2018: When AI will humanise the workplace - HR Trends for Australasia

29 Mar 18

Article written by Oracle senior director for HR Transformation Rowan Tonkin

The rapid growth of workforce data has led to a transformation in the way organisations are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to develop and personalize their HR services and building a more compelling and attractive Employee Experience (EX) for their people. AI has already transformed HR Insights and now drives nearly every component of a HR strategy. We have seen the same transformation with Customer Experience (CX).

There are many parallels between designing a delightful customer journey and delivering an engaging employee experience. With the ever-intensifying war for talent, heightened focus on employer brand/reputation and an increasing demand to bring humanity to work, there has never been a better time for HR to adopt a human mindset and leverage technologies that have proven effective in transforming customer and employee engagement.

Workforce automation and agility become top priorities as the pace of change in markets, business and technologies accelerate.

In the last few years, the creative disruption caused by technology is rampant and breathtaking – think what Uber did to the transportation industry, AirBnB to hospitality, and Amazon to retail. For companies to thrive in the face of ever-accelerating change, they need to excel at adapting to fast-changing market dynamics, customer demands and technological innovations.

This requires a fundamental shift in thinking about your workforce. It’s no longer just about hiring employees, but rather maximizing productivity by combining tasks that can be intelligently automated and those that require human intervention. In 2018, HR organisations will start working with lines of business to enhance workforce productivity by leveraging an array of automation technologies such as AI, robots and customer and employee self-service.

According to the Forrester 2018 Predictions Report, automation will eliminate 9% of U.S. jobs, but will also create 2% more that will support the “automation economy.” HR must work with business leaders to model the future workforce and reassess hiring and staffing plans, taking into account the impact automation will have on new job roles, skills and processes.

The rapidly changing business landscape also means HR needs to focus on workforce agility.  Not only does HR need to help the lines of business acquire the right mix of skills by tapping into an increasingly global, mobile, virtual, and contingent (and Gig) labour force, but they also need to dynamically model the workforce to fulfil business needs. Just as marketers use customer data to predict what they likely want to purchase, HR will be using contextual data and workforce modelling technology to short-circuit problems like attrition and turnover, better understand their workforce and talent pool, and fuel smarter and more successful hiring practices.

Employee experience becomes more human, aided by the rapid adoption of intelligent technology tools.

Businesses have long recognised the importance of delivering a delightful and memorable experience for their customers. As millennials and Gen Z become the largest share of the global workforce, more organisations will be applying the same mindset of designing a differentiated customer experience to keep their own employees engaged and productive.

Central to this philosophy is concept treating employees as holistic human beings who seek meaning, value, connection, recognition, and personal growth at work. Additionally, they also expect from work similar experiences with technology that they are accustomed to in the consumer world – intuitive interfaces, quick responses, and access to real-time information.

In 2018, we will see exponential growth in the use of AI, chatbots, machine learning, mobile solutions, and social platforms to make work more enjoyable, simple, and engaging. Gartner sees the rapid adoption of chatbots, conversational user interfaces, facial recognition, and other intelligent agents as tools that will rapidly transform HR business processes such as benefits enrolment, onboarding and recruitment. According to Forrester, by the year 2021, more than 50% of enterprises will be spending more per annum on bots and chatbots creation than traditional mobile app development.

AI for recruiting becomes a competitive necessity.

The war for talent in Australasia is as fierce as competition for customers. The need to attract and retain top talent is only getting more pronounced as employees are expecting more from the places they work. According to Forrester, in 2018, talent issues will only widen the divide between digital predator and prey; and organisations struggling to attract scarce talent will spend up to 20% above market.

This year, AI for recruiting will become a dominant theme for HR technology. Recruiting leaders will leverage AI to gain deep insights into talent needs, understand where and how to source candidates, reduce time-consuming activities like manually screening resumes, and identify the right candidates from a large applicant pool.

According to the Forrester 2018 Predictions Report, by 2020, candidates applying to jobs at 20% of large global enterprises will also interact with chatbots before recruiters. Organisations around the world will be implementing virtual recruiting assistants, powered by natural language processing technology, that instantly engages with applicants, poses contextual questions based on job requirements, and provides personalised updates, feedback, and suggestions.

The merging of the marketing brand and employer brand enables the company to deliver a much more authentic and differentiated brand promise.

While the practice of branding is traditionally managed by marketing, organisations have realised that a brand promise can only be authentically realised when it’s supported by a firm’s culture and employees. It’s more important than ever for marketing and HR to more closely align their culture-building efforts and how they position themselves to potential customers and job candidates.

In 2018, marketing and HR will work more closely together to ensure that the promises represented by the external brand is aligned with the realities of the internal culture, employees and infrastructure. HR will also start adopting a marketing mindset and leverage technologies that have proven effective in transforming customer engagement to strengthen their culture and employee advocacy.

HR will partner with marketing to use crossover marketing techniques such as omnichannel communication, community nurturing, and multi-touch campaigns to enhance employee engagement and strengthen employer brand. The end result: a much happier and engaged workforce, which in turns leads to more delightful and differentiated customer interactions, brand loyalty and business success.

As we respond to the transformation that is the Future of Work, 2018 will be the year HR starts their “digitalisation of HR” and reap the benefits that savvy marketing teams have enjoyed while leapfrogging ahead of their competition.

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