March 11, 2019 | By

AI IRL Podcast Episode 10: Using New AI to Solve Old HR Problems

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You may not think of your Human Resources department as a center of innovation but HR is using tools like AI to focus on how to develop people, acquire new talent, and other ways to better engage with employees.

To find some of the latest cutting edge insights in HR, we recently spoke with Jo Deal, the chief human resource officer at LogMeIn, a computer software company in Boston.

Winning the War for Talent

What brings talent to your door is giving your employees a great place where they know that the work they do is making a difference.

But the experience you offer workers is what keeps them there.

One of the newly required experiences is universal access to instant information. Younger employees have been Google-ing since they were in their cribs. They want answers to their questions now.

Providing real-time accurate information when employees need it, not when someone’s free in the HR office, made using AI a tantalizing possibility.

AI in HR

Bottom line, using AI within HR gives everyone a better return on their time.

People don’t only think about benefits when it’s open enrollment. They want to find the quickest way to get an answer about vacation days and vision plans. When employees can engage with an HR platform and get what they need when they need it, their employee experience is better.

One of Deal’s team leaders is “all about bringing sexy back to HR.” AI technology had already been deployed as part of LogMeIn’s Slack channel. Users could ask it anything and get the answers in real time. Why not apply that to open enrollment?

The ensuing chatbot was nicknamed Benny (for benefits), and it launched during the annual open enrollment period. HR hoped it would answer some of the thousands of employee questions that they expected.

Of the 2,000 inquiries that came in, Benny handled over 1,500.

This did not render any staff redundant. It simply freed a lot of time for the human staff members to do things that only they could do.

AI Learns on the Job

The best thing about using AI for this kind of Q&A system is that the knowledge base continues to improve. Each one of those 1,500 questions made Benny smarter. Next year, the HR staff will just have to update Benny with the updated plan configurations.

AI can also point toward the future. Benny can show that a lot of people need help selecting between policies, for example, so the staff can subsequently build this tool.

It’s a big upfront investment, but the return on it is amazing, and it gets better and better each year. It improved the quality of life for the employees and the HR staff.

Now the international offices of LogMeIn want to use Benny, too. Deal is fielding questions from 15 different countries. This has brought a new round of challenges with the different forms of spelling and syntax that non-US English speakers use. Even something as simple as how you format the date is causing headaches.

The sky’s the limit on what AI can handle. Future acquisitions and onboarding 800 people in a day should be no sweat.

Predictive Analytics

HR lives and dies by data, like any other part of a business. But what really helps is predictive analytics. Trends are well and good. But being able to anticipate that a software engineer in Canada is likely to leave and will need to be replaced would be hugely valuable.

Then you can start anticipating and engaging in corrective action rather than being behind the ball and solving with one-size-fits-all solutions, which don’t work in a global organization. Having those analytics helps you be smarter about what to do next.

You also can create a feedback loop to test things through Benny. If HR can’t decide whether to offer soy milk or almond milk in the cafeteria, the next time someone comes to ask about the vacation policy, they can help by answering three fun questions about non-dairy options. This, in turn, creates more data for the AI.

And, hopefully, more happy employees during their coffee break.

This AI discussion was taken from our podcast.  If you want more AI: In Real Life, check out our podcast on iTunes.

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