assistant can support complex requests such as adjustments to compensation, transfers and promotions because the underlying systems already exist, Boese wrote. The manager can then approve the request with a voice command or via chat. Some companies are already using HR chatbots like Benny – which integrates with Slack – to answer similar questions, but these tools can sometimes struggle with requests that have multiple questions. One solution is to manage employees’ expectations of what the chatbot is capable of.
As HR departments become more comfortable using conversational technology to retrieve information and process requests, the next step will be for the technology to make recommendations based on that data. Since the system will have greater insight into employees’ schedules, it can inform managers when they might need to reach out to contingency workers or contractors.
While conversational technology in HR is still nascent, it has the ability to improve efficiency and productivity by taking over some administrative tasks from human workers and allowing them to focus on higher-priority projects.