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The Impact of A.I. and Automation on HR and Recruitment, and How Can Everyone Pivot & Adapt

Tue, 2 Apr 2024

The Impact of A.I. and Automation on HR and Recruitment, and How Can Everyone Pivot & Adapt

As we step further into the 21st century, the influence of technology on our everyday lives continues to surge, shaping how we work, communicate, and even how we hire.

One of the most exciting and, dare we say, slightly intimidating advancements in recent years is the rise of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and automation.

Artificial intelligence (A.I.) and automation have moved from science fiction to our everyday reality, redefining a multitude of industries, including human resources and recruitment.

But what does this mean for businesses, recruiters, and job seekers? How can we all pivot and adapt to make the most of these changes?

Welcome to our latest article, where we delve into the fascinating intersection of A.I., automation, and the ever-evolving world of HR and Recruitment.

Let's explore the impact, challenges, and opportunities these technological advancements present and how we can all skillfully navigate this new terrain.

Understanding A.I. and Automation

Before diving into the impact on HR and recruitment, let's first demystify A.I. and automation, two tech juggernauts revolutionising the modern workplace.

You've likely heard these buzzwords, but what do they mean?

Artificial Intelligence, often called A.I., is a specialised field in computer science that aims to construct systems capable of replicating human intelligence. It's the technology that powers aspects like your voice-activated assistant, text predictions, and tailored suggestions.

Automation, on the other hand, is a technology designed to perform tasks without human intervention. It's the reason you can schedule emails, automate reports, and even have a robot vacuum-clean your house.

Why should you care?

Well, these technologies are becoming increasingly prevalent in workplaces across the globe.

They are making operations more efficient, enhancing precision, and liberating employees to concentrate on tasks with more strategic importance.

A 2022 survey by Employment Hero reveals that a substantial 82% of human resource leaders in Malaysia concur that artificial intelligence can enhance their job performance and save them valuable time. 

This essentially implies that A.I.'s potential in transforming HR operations is being increasingly recognized and positively received by industry professionals in the country.

To leverage A.I. and automation, organisations need to adapt their recruitment strategies and rethink their approach to HR.

And that's what we'll be delving into next.

A.I.'s Role in Modern Recruitment

Let's explore how A.I. is revolutionising the recruitment process.

Streamlining the Recruitment Process

Artificial Intelligence is akin to possessing an ultra-intelligent aide who is constantly alert, swiftly sorting through a plethora of resumes and profiles.

A.I. can spot the perfect candidates for a job, looking for exactly what you want - skills, experience, qualifications - you name it!

Imagine having a chatbot that can do the first round of interviews for you. It can answer all the questions candidates have, give them all the info they need, and even do a quick assessment.

It's like having your very own unbiased interviewer, ensuring every candidate is judged purely on what they bring to the table.

Plus, think about all the time and resources you could save and use elsewhere.

Pretty rad, right?

Enhancing Candidate Experience

Let's talk about candidate experience - it's key when hiring.

When candidates have a great experience with your company, they're more likely to spread the good word about your brand. On the flip side, a bad experience can really put a dent in your reputation.

Now, here's where A.I. can step in and work its magic.

Picture this: a chatbot powered by A.I. that can answer candidate queries instantly, making the whole experience more interactive and engaging. Pretty cool, right?

A.I. can also serve up a personalised experience for candidates. It takes a deep dive into a candidate's resume and online profile, then suggests jobs that align with their skills and preferences.

It's a win-win situation.

The candidate benefits from a more enhanced experience, and you boost your potential to locate the ideal match for your organisation.

Reducing Bias in Recruitment

The old-school way of hiring was pretty subjective, and let's be honest, we humans can sometimes be a little biased.

But here's where A.I. comes in. What this means is that A.I. is like that fair judge we all want, making the hiring process more objective and just.

It has this knack for sifting through truckloads of data and spotting trends that we mere mortals would probably miss. Plus, it's smart enough to overlook things that might make us biased, like age, gender, or ethnicity.

The result? A diverse and inclusive workforce mirroring the incredible variety of our world.

A.I. in Onboarding, Training, and Performance Management

A.I. isn't just useful in the hiring process. It can also assist with onboarding new employees,

Here's an example.

A new employee steps into your office on their first day, a little nervous but excited to begin. Instead of being overwhelmed with stacks of paperwork and hours of orientation videos, they're guided through an engaging, personalised onboarding process.

