The workforce continues to change rapidly. In addition to automating and optimizing HR processes, Artificial Intelligence will transform corporate cultures in a way that will require a new approach.
Much has been written about the potential of cognitive Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems to redefine operations within an enterprise, including the HR department. These ascendant technologies will, among other things, re-prioritize employee roles, reimagine customer interactions and change how workers collaborate with one another.
A rapidly changing workforce will bring unique challenges along with it. An increase in consultants, freelancers and contractors requires new HR strategies that address each category’s specialized needs. Meanwhile, teams that now collaborate across different regions and time zones require an HR solution that is 24/7/365. AI can provide the tools necessary to ensure a unified, modern workforce.
In addition to automating and optimizing HR processes with AI, these technologies will transform corporate cultures in a way that will require a new approach.
Performance Reviews 2.0
When machines automate routine tasks, human roles naturally shift to emphasize uniquely human attributes such as soft skills (or “people skills”) like negotiation and creative problem solving. For example, when AI systems are tasked to handle issues such as password resets, inventory maintenance or digital onboarding, IT staff can use their time to address more complex business needs, like researching and implementing new technologies that will make your company more productive. Automation allows companies to shift priorities away from execution and toward innovation.
This shift will also mean that performance metrics will necessarily move away from quantitative measurements of an employees’ ability to perform routine tasks in a set time period. A customer service representative formally graded on the number of calls handled per month would instead be evaluated by more qualitative measures such as customer reviews from their service experience.
The move from quantitative to qualitative performance reviews will, as a result, require a deeper understanding of each employee’s unique role and personal qualities. The change will likely lead to a positive improvement in company culture. Employees will be evaluated based on skillsets where they excel like creativity, complex problem-solving, and critical thinking—leaving more mundane, routine, tasks to AI technologies.
The ‘No-Collar’ Culture
AI technologies will also lead HR professionals to reevaluate how they provide HR services to employees within their companies, especially with AI poised to upend the make-up of the traditional workforce. Increasingly diverse job titles and a move away from traditional staffing models will require specialized services that help to address an employee’s unique needs. An increase in the use of freelancers, consultants, and contractors will require the implementation of advanced AI technologies to properly integrate and manage the new, “No-Collar” workforce.
Indeed, a recent NPR/Marist poll finds that one in five jobs in America is held by a worker under contract, with some economists predicting contractors and freelancers will outnumber full-time employees within a decade. More than ever, it’s important to find solutions that fully integrate these workers into an organization. AI can help better manage differences in benefits, schedules, and roles—optimizing the HR experience for both HR professionals and employees.
Not only are workforces no longer necessarily comprised of full-time salaried employees, workers no longer even work in the same physical location. According to a recent survey of 18,000 global professionals, 70% of respondents reported working remotely at least one day a week, and 53% reported working remotely for at least half of the week. The adjustment raises a host of new questions—most importantly, how modern organizations can adjust their HR solutions to better accommodate the needs of the new workforce?
In the near future, AI technologies will be invaluable HR tools for companies to provide information and services to a workforce which is increasingly likely to be spread out across physical locations and time zones. AI will be used to power intelligent virtual agents who will provide 24/7 access to personalized information and services, regardless of whether requests are submitted after regular business hours. Workers will have a greater ability to independently locate answers to their questions, and resolutions to their issues, with little-to-no human intermediation.
As the workforce continues to change rapidly, the question is no longer “if” this form of cognitive and transactional automation within HR is possible; it’s when and how companies will implement them into their existing HR teams to help them address the needs of future workforces.