Chatbots are making their way into HR. At the beginning of this wave of change, we predict chatbots will change the relationship people have with HR technology. As the application of this technology matures, it will fundamentally alter the relationships people have with each other.
The Fundamentals of Chatbots
Chatbots are software robots that enable technology to interact with humans on human terms. With a well-trained bot, users can say or type what they need, and the bot will locate and provide information, answer questions, and take any action you train them to do. These virtual assistants can be trained to handle repetitive tasks that would typically require users to log in to an HR application, remember how to use it, and adapt unique their human needs to preconfigured lists of values designed for clean reporting.
With these capabilities, we understand why many organizations choose to apply bot technology to HR self-service as a first effort. It has a profound impact on the user experience, and it makes HR more efficient by handling many tasks and requests formally handled by humans. The quick return on investment makes it easy to build a business case.
However, there is much more to chatbots than efficiency. As chatbots grow into maturity, they will make both your HR group and the people it serves more connected and productive. The underlying technology in chatbots, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), has a significant impact on operating costs, but it also shifts human effort from routine tasks,1 allowing them to focus more on building human relationships that foster creativity and innovation.
How Chatbots Will Change Relationships
How do these efficiencies in communication translate to higher value-add activities, and what are those activities? We explored three situations where we see significant gains.
Chatbots in Recruiting
Communication with job candidates influences how people feel about joining an organization. In a 2017 study, IBM found that only 57% of candidates said they were kept well informed during the hiring process, and only 63% were very satisfied with the candidate experience. Applicants who had a good experience were 38% more likely to accept a job offer. The study also found an impact on attitudes toward the company and subsequent sales.2
Chatbots handle many of the routine communications that recruiters can often forget, like acknowledging applications and resumes, sending reminders about upcoming tasks, scheduling interviews, and even administering assessments. The big bonus here is that they can help overcome the lapses in communications that make applicants vulnerable to being snatched away by competitors.
What’s the value-add for recruiting?
Recruiters have more time to work with hiring managers. According to research by Bersin by Deloitte, that relationship is the most influential predictor of talent acquisition performance.3
Recruiters have more time to work with prospects and candidates. The most effective recruiters are those who build relationships with potential employees. Top candidates are much more likely to want to work for an organization where they have a positive relationship with people in it.
Chatbots in Learning and Development
L&D has gone through some rapid changes in the past few years. We have new delivery modes in e-learning, instant video, and micro-learning. Adaptive learning driven by artificial intelligence promises to take learning on the job to a level of effectiveness we could not even imagine just a couple of years ago.
All those changes have brought with them a new world of complexity to both L&D staff and the people they serve. Chatbots hold the promise of making that complexity manageable.
Even without AI, chatbots can reduce the complexity of learning for the end-user. Instead of searching through catalogs, course lists, YouTube, the intranet, and who knows where else, users can tell chatbots what they need, and a chatbot will deliver.
Chatbots can be trained to offer up suggestions for learning based on an individual’s career development plan or find recommendations for a new learning path. They could also handle many more time-consuming repetitive and mundane tasks, like managing an individual’s training calendar, locating resources, and producing reports.
Support libraries for administrators can become conversational helpers instead of inanimate lists of technical material. They can even be trained to manage routine, repetitive tasks.
What’s the value-add for learning?
Finally, we can bring learning into the flow of work. What employees need information, learning in the moment, or a refresher on a new procedure, they don’t need to stop what they are doing and search for what they need. They can assign that task to a virtual assistant who will never tire of being helpful. Your people can spend their time learning instead of searching for what to learn.
Chatbots in Performance
The transition from annual performance reviews to ongoing conversations about performance is a long-term culture change project. Anything we can do to facilitate the conversations can be a benefit to both employees and their managers.
Knowledge workers can spend up to 40% or more of their time looking for information they need to do their jobs. Imagine how you could help them by providing a virtual assistant that has indexed every resource in your content repositories.
What’s the value-add for performance?
How about reminders for busy managers? Think about a virtual personal assistant the will do this:
“It’s been over a week since you talked with Brenda about her project. Should I make an appointment for you?”
“You asked me to remind you to discuss training progress with your team this morning.”
“Jack’s report was due yesterday.”
“Your team meeting is tomorrow. Let’s develop the agenda. You can dictate it to me.”
Imagine how your managers will feel when they can view any employee profile, any report, and their management coaching resources merely by asking for them.
The Limitless Opportunity of Chatbots
The examples given above are only a few of the possibilities for chatbots to improve communication and performance in your organization. Employee self-service is an excellent place to start, but we encourage you to move on to more sophisticated and productive applications as you can. The possibilities are endless.
Chasma Place, is an independent source for solutions that will help you keep pace with changes in the way your people work without ripping and replacing your existing systems.
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