This is made possible by A.I. It can streamline and automate routine tasks, giving your HR team a breather and your new hire a warm welcome instead of a barrage of administration.

A.I. can offer a customised onboarding experience, learning from the employee's responses and adapting the induction program to suit their needs.

In addition, instead of one-size-fits-all training programs, A.I. can curate personalised learning paths based on each employee's skills, job role, and learning pace.

This makes training more efficient and ensures that it's relevant and engaging for the individual.

And let's not forget performance management - a critical but often challenging aspect of maintaining a happy and productive workforce.

With A.I., you can take the guesswork out of performance assessments. A.I. can provide unbiased, data-driven insights into each employee's performance, highlighting strengths and identifying areas for improvement.

This can lead to more accurate evaluations and targeted development plans. 

Chatbots as the First Point of Contact

We did mention chatbots in the first point, so let's expand more on that.

Chatbots, those friendly little digital helpers, are increasingly becoming the first face - or shall we say interface - that candidates meet in the recruitment journey.

Imagine stepping into a company's recruitment process and being greeted not by a human but by an interactive, A.I.-powered program. This is the reality for many job seekers today.

These chatbots are like round-the-clock front desk attendants, always ready to assist with a warm, virtual smile.

They are there to answer any candidate's question, from the company's work culture and values to the specifics of the role being applied for. They are like a helpful guide, offering insights into what life at the company might be like.

But these chatbots aren't just about answering questions - they can also take on more administrative tasks, such as scheduling interviews.

Remember the back-and-forth emails trying to find a suitable date and time?

Now, a chatbot can look at both the candidate's and the interviewer's availability and suggest the perfect slot. It's like having a personal assistant, making life easier for both parties.

The value of these chatbots extends to the HR team as well.

By delegating routine tasks and initial inquiries to a chatbot, HR professionals can concentrate more on the strategic elements of their job.

They can spend time assessing a candidate's suitability for the role and the company culture rather than repeatedly answering the same questions.

Challenges of A.I. and Automation

A.I. and automation are not without their challenges, so let's explore some of the potential obstacles that HR and recruitment professionals may face in implementing these technologies:

Challenge 1: Integration of A.I. and Automation

Integrating A.I. and automation into existing HR and recruitment processes can seem like a massive undertaking at first. 

These 'newcomers' can initially disrupt the familiar routines and systems that your HR team is used to. Just imagine, one day, you're manually sorting through stacks of resumes, relying on your intuition and years of experience to identify potential candidates.

The next day, an A.I. system quickly scans through hundreds of applications, analysing data and identifying suitable candidates in a fraction of the time. It's a massive shift, and it's not surprising that it might cause a bit of an upheaval in the beginning.

Moreover, there's the challenge of training the HR team and other staff members to use these new tools.

It's a bit like teaching someone how to ride a bike - they might stumble and fall a few times, but with time, patience, and the right training programs, they'll eventually get the hang of it.

Challenge 2: Lack of Personal Touch

Artificial intelligence (A.I.) and automation may have taken over repetitive tasks, freeing up time for HR professionals to pay attention to more strategic aspects of their job roles.

However, despite these fantastic advancements, there's one element that technology has yet to master: the human touch.

The human touch is the empathy, understanding, and unique communication skills that only a person can bring to the table.

It's the comforting voice on the other end of the line when an employee is going through a tough time or the understanding nod when someone is explaining a complex situation.

It's the skill to interpret implicit meanings, notice understated signals, and react with genuine feelings.

No matter how advanced A.I. and automation are, they simply cannot replicate these deeply human traits.

In the HR world, personal interactions matter a lot.

From hiring and onboarding to training and resolving disputes, a human-centric approach plays a crucial role. Employees need to feel seen, heard, and understood, and that's something that a machine, no matter how sophisticated, cannot truly provide.

This isn't to say that technology doesn't have its place.

They can automate mundane tasks, analyse massive amounts of data, and even help with decision-making. But they should be seen as tools to support the human elements of HR, not replace them.

Challenge 3: Navigating the Intricacies of Data Privacy and Security

In today's digital age, the advent of A.I. and automation has revolutionised how we work. But, with great power comes great responsibility—especially when managing sensitive employee data.

The task is akin to carrying a glass filled to the brim with water. One wrong move and the consequences can be messy, if not downright disastrous.

One thing that may come to our mind: Data breaches.

When employee data—be it personal information, payroll details, or confidential records—falls into the wrong hands, the repercussions can be severe.

