AI and Digital Assistants are changing the Workplace
There’s a new boss in the workplace: Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is everywhere today and is changing the way we work, think and behave. AI has the capability to help search for job candidates, onboard, and develop and monitor employees in the workplace, while at the same time assisting business leaders to make better-informed decisions (analyzing a vast amount of data and searching for patterns). Technology is moving so fast that we even have humanoids interacting with people and learning from them.
Humanoids in the workplace
Sophia is the first humanoid with a nationality—she was granted Saudi citizenship last year and became the first robot in the world to achieve such a status. Sophia, created by Hanson Robotics, described herself as “the world’s most advanced humanoid robot.” However, Sophia is far from being human, according to chief scientist and CTO Ben Goertzel: “Sophia is a sophisticated mesh of robotics and chatbot software; it doesn’t have the human-like intelligence to construct its own responses. Sophia is more of a user-interface than a human being—meaning it can be programmed to run different code for different situations.”
As we adopt and integrate AI into our personal lives, we can also expect AI to have a massive impact in the workplace. A Russian start-up has created a new way to help companies connect with job-seekers and interview them. Her name is Vera, and she’s able to interview as many as 1,500 job candidates in a single work day and also sends customized follow-up emails. The big difference between Vera and a human is that Vera works full time for free and never complain or ask for benefits.
Alexei Kostarev, co-founder, explained: “the process starts when companies provide “Vera” with a job description and interview questions tailored to their employee search. The robot is linked to sites with job postings like CareerBuilder, Avito, and Super job, allowing her to review online résumés and cover letters and match them with job openings. Once a match occurs, Vera calls the candidate.” She is fluent in English and Russian. Here is the bottom line: welcome to the era of Intelligent Recruiting and as a business leader you need to prepare your organization for this change
Tracking employees to boost productivity
Companies in China are using brain sensors to monitor employees’ emotions. Many organizations in China are using brainwave sensors to train workers and screen for mental fitness. More than a dozen factories require workers to wear devices that use AI to monitor their emotions. While companies said that the aim of this technology is safety, the implications for workers are countless. Is this really about safety or about productivity?
Status Today, a London-based start-up, offer the same service in European markets: “Status Today’s AI platform relies on a regular supply of employee metadata, including everything from the files you access and how often you look at them when you use a keycard at a company door.” The objective is to monitor human behavior. Knowyourday is another employee monitoring solution powered by AI. The company uses AI to track how employees handle various aspects of their jobs. But what about privacy? Do employees need to give up on their rights in the workplace or at home? What are the legal and compliance limits for companies who do use these tools?
Digital HR environment
AI-HR start-ups have been quick to appear and are offering digital assistants, machine learning, chatbots and augmented-writing solutions, creating a digital employee experience in the process. Here are some examples:
1. Sourcing: Wonderkind chooses the best platforms to place your job ads.
2. Candidate screening & assessment: Harver’s technology gives candidates a preview of their future job and the work environment. Paradox Olivia and Textrecruit are AI assistants and focus on candidate capture, screening, scheduling, and candidate communication.
3. Onboarding: Enboarder is digitalizing onboarding to ensure that it is personal and practical.
4. Coaching: Saberr is boosting team performance and coaching abilities to align talent and culture.
5. Learning: Everwise and SimpliLearn offer employees self-paced, interactive learning courses, but also tailor training solutions at enterprise scale.
6. Performance: Emcompas and Impraise automate performance and create a feedback culture by using regular check-ins and follow-up conversations.
7. Career Development: Gloat, Talentoday, and Wade & Wendy are AI platforms that help people discover career opportunities and reduce the mismatch between individuals and companies.
Challenges for organizations
The same technologies that are making intelligent homes and boosting customer experience are coming to the workplace to change the way we deliver results. Furthermore, the way managers lead will change since machines will be interacting with humans and assisting employees on a daily basis. As a result, early AI technologies are driving organizations to realign their corporate strategies and customer value creation. Instead of hiring the candidate with top qualifications for a specific job, organizations are now putting greater emphasis on cultural fit, flexibility, creativity, and collaboration, knowing that individual contributor roles will have to change according to the digitalization of the workplace.
These evolving technologies will augment human capabilities, but they also raise a number of questions. How are human and machines going to work together? What rights will humanoid workers hold? What jobs and activities will be automated? How does the workplace need to be reconfigured? All these technologies are still in early their stages and are not 100% functional, and in some cases, the human brain remains more accurate until these technologies develop further.
According to Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte, “AI is definitely not eliminating jobs; it is eliminating tasks and creating new jobs, and the new jobs that are being created are more human jobs.” However, the integration of early AI tools into the workplace is causing organizations to develop collaboration, innovation and team-oriented capabilities, as opposed to the traditional top-down hierarchal structures. Hence, network organizations are rising in the age of AI.
We will see more AI and machine-learning technologies entering the workplace, but as of now AI augments and automatons only perform specific tasks. Although we are still far from bots possessing a “general intelligence” like that of a human brain, business and HR leaders have to be aware that AI capabilities are not the solution for everything. They may create smarter decisions and higher quality solutions, but they have to be monitored and involve reskilling employees to be able to adapt to these changes.
The journey ahead: guidelines to follow
1. Learn about AI and the different technologies and solutions that the marketplace is offering. Be informed about what other companies are doing with regards to AI in the workplace
2. Identify organizational problems to be solved using AI
3. Assess available AI technology that can support your organizational challenges
4. Partner with HR to set up the digital transformation in the workplace
5. Rethink how HR can be redefined, introducing AI technology that can enhance practices, processes and talent capabilities
6. Identify new job roles needed to fully leverage AI in HR and across the organization
7. Upskill and train employees to be able to adapt to work with, and manage AI
8. Prepare a change management agenda to make sure the organization and its business leaders are supporters of the new workplace initiatives
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Albert Loyola is Managing Partner with Ignite Organizations, a talent and organization consulting firm. He serves as a trusted advisor to leadership teams on future workforce strategy, HR technology capabilities and integrated talent and HR solutions, he enables clients to address their future workforce needs and lead change in the face of digital transformation.
Albert is a People Technology Advisor & Speaker on the Future of Work, Employee Experience, Design Thinking and Artificial Intelligence in HR. His work has been featured on different business and HR tech magazines. Albert holds a Master Degree from Cornell University, in Human Resources
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