How AI can help managers be more aligned with employees’ needs
Kim Coombs, February 07, 2020
As AI alleviates admin-heavy tasks employees will be able to add a significant layer of additional value to the business. They will also be able to focus on tasks that are more engaging and fulfilling
AI is opening up new opportunities to enhance the human experience and is expanding the remit of the HR function within a business.
It is important for business leaders to consider the introduction of AI-led infrastructure as an opportunity to improve existing, outdated, and sometimes archaic processes and message the benefits of these changes down to managers and employees.
The human experience
With the introduction of AI businesses are positioned better than ever to improve their employees’ human experience. AI is already beginning to streamline admin-heavy tasks to free up time for workers to focus on adding value to the broader business.
For example, team leaders and middle management are often required to make the same decisions over and over, including approving time off requests, approving timecard exceptions and scheduling staff.
If you speak to managers performing these tasks you will often find their perspective is the same: they are repetitive, time-consuming and (while relevant) deliver little value. These are precisely the tasks that AI can tackle first —the routine, daily, difficult processes that will free up the manager to handle more strategic management matters.
With less time spent on high-touch low-value tasks managers can be far more aligned with their employees’ needs, boosting wellbeing and increasing retention.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to learning and development. As the war on talent grows ever more competitive organisations that can provide tailored opportunities to grow will set themselves apart.
Traditionally doing this has involved significant manual workforce auditing and data analysis before programmes can be put in place. However, with developments in predictive and prescriptive analytics this heavy lifting no longer falls within the remit of the HR team.
AI has the power to monitor business performance and create bespoke suggestions around talent management and recruitment. This technology feeds off data so unfortunately this is redundant if HR does not engage with the technology and embed AI into the workforce's natural workflow.
The more HR engages with the technology and nourishes it with use cases the more mature the artificial decision-making will become. Supporting use on this scale requires a significant cultural shift. Once this shift occurs HR can begin to embrace more creative and engaging ways to implement learning and development, with actionable data points already provided for them.
It will be a combination of human and artificial intelligence that will ultimately drive success for the future enterprise. For an AI implementation to demonstrate its full worth businesses need to first fully embrace digital change in every aspect of their business.
Any system is only as fast as its slowest link, and the goal of using AI to free up managers to solve more substantial organisational challenges will never be achieved if manual high-touch processes and policies remain.
Staff must be onboarded and reskilled effectively. The IT infrastructure should be able to support higher volumes of data, and senior management needs to ensure digital transformation initiatives are given adequate funding and support.
As AI alleviates admin-heavy tasks then roles and responsibilities will begin to shift, enabling the workforce to add a significant layer of additional value to their business. More importantly, workers will be able to focus on tasks that are far more engaging and fulfilling. This can only be achieved if HR teams begin to adopt this technology and implement new processes to support AI adoption in the wider business. The winner in all of this will ultimately prove to be the human experience.
Kim Coombs is talent director, EMEA at Riverbed Technology