Artificial intelligence in HR: Employee experience gains with AI


Depending on who you listen to, artificial intelligence might be the greatest advancement since the printing press—or an existential threat to jobs, our way of life, and even humanity itself. Or anything in between. 


But however you look at it, there’s no question that AI is revolutionizing the way we work.


Smart analytics give leaders deep up-to-date insights to inform better decision-making. Automating routine tasks makes business processes faster and more efficient, accelerating digital transformation in businesses. McKinsey research predicts that generative AI could automate the tasks that make up 60 to 70 percent of employee time


For HR teams too, AI holds huge potential for creating a more positive employee experience,  which itself is essential for employee engagement, retention, and the productivity and profitability of the business.


Here, we'll look at how employees and HR leaders alike can make the best use of artificial intelligence in the employee experience. However, before diving into practical applications of AI for human resources teams, we first have to acknowledge that many employees are nervous about AI in the workplace, and need their HR teams to reassure them.   




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Why people are worried about AI in the workplace

Ask a natural language processing app like ChatGPT to sum up in a sentence how it will change the world of work, and it will tell you: 

AI will revolutionize the future of work by automating routine tasks, augmenting human capabilities, and reshaping industries, leading to increased efficiency, new job roles, and the need for continuous upskilling.


Which sounds great. But of course, it would say that, wouldn’t it? In fact, many people remