This post is the first in a three-part series exploring the use of AI in HR.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is already a key feature in many people’s lives, including at work. While some AI platforms have been around for years, highly developed intelligence platforms like ChatGPT may become ubiquitous in research-based and problem-solving work environments. Such platforms are still in their infancy, as was the Internet in the 1980s, but they are learning and developing every day and, like the Internet, could become essential parts of everyday life, especially in the workplace.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is the introduction of computer intelligence with data sets used to discover patterns and solve problems. AI is now commonplace in everyday life in devices and programs like Alexa and Siri that use human intervention to perform specific tasks. Programs like ChatGPT – commonly referred to as “generative AI” – are capable of performing complex research, drafting letters and even writing TV episodes and music. These programs may be an integral part of life on and off the job in the not too distant future.
How are companies using AI?
HR departments at a wide variety of companies are currently using AI in several ways, including recruiting and performance management, as well as decision-making and customer service more broadly:
- Recruitment – AI can help streamline the recruiting process by automating applicant screening, identifying top talent and job forecasting. AI-based tools can analyze resumes, cover letters and social media profiles to identify the most qualified job candidates, reducing the time and effort required for recruiters to find suitable candidates. AI can also be used to conduct phone interviews and answer candidate questions.
- Performance Management – AI can help companies monitor and manage employee performance by analyzing data from performance reviews, productivity reports and other sources. This helps identify areas where employees need improvement. Companies can use AI to create customized training specifically for the areas of performance improvement that AI has identified.
- Making a decision – AI can help make more informed decisions by analyzing data and providing insights. For example, AI can help identify patterns in customer behavior, market trends and financial data to inform strategic decision-making. In addition, tech companies are using AI’s ability to plan routes for delivery and ride-sharing drivers. In HR specifically, this decision-making process and the use of data can help determine and project staffing needs for various areas within the company.
- Customer Service – Companies are using AI in customer service to automate responses to customer inquiries, reduce response times and provide personalized recommendations. AI-powered chatbots can answer routine inquiries, freeing up human customer service representatives to respond to more complex issues.
Potential AI issues
Artificial intelligence does not exist in a vacuum. It was created by (imperfect) humans and therefore carries risks. Some significant risks associated with AI in the workplace are:
People creating and coding AI may introduce their own conscious or unconscious biases, or they may not think to guard against certain biases that AI develops.
Tech companies, which may receive more CVs from men than women, ditched the use of AI to screen CVs when they revealed the AI penalized CVs with the words ‘female’ or ‘women’, like ‘women’s chess club’. The same can happen with words and phrases associated with other protected classes.
Similarly, AI is used to conduct telephone interviews and, without appropriate bias correction, may be subject to preference for certain voice variations and response times related to gender, race, national origin, age, or disability.
AI can pose a risk to employee privacy if not implemented correctly. AI-based tools can collect and analyze employee data, including personal information, performance metrics, and communication logs. Companies must ensure that this data is collected and stored securely and that employees’ personal data rights are protected.
The potential of AI is exciting and will likely make work much more efficient for employers and employees in the future. Still, there are many risks associated with AI. Below are some best practices to mitigate these risks:
- Set clear goals – Companies should establish clear goals and criteria for implementing AI in the workplace. This includes identifying areas where AI can be most effective, establishing success metrics, and identifying the resources and budget needed to effectively deploy the technology.
- Carry out a risk assessment – Companies should conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify the potential risks associated with AI in the workplace. This should include assessing the impact of AI on employee privacy and diversity.
- Addiction to the address – Companies must take proactive steps to address bias in AI systems. This includes testing AI systems for biases, ensuring that the training data is diverse, and implementing oversight mechanisms to monitor and correct any biases that arise.
- Regularly evaluate and monitor AI systems – Companies should regularly assess and monitor AI systems to ensure they are functioning as intended and achieving the intended results. This includes reviewing data input, evaluating performance, and making necessary adjustments to the system.
Part II of this series will focus on the legal conflicts companies are experiencing with AI and how to mitigate them, and Part III will focus on what companies need to know about ChatGPT and other generative AI programs as they navigate the future of AI.