Impact of Machine Learning in HR

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AI & Machine Learning

Like all aspects of modern business, technology is changing the way we operate and function. This applies to all departments in the company and Human Resources is no exception. Just because it has the word human in the name does not mean that technology can’t be an invaluable aid.

From cloud computing to mobility, big data, VR and augmented reality, blockchain technology, Internet of Things” (IoT) and a range of emerging and developing technologies are now finding their way into the more enlightened HR departments of many companies.

One technology that is currently making great strides in streamlining and improving the function of HR is machine learning. The technology itself is not new but the applications for human resources have only recently started to gain traction, and they are already making a significant impact.

Improvements in natural language processing have already enabled bots or intelligent chatbots to handle a number of HR functions. As more companies move away from traditional email and use group messaging platforms, the opportunity for smart assistants to take over functions such as scheduling, project development, and general communication has grown exponentially.

Just like automated or robotic vacuum cleaners or floor scrubbers can free labor up to handle more cognitive functions in a cleaning environment, machine learning can handle a large amount of the more mundane, repetitive and time-consuming HR functions.

Before going any further on the impact of Machine Learning in HR, let’s understand the basic definition of Machine Learning.

Machine Learning is the science of getting computers to learn and act like humans do, and improve their learning over time in autonomous fashion, by feeding them data and information in the form of observations and real-world interactions.

How it does is using lot of Machine Learning Algorithms. The algorithm is either grouped by learning style (i.e. supervised learning, unsupervised learning, semi-supervised learning) or by similarity in form or function (i.e. classification, regression, decision tree, clustering, deep learning, etc.). Regardless of learning style or function, all combinations of machine learning algorithms consist of the following:

  1. Representation (a set of classifiers or the language that a computer understands)
  2. Evaluation (aka objective/scoring function)
  3. Optimization (search method; often the highest-scoring classifier, for example; there are both off-the-shelf and custom optimization methods used)

The fundamental goal of machine learning algorithms is to generalize beyond the training samples i.e. successfully interpret data that it has never ‘seen’ before.

This will free up the HR staff to allocate more time and resources to all important human interactions and work on more strategic projects. They will be free of the time previously spent on the mundane repetitive but essential HR tasks that are required on a daily basis.

Machine learning can already efficiently handle the following:

  • Scheduling of HR functions such as interviews, performance appraisals, group meetings and a host of other regular HR tasks.
  •  Analytics and reporting on relevant HR data
  •  Streamlining workflows
  •  Improve recruitment procedures
  •  Reducing staff-turnover
  •  Personalize training
  •  Measure and manage engagement
  •  Enhance rewards and recognition programs

As machine learning gains a deeper understanding of the company and has absorbed all relevant information, machine learning will be able to:

  •  Identify knowledge gaps or weakness in training
  •  Fine-tune and personalize training to make it more relevant and accessible to the employee
  •  Become a resource for information and questions related to company policies, benefits, company procedures and basic conflict resolution
  •  Aid in performance reviews
  •  Track, guide and enhance employee growth and development

Insights from data

HR gathers vast amounts of data on all aspects of employee activity but without some form of machine learning to digest and analyze this information and present usable reports, it will be near impossible to identify important trends, threats, and opportunities. The data needs to provide meaningful usable insights and machine learning can do this.

Workflows can be improved, training outcomes will be better understood and hiring trends, sick days and vacation requests can all be optimized through machine learning.

The future of machine learning in HR

The human element of HR will never disappear but machine learning can guide and assist to ensure the functions of these departments are streamlined and faster while strategic and day to day decisions will be more accurate.

These are exciting times in the HR industry and it is important that those involved are aware of the solutions already working as well as new trends that continue to develop. Improving recruitment, training, development and retention will have a profoundly positive effect on a company’s bottom line.

Those companies that are slow to adapt the new opportunities provided by machine learning will soon find themselves at a competitive disadvantage while those using them successfully will flourish.