For years now, artificial intelligence (AI) has been a buzzword for companies looking to boost revenue and improve performance. But, while a future in which robots operate near autonomously, producing our material goods and running our services, might be the goal for some, many still see the danger of marginalizing the human workforce. What has received less attention, but I would say was even more important, is how AI can be used to enhance the employee experience, rather than replace it.
At the core of any AI system is data, vast amounts of it. That means, regardless of the function of your AI, you will inevitably be gaining grand and detailed insight into whatever your data describes. This insight can be used for any number of practical benefits, from employee satisfaction to eased workloads and increased revenue. Sometimes, it’s a question of directing the insight in a specific direction. Instead of asking how AI can boost productivity, ask how companies get better at engaging their staff and their consumers? The result is the same — engaged staff are more productive — but the former privileges the human experience.
The following examples show how AI insights can deliver benefits to your employees and how human and AI workers can collaborate to make a more effective and positive working environment.
The biggest attraction of AI, arguably the primary motivation for all computing, has been to offload repetitive or mechanically arduous tasks from humans onto machines. While this inevitably changes the nature and value of work and may have serious implications for the future of employment, for now AI is the go-to method of getting menial tasks done quickly and (cost) efficiently.
As it currently stands, this holds clear benefits for current human workers. By freeing employees up from working on time-consuming tasks, often considered intellectually beneath them, AI can give workers the time to learn new skills or develop their current ones, leading to more experienced and valuable employees.
Janet Teo of Hyperlab demonstrated how AI can help with a repetitive workload with their Intelligent HR Assistant, built to communicate on HR issues with staff. As with any large company, the HR of this bank was inundated with messages from staff members inquiring about policies, benefits and all manner of HR questions. The Intelligent HR Assistant was integrated with the HR management system and trained on previous communications to understand 10,000 inquiries and create automated processes. In 2018, this Assistant exchanged 60,000 messages to over half of the bank’s staff.
One of the most common repetitive tasks is recruitment. It’s an inevitable fact that companies will continue to grow, exponentially increasing the number of employees required to run them. In this oversaturated job market, artificial intelligence can be used to ease the pressure on recruitment managers, helping to screen candidates before a human being is even involved in the process.
Take an example of a global investment bank. It might screen over a thousand applicants with a goal of hiring only a handful for one country, maybe even one office. The work hours required to whittle down these applications would be enormous, especially at the early stages.
This example is another challenge that Janet Teo was faced with, so her company modified their Intelligent Assistant to help with the screening process. The Assistant was loaded with psycholinguistic information specific to the bank’s core requirements, such as digital literacy, analysis skills or personality type. Then, with the help of machine learning, the Assistant was able to sort through the mass collection of applications.
One of the greatest uses of humanized AI technology is in how it can personalize experiences for individual workers. According to a Gallup poll, 67% of employees are not engaged in their work and a further 18% are actively disengaged. The cost of this lack of engagement was estimated to be $7 trillion dollars.
It’s clear that traditional models are not working anymore if they ever really did. Millennials and other generations accustomed to technology are becoming an increasingly large part of the workforce, and they are no longer satisfied with traditional methods of workplace development and training programs. AI can be used to update eLearning for the modern age, with tailored gamified programs underpinned by the latest information from tech scientists.
Personalization can also be used in customer-facing design to help build a stronger connection between brand and consumer. Just as internal technology can be tailored to individual employees, AI can help organize your marketing strategy to be specific to each individual user and their unique data points. Capitalizing on this individuality could mean the difference between personal experience and a generic one, which is a huge deciding factor in the minds of the user.
AI is so often associated with cold, emotionless tasks that it’s easy to forget that it can be used for social benefit in the workplace. Instead of relying on tired, outdated methods of employee engagement, companies can now tap into the huge bank of data its employees generate that indicate their emotional state.
“Consciously or unconsciously, all of us indicate our life satisfaction every day with our word choice and emoji usage,” says Linda Cartney, a tech blogger at 1 Day 2 Write and Nextcoursework, “but there is a whole range of data that indicate how engaged we are in our work lives. At its core, AI operates on data, and data does not have to be cold and emotionless (even though a lot of it might be), it can also track emotional points.”
Say, for example, you want to use AI to improve employee retention. With as much as 25% of staff leaving jobs within the first 6 months, it’s an area that needs great attention. While you can’t necessarily distill all the multitude of reasons someone might leave a job into a single data point, you can track things like performance and job satisfaction. Combine these with newer analytical approaches like sentiment analysis and a more detailed matrix of an employee’s state of mind begins to emerge. Over time you can compare this with when staff leaves the job and you can develop a warning system that predicts if workers are dissatisfied and likely to quit.
Combining the threads of emotional connections and personalization, AI can also help improve and sustain communication across a company and to its consumers. With the use of user data, experiences in the digital world are becoming more personal and unique, so relying on one way of communicating is becoming more and more outdated. Users and employees alike are getting really good at sniffing out a generic copy and it can instantly sour a relationship.
AI can help you maintain a consistent tone for your content while personalizing the message you send out. By doing this, you are still communicating the core culture of your company, but in a way that is relevant to each individual recipient rather than to a general idea you have decided upon. This means you can get your message across to a whole range of demographics, both within and without your staff, in a way that engages them specifically.
The beauty of AI programs is that they become more and more autonomous as they learn, increasingly freeing up time. The benefits of totally autonomous systems have yet to be fully discovered, but their impacts would certainly be wide-ranging. We are already nearing a point that customer communication is largely handled by automated systems, allowing staff to focus on the more complex issues in more detail. Think of an AI that delivers personalized on-the-job training for employees throughout their time with a company, with little to no effort on the part of the staff. The possibilities are nearly endless.
As Esme Mackenzie, an AI writer at Write My X and Britstudent, says: “we must remember that AI, like any other computing technology, is a tool, something to help humans do jobs better, not another worker to do jobs in our place. The danger arises when we confuse these ideas and render ourselves useless.”
While AI is often seen as this robotic, inhuman force, the common theme across all of these examples is that using AI can free us up to be more in touch with human experiences. It can help track how people work, what motivates them and how they engage with their surroundings. It then uses this information to improve the human experience, hopefully contributing to better work-life satisfaction and a more personal, engaging experience.
It is important to focus on the human benefit of AI for this reason. If we see AI as a route to more revenue or greater productivity, we remove it from its human source and necessarily marginalize ourselves in our own workplace. Instead, think of AI as a way to facilitate our own growth, to ease our relationship with technology and each other, and enhance our current lives, not as a way to build a new one.
Mildred Delgado is a twenty-four-year-old marketing strategist at Academicbrits.com and PhDKingdom.com. She works with marketing teams to create sites that highlight the best aspects of the company. Mildred presents this information in a series of marketing proposal slideshows. You can find more of her work at Academic Paper Help.
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