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The AI Question

04 January 2024

Story by
Simon Kent Head of Content – The HR World

Human hand holding a wooden block with the word AI. Concept. Conversation with artificial intelligence. AI technology changes the world, including AI that causes people to lose their jobs, etc.

As the New Year gets underway one issue for HR that is set to continue to raise questions and challenges over the next 12 months is the use of AI.

While interest in the technology dominated last year through the use and potential of generative AI, questions remain over when, how and how much AI is likely to intrude on or enhance the work of HR professionals.

Surge of AI interest

According to future of work specialist and HR World columnist Dr Naeema Pasha, the surge of interest in AI and related technology came in part as a result of the pandemic. One impact of this, she argues, was to push HR leaders into a race against each other to implement and leverage the technology. Driven by the fear of missing out, Pasha says the urgency was understandable, but left some HR professionals feeling uncomfortable with the speed of change. “AI promises to transform talent recruitment,” she says, “automating tedious tasks and potentially improving the candidate experience. Chatbots powered by AI now answer questions, schedule interviews, and even analyse applications for job matching, making hiring faster, easier, and even more fun – which HR leadership will welcome and is ideal for candidate engagement.”

“When it comes to talent, AI is very much with us,” asserts Simon Reichwald, Chief Progression Officer at Connectr. “As with all big tech changes there is a concern it will change everything and a fear it will lead to huge negative impact on those working in talent.”

However, he continues: “I have been in talent long enough to remember when job boards came into being and a belief it would decimate the world of recruitment, whereas in fact it has become a key tool. I am sure AI will become the same powerful tool for us all in talent – and for our candidates and employees, – and those who seek to learn about it and embrace it will be the winners.”

Getting the balance right

Ann Chambers, HR Director at Ecotone UK strikes a more cautious note, identifying areas of talent attraction and management that she believes can only be executed but a human: “Even though advancements in AI are able to sift through CVs, the only way to truly identify the right talent and assess a potential new employee is through personal connection,” she says. “We don’t currently use AI at Ecotone UK and don’t plan to at this stage, although the central HR team in Ecotone are taking a look and trialing this in a number of areas.

“The nuances in transferrable skills that we look for in our roles is currently something I’m not confident AI can process,” she continues. “My understanding is that it can search keywords and needs to have very clear parameters given to it in order to get the best outcome, which is helpful – but when they’re not clearly described, there is still room for confusion and the possibility that a great candidate will be rejected.

“If you’re looking to find that close match between someone’s values and your business’s values, I think this is an area that the AI platform needs to improve upon and for us to gain confidence in its use.”

Chambers still believes AI will make a difference but says HR needs to take advantage of what it can offer in a considered way.

“For me, the gut feel is vital – and without a holistic view on compatible personalities and passions, you can risk recruiting the wrong person. You can’t rely solely on AI. A 360° view inclusive of a mixture of interviews, case studies, and coffee moments with other employees, is a much more effective way to make your final selection.”

Watch this technology space

The jury is still out while the technology continues to advance. Certainly topline HR professionals will want to keep up to date with AI this year and be ready to exploit the benefits it brings in the best context possible.




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