November 4, 2022

Everything you need to know about HR and conversational AI

HR and conversational AI have more in common than you might initially think. From benefits to use cases and what's next, we cover it all.

You’re probably thinking, what does human resources (HR) have to do with artificial intelligence (AI)? Well, they have a lot more in common than you might think. As the name suggests, HR is a human business, and humans communicate using language.

Conversational AI uses natural language processing (NLP), which is essentially AI for language. Since language powers both HR and conversational AI, it makes sense that HR departments use conversational AI to automate tasks and processes that lead to better employee experiences.

The HR department is the one team in a company that connects with every employee. Therefore, it’s no surprise that messages, requests, questions, etc. flood HR representatives. A lot of the incoming questions for HR teams are repetitive, easy to recognize and easy to answer. This is the trifecta for conversational AI automation, making chatbots a win-win for HR teams and employees.

The benefits of conversational AI for HR teams​

💾 Save time and resources​

Imagine how much time your HR team could save if they answered a question once instead of repeatedly answering it multiple times a week or day. By implementing a chatbot to answer employees’ most frequently asked questions, an HR team can save anywhere from 10-20% of their time, depending on the scope.

🧬 Focus on complex issues​

You can repurpose the extra 10-20% of time that your HR team saves to focus on more complex issues. There are always a few employee cases that require extra follow-up, a meeting, some calls and whatnot, that your HR reps now have time to do. Instead of chaining your HR team to their email inbox answering simple questions, they’re able to solve problems and support your employees. That’s the real objective of an HR employee anyway, right?

⚠️ Reduce human error​

Mistakes happen. Whether you miss an email, send the wrong link, forget about a policy update… HR managers are only human. Whereas a chatbot is programmed to follow a standardized logic with pre-defined responses, making small mistakes almost impossible. This way, HR managers don’t waste time and energy memorizing the small details and can focus on the more complex issues mentioned above.

🏢 Reinforce your company culture​

A chatbot is a great way to reinforce your company culture and values. You can design its personality to be exactly who you want it to be, and it’ll never have a bad day! Plus, it’s just as happy answering a question the first time as it is answering it the 200th time.

The benefits of conversational AI for employees​

⚡️ Immediate answers​

A chatbot is available 24/7/365 and can answer an employee’s question in seconds. There are no office hours, long queues or 2-week OoO messages.

🎯 Personalized experiences​

A chatbot integrates seamlessly with your company platforms, making it possible to identify your employees and tailor the bot responses to match their needs and profiles. For example, Kathy from the Chat Team messages the bot on Microsoft Teams and asks for a copy of her most recent payslip. The bot recognizes her work profile and matches it to her file on the company payroll system. The bot then retrieves the link for her most recent payslip and shares the PDF download link via the Teams chat.

Personalizing answers based on an employee's profile is crucial for HR teams since most questions are specific to that employee.

🤝 Interactive communication​

It’s more enjoyable to chat and interact via conversation than create a ticket and send it out into cyberspace, hoping it lands in the correct inbox. By chatting, employees receive immediate recognition of their questions and can follow up with additional questions.

📱 Integrated accessibility​

These days we can integrate a chatbot on almost any channel. That way you can connect with your employees via a channel that they already use. Whether it be on your intranet, in a company app or via workplace messaging (Teams or Slack anyone?), it’s easier to ask a question rather than digging around in an old onboarding document or the internal organogram trying to find the email of your HR business partner.

What are the best use cases for HR chatbots?​

There are so many different ways a chatbot can support your HR Team. Here are some ideas to spark your interest:

  • Conversational job applications
  • Screen candidates
  • Schedule interviews
  • Answer (prospective) employee frequently asked questions
  • Build pre-boarding, onboarding and deboarding flows
  • Gather employee feedback
  • Facilitate performance reviews
  • Submit expenses
  • Request holidays
  • Share shift schedules
  • View payslips

For a more detailed business case, check out our work for Proximus HR or dive deeper into the topic with 6 ways to use chatbots as part of your HR automation strategy.

What's next for HR and conversational AI?

HR teams will continue to adopt conversational AI at varying rates depending on their company’s digital maturity and willingness to innovate. Here are our predictions for how we think AI will change HR teams in the coming years.

Most large companies will have a robot on their HR teams​

Robots are available and scalable. As companies work towards digitization goals and automate internal processes, they’ll turn towards a bot for support. If you’re curious to know more, check out 5 reasons why your next hire should be an HR bot.

Handovers to online HR agents will replace shared HR email addresses​

A great chatbot never works alone. It’s usually backed up by a team of human colleagues who take over the conversation when the bot can’t continue. This means that instead of employees actively sending a question to a shared HR email, they’ll start chatting with a chatbot. When the bot needs additional human support, it’ll bring the employee directly in contact with an HR representative via an offload or live handover flow.

Chatbots will become the centralized interface for all internal needs​

Instead of having an email for payroll, a website for mobile expenses, an app for holiday requests and a phone number for healthcare benefits, we see all of this coming together in one chatbot. Not only is it easier for employees to use– they just need to visit one place– it’s easier for HR teams to manage.

NLP will become the main engine behind process automation​

Since HR is all about communication and language, it makes sense that conversational AI will become the main engine for automating HR tasks. From immediately answering questions to directing employees to the right contact, chatbots will take the lead in increasing HR efficiency.

Bots will conduct screening interviews​

We expect larger corporations to adopt bot-run screening interviews over the next few years. Asking basic questions and evaluating the responses compared to a clear rubric is a task that a bot can easily take over. Just as you would teach a junior recruiter what to look for in a candidate, you can teach a bot the same. Automating the screening process will free up recruiters to focus on the interviews where emotional intelligence is required.

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