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AI in HR – Trends and Cautions

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making its presence felt in HR, and with good effect. Let’s look at some common trends, as well as examine a few cautions to be kept in mind when deploying it.


1. HR Operations – At a basic level, AI is helping HR automate routine administrative tasks. Conversational AI using chatbots helps HR respond to employee queries and service tickets with high speed and accuracy. Typical tickets on leave, tax, reimbursements, HR policies, etc. can be easily handled through AI-powered chatbots, without any manual intervention. This minimizes the time spent by HR on administrative tasks, releasing time for higher value-adding tasks like employee engagement and strategic interventions.’

2. Recruitment & Selection – The recruitment function is using AI to streamline the entire process from resume submission to releasing the offer. Resume screening is one of the highest time-consuming tasks for a recruiter. AI significantly reduces this time by using intelligent software which ranks candidates and auto-matches them against vacancies based on job requirements. Recruitment chatbots help in replying to candidate queries and also help save the recruiter’s time.

Even more exciting is the use of AI for predicting candidate success at the company. AI processes data about previous hires in the company (their education, experience, tenure, skills, etc.) and correlates it with their performance. Based on this intelligence, it helps rank and shortlist the strongest candidates. Digitized interviews use AI to assess a candidate’s body language, word, and speech patterns to see if they fit the role and the company culture.

3. Learning & Development – AI is used in learning and development to suggest courses to employees based on their developmental needs. Employees may have different learning styles, and AI can cater to this by personalizing the delivery mode based on the employee’s learning style. It may offer video-based courses to an employee who prefers learning via videos, and it can offer similar content as text-based articles to other employees who prefer to learn by reading. AI-powered gamification, quizzes, and assessments are helping increase learner engagement and learning retention significantly.

4. Engagement and Retention – AI is being used to conduct sentiment analyses for employees regularly. It provides data on disengagement and attrition risk. HR can then use this data to intervene proactively by nudging the manager to have a conversation with the employee, or take any other needed action. It is also a good way of letting employees know that their voice matters, and will be heard. 

5. Performance Management – AI-based performance management systems enable continuous feedback and agile goal setting. Instead of an annual appraisal, continuous feedback from the manager and other stakeholders significantly increases objectivity. It reduces problems like the recency effect, where managers are disproportionately influenced by the employee’s latest success or failure.  It collects year-long data on performance and feedback and uses it to provide a realistic picture of the employee’s performance, not only from the manager’s perspective but also from stakeholder perspectives.  

This data has predictive power as well. In terms of succession planning, it can help match possible successors with the job profile. It can help in making career moves, by predicting the probability of an employee’s success in a future role. It can also help make better decisions in identifying high-potential candidates. 


It is important to keep these 3 cautions in mind when starting on the AI journey in HR :

1. Culture precedes Technology – We have heard of the famous quote by Peter Drucker “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. He was right, and culture will also eat technology for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Jokes apart, culture has to precede technology. E.g., if you introduce an AI-based performance management system that works on continuous feedback, but your leaders are accustomed to giving feedback only once a year, then your fancy AI system will fail. The right way to implement change is to first make the move to a feedback-rich culture. Train leaders on the importance of giving feedback, and how to give feedback. Implement processes to ensure that continuous feedback is being given. And only then install a technology that automates this process.

2. Augmented Intelligence – AI can help make better decisions by eliminating human errors and biases. However, we cannot completely do away with balanced human judgment. It’s important to view AI as an augmentation of human intelligence, instead of as a complete replacement of it. Hence, the term “Augmented Intelligence”.  We need to understand how AI works, the models it uses, the calculations it does, and how and when, or when not to intervene manually. Ignorance of how AI works to give predictions/outcomes can lead to costly mistakes.

3. Retain human touch – It’s important to know where to draw the line between machine interaction and human touch. We do not want to be in a situation where gains from cost savings and efficiency are at the cost of disengagement and alienation of the workforce. The human touch and uniquely human capabilities like empathy, listening, and caring are crucial for an organization. They are precious enablers of engagement and performance and need to be retained appropriately for an organization’s success.

Author – Gulshan Walia,  HR Consultant & Coach at Infinitzus Consulting

Gulshan Walia is a Human Capital consultant and coach. Her areas of expertise include coaching, leadership development, behavioral training workshops, HR processes, performance management, strategic HR, organization development, career planning, and high potential development. More details about her work can be viewed at


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