Much like the industrial revolution modernized manufacturing, AI and machine learning will revolutionize the way we work. According to McKinsey, “half of today’s work activities could be automated.” And a Pew Research Center study finds 77% of Americans think it’s realistic that robots and computers might one day be able to do many of the jobs currently done by humans, with 20% describing this prospect as extremely realistic.
For some, this might bring about some angst. But for others, according to Pew Research, “technology represents a largely positive force that makes their work more interesting and provides opportunities for career advancement.” Let’s explore some possible ways in which AI in human capital management (HCM) systems could make our jobs more interesting and allow us to work smarter.
Routine tasks are things that are repetitive and possibly mundane but necessary, whether done daily, weekly, or monthly. Most of these tasks fall into the area of collecting and processing data. AI and machine learning can be used to anticipate what needs to be done and do it, leaving us to just confirm the task, check the work, or execute a transaction. Managers can use AI to look for data anomalies that flag employee attrition trends, identify the best candidates based on criteria provided, or recommend courses based on career plans. Once it has collected the data, a person then can use the information to react or make recommendations. For example, if AI identified an employee that had taken an increased number of sick or vacation days, was working remotely more often, and had applied for job postings within the company, AI would flag the individual so that I know I should have a career conversation with them.
For workers, AI can help with routine tasks such as recommending training, articles, or books based on career level, recent training, topics searched, or career interests. For example, one of my employees wanted to learn more about building and designing reports using business intelligence tools, so I suggested he research best practices for designing reports. It would have been great if, based on what was in his career planning page and searches, appropriate classes were recommended to him on Lynda.com or other sites that offer web-based tutorials and articles.
Nonroutine tasks are activities you don’t do very often and, therefore, need help with—such as changing your beneficiaries on your life insurance, creating a new job posting, or looking for holidays in Romania. Recently, I had to create a new job posting and wished I could just ask a chatbot a question and have it direct me to the correct application and form to fill in. As applications improve, we will start to see more of these capabilities embedded into chatbot functionality. Just tell the system what you need, much like you do with Siri or other intelligent bots, and be directed to the exact application and fields you need to populate. With AI, something that took me 20 minutes to figure out could have been done in two minutes.
AI can help you work smarter with both routine and nonroutine activities so you can focus on activities that are more interesting. Some of the capabilities AI can provide for me as a manager include identifying at-risk employees so I can have a career conversation and keep them in the company, reducing recruiting efforts while increasing candidate quality, and recommending ways to keep employees engaged based on their interests and personality. AI can also help me use my time more wisely by actually participating in training versus searching for training courses, recommending my next career move within the company versus always checking the job postings, and providing answers to random HR questions versus hunting through portals, emails, and documents. I don’t know about you, but I am embracing AI, machine learning, and any other new technologies that can make my life easier, allow me to focus on interesting projects, and enable me to work smarter—not harder.
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