The Opportunities for AI in HR in 2024

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AI is set to shake up recruitment practices in 2024, but what impact it will have on the workplace, and what does HR need to know before jumping on board the AI train?  

 

Garner’s Workplace Trends report cited AI as a huge influence on working practices this year with a particular impact on recruitment. As organisations grapple with an increasingly competitive job market, leveraging AI in talent acquisition is a no-brainer. AI-driven tools, such as resume screening algorithms and chatbots for initial candidate interactions, have incredible time-saving potential, freeing up resources, saving money and streamlining workflows. And it seems pretty much everyone is on board. According to another Garner study, 81% of HR leaders have explored or implemented AI solutions in their businesses and a further 81% of HR professionals say that AI will become a standard practice in recruitment within the next five years. The latest research released in January 2024 by The Fossway Group also revealed that 72% of HR leaders said that they plan to expand their use of this burgeoning technology. 

Recruitment pros and cons 

Currently, AI is being primarily used in recruitment. It has been lauded for its speed in the identification of suitable candidates as well as promising to eradicate bias in hiring decisions. By analysing vast datasets, AI algorithms can make objective assessments, minimising the impact of unconscious biases that are unfortunately present in human decision-making. In theory, this indicates that AI will foster more inclusive hiring practices thus boosting diversity in the workplace. That sounds like a win-win. 

However, caution must be exercised. A balance between technological efficiency and ethical considerations is paramount. The main concerns are regarding the potential reinforcement of existing biases within AI algorithms if they are not carefully designed and monitored.  

PwC’s 2023 Global AI Survey found that 72% of business leaders believe ethical considerations are crucial in AI adoption. “If you’re using AI in recruiting talent or in the development of people within an organisation, you can’t make any decisions solely via AI and it likely contravenes GDPR,” says Emilie Forrest, founder and AI lead at FreeFormers, a CX and EX specialist. “Everybody has the right to have a final decision made about them by a human. If you’re using AI to help you make decisions about whether somebody should be promoted, whether somebody’s met their targets, how they’re achieving I think that is a real conundrum and one HR needs to take control of,” she says.  

To ensure transparency in any AI-integrated practice, HR needs to put robust policies in place and adopt a proactive approach – evolving and adapting these to accommodate the dynamic nature of AI technologies. Clear guidelines on the responsible use of AI tools, data privacy, and employee rights in an AI-driven workplace are essential. Collaboration between HR departments and IT specialists is crucial in designing policies that strike the right balance between innovation and ethical considerations. 

Jon Fletcher, Chief AI Strategist at The Learning Performance Institute (LPI) recommends that HR and L&D develop their own ethical AI principles. They could include things like Transparency, Human-Centricity, Fairness and Inclusivity, Learning, Privacy and Security, and Accountability. There are several frameworks that HR can utilise such as the CIPD’s advice sheet on Preparing your Organisation for AI Use. 

Wider workplace applications and effects 

The second Gartner trend refers to the broader integration of AI within the workplace, extending beyond recruitment. As AI technologies advance, the potential for automating routine tasks and augmenting human capabilities becomes more apparent. This has the potential to reshape job roles, allowing employees to focus on higher-value tasks that require critical thinking and creativity. 

ChatGPT, for example, is becoming increasingly popular in content generation. According to the Learning & Development Global Sentiments Survey: AI in L&D: The State of Play, the use of OpenAI’s ChatGPT reached 100 million active users two months after launch and by October 2023, it reached 180 million users. Employees can leverage AI-powered platforms to draft emails, reports, or other written content more efficiently, allowing them to allocate more time to complex problem-solving and strategic decision-making. 

Skills training the AI way 

Some organisations are beginning to use AI in their L&D practices too. It is helping to upskill workers and create quality content quickly, facilitate assessments, identify skills gaps, monitor career pathways and even provide coaching. Much of the work AI undertakes are mundane time-consuming tasks which then frees up the trained professionals to concentrate on using their core skills. 

Beauty giant, Loreal, for example, uses an AI assistant called Mya to train new recruiters. It answers questions about company policies, and job requirements, each time learning from these interactions so that it can fine-tune and improve the process.  

Building awareness and understanding among employees about the ethical implications of AI usage in L&D is paramount. Training programmes should not only encompass the technical aspects of AI but also emphasise the importance of maintaining human oversight and ethical considerations, and should not be a replacement for thoughtful, considered and professional training practices. 

Cons of AI in L&D 

Like many things, overreliance on technology will cause skill degradation. As routine tasks are automated, employees may become lazier, and this is where HR professionals play a pivotal role in mitigating this risk. This can be done by implementing continuous learning programmes that focus on developing complementary skills and emphasising adaptability in the face of technological advancements.  

Forrest says that HR should play around with applications to see what work and what doesn’t. She also recommends sense-checking everything that is produced with applications like ChatGPT: “At the moment, AI is good at the mundane, but you cannot trust it. You need to carefully fact check everything that your department produces and think more about curating the myriad of content that already exists, rather than creating it,” she advises. 

Undoubtedly, the integration of AI in recruitment and other daily operations holds incredible potential. From enhancing efficiency, and boosting diversity in hiring, to improving skills, the benefits are substantial. However, embracing AI requires a cautious and strategic approach to navigate potential pitfalls. With the right policies, checks and measures in place to ensure a slow, steady approach to AI integration in the workplace, HR should be able to harness the power and minimise the risks.