Not only does it jeopardise the trust between employees and the organisation, but it can also lead to legal repercussions and damage the organisation's reputation.

And then comes the cost. Implementing top-notch security systems can be a significant investment.

It's like buying a high-end lock system—you know it's essential for your security, but it does make your wallet a bit lighter.

Challenge 4: Potential for Bias in A.I. Algorithms

A.I.'s potential for bias is a significant concern, especially regarding its use in recruitment and HR decisions.

This is because A.I. algorithms are typically trained on data that's been generated by humans, and let's face it, we humans are far from perfect.

More than half (55%) of HR leaders in Malaysia have voiced their concerns about the ethical implementation of A.I. in HR, primarily highlighting issues of bias. 

They worry that the use of artificial intelligence might inadvertently promote unfair practices or discrimination in human resources management.

Our societies are riddled with conscious and unconscious biases, and when A.I. learns from this data, it can inadvertently pick up on and perpetuate these biases.

For instance, if an A.I. is trained on a dataset of successful job applicants where men are overrepresented, it may learn to favour male candidates over women. This could lead to a gender bias in recruitment, where equally qualified female candidates are overlooked simply because of their gender.

Moreover, these biases aren't always obvious. They could be hidden in subtle patterns that A.I. picks up on.

For example, an A.I. might learn to associate certain schools, hobbies, or even addresses with success, resulting in unfair advantages to candidates from certain backgrounds, while others who may not have had the same opportunities are unfairly penalised.

Ultimately, it's important to remember that A.I. is a tool, not a decision-maker. It should aid our decisions, not dictate them.

Challenge 5: High Initial Implementation Cost

Implementing A.I. and automation in any sector, particularly HR and recruitment, can be quite a hefty investment initially.

But let's break this down a bit, shall we?

There are two major factors contributing to this high initial cost - the technology itself and the cost of integrating it into the existing systems.

It's no secret that A.I. and automation technologies are not exactly what you'd call a 'cheap affair'. Right off the bat, procuring the technology can be quite costly.

Whether it's an advanced A.I.-powered recruitment software that can sift through thousands of applications in a heartbeat or a sophisticated automation tool that can handle repetitive HR tasks, the price tag attached to these marvels of modern technology can be pretty significant.

The initial financial outlay for personalised A.I. solutions can begin at a modest amount of around RM29,000 (US$6,000) but can drastically escalate, even exceeding RM1.5 million (US$300,000). 

The variability in cost is due to the complexity of the A.I. solution, the technology used, and the specific customization requirements by the client.

And then, there's the aspect of integrating this technology into your existing systems.

It's a bit like bringing a new player into an already-established team. There will be a period of adjustment, of figuring out how to make everything and everyone work together seamlessly. It's no different with A.I. and automation.

There's a cost attached to training your staff on how to use these new tools, as well as the potential cost of any downtime or disruption while the technology is being implemented.

Another factor to consider is the cost of maintaining and updating the technology.

Like other technologies, A.I. and automation are not a one-off investment. They require consistent updates to maintain peak performance and to stay in line with the ongoing developments and improvements in the field.

This can also add to the initial cost of implementation.

Challenge 6: Dependence on A.I. & Automation Technology

Undoubtedly, A.I. and automation have not only streamlined the hiring process but also made it more efficient and effective. However, while the benefits are significant, an over-reliance on these technologies could potentially lead to several challenges.

Imagine this scenario: It's a Monday morning, and the HR department has a busy day ahead.

There are dozens of potential candidates that have to be screened, numerous interviews that need to be scheduled, and several other HR-related tasks that need to be accomplished.

Traditionally, this could be a daunting task for any HR team. But thanks to A.I. and automation, these tasks can now be easily handled.

But, what happens if there's a technical glitch or a power outage?

What if the software crashes or the automated system fails?

If we are heavily reliant on technology, such issues could bring the entire HR operation to a standstill.

Moreover, if the system is not functioning properly or there's a misinterpretation of data by the A.I., it could lead to wrong decisions being made.

For instance, a potential candidate could be rejected because the A.I. system misunderstood certain information in the resume. This could lead to missed opportunities and may also affect the company's reputation in the long run.

In addition, a heavy reliance on technology could also lead to a decrease in human interaction, as mentioned earlier in our second point.

Strategies for Adapting to A.I.-Driven HR Practices & Automation

With that said, here's what organisations can do to pivot and adapt to A.I.-driven HR practices and automation:

Embracing a Learning Mindset

Adapting to A.I.-driven HR practices and automation requires a shift in mindset. We must cultivate a learning mindset that values continuous education and development.

As machines take over routine tasks, employees can focus more on expanding their skills and knowledge. It's not just about understanding the technical aspects of A.I. but also about appreciating its potential and the opportunities it can create.

Harnessing the Power of Data

A.I. thrives on data. The more data you have, the smarter your A.I. applications will be.

Therefore, one of the key strategies for adapting to A.I. is to become data-savvy. You need to understand the significance of data, how to interpret it, and how to use it to make informed decisions.

Being data-savvy also means ensuring the quality of your data.

Poor quality data can lead to inaccurate predictions and recommendations from your A.I. tools. Therefore, you should consistently review and clean your data to maintain reliability and accuracy.

Fostering Collaboration and Communication

A.I. may be able to automate many tasks, but it can't replace human interactions.

That's why fostering a culture of collaboration and communication in your organisation is crucial. Encourage open discussions about A.I. and its implications for your team.

Share knowledge, insights, and best practices about using A.I. tools.

Cultivating Ethical A.I. Practices

A.I. has tremendous potential, but it also poses significant ethical challenges. For instance, A.I. can inadvertently perpetuate bias and discrimination if trained on biased data.

Therefore, do cultivate ethical A.I. practices in your organisation.

This involves developing and implementing guidelines for using A.I. responsibly. It also means training your team to understand and respect these guidelines.

Implementing Change Management

A.I. implementation can significantly change many organisations, disrupting workflows, requiring new skills, and creating uncertainty. That's why effective change management is critical for adapting to A.I..

Change management involves helping your team understand and adapt to the changes brought about by A.I..

It includes training, support, and communication to ensure a smooth transition.

How Can Employees & Job Seekers Pivot & Adapt To The Impact of A.I. & Automation in HR?

Now, how about employees & job seekers? We also got this covered, so let's read on.

Embrace Lifelong Learning

With the rise of A.I. in HR, the demand for tech-savvy professionals is increasing.

Therefore, employees and job seekers need to embrace lifelong learning and upskill themselves to stay relevant in the job market.

This demonstrates a strong readiness among them to evolve professionally and stay relevant in the fast-paced, evolving work environment.

This could mean taking online courses on A.I. and machine learning, attending webinars and workshops, or earning relevant certifications.

Thankfully, nearly two-thirds (64%) of professionals in Malaysia feel confident in their ability to acquire new skills and adapt to future changes. 

Furthermore, soft skills like creativity, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and leadership are becoming more important than ever.

These are skills that A.I. cannot replicate, and honing them can give employees and job seekers an edge over others.

Lifelong learning is about acquiring new technical skills, improving soft skills, and adapting to new ways of working.

Build A Strong Digital Presence

In today's digital age, a robust online presence can be a significant advantage for job seekers.

With A.I.'s help, recruiters can now search and screen candidates based on their digital footprints.

Therefore, it is essential to maintain a professional and up-to-date LinkedIn profile, engage in relevant online communities, and showcase expertise through blog posts or other digital platforms.

Building a solid digital presence is not limited to job seekers.

Even as an employee, showing you are abreast with the latest trends and actively participating in professional communities can make you stand out and open new opportunities.

Harness the Power of Networking

As crucial as A.I. and automation are, they cannot replace the power of human connections.

Networking remains a crucial part of the job search process and career development. It provides opportunities to learn from others, gain insights about the industry, and discover job opportunities that might not be advertised.

Leveraging platforms like LinkedIn, attending virtual industry events, and joining online professional groups can help build and nurture professional relationships.

Remember, while A.I. can help you get your foot in the door, it's your network that can help you climb the career ladder.

A.I. & Automation Are Here To Stay

So, you've seen how A.I. and automation are revolutionising HR and recruitment.

Yes, there are challenges, but with the right strategies, you can pivot and adapt successfully with the right approach.

Embrace these tech advancements - they're not just improving efficiency but also enhancing the human element in HR.

Stay informed, stay agile, and you'll be well equipped to navigate this A.I.-driven landscape.

At Upscale, our talents are trained not only to embrace and utilise A.I. and automation but also to understand the importance of human connections in HR and recruitment.

Our diverse pool of professionals has the skills and knowledge to navigate the changing work landscape effectively.

Reach out to us at upscale.my and explore how our team can support your organisation in harnessing the power of adaptability and agility of our talents.

Remember, it's not just about surviving the wave of A.I. and automation; it's about riding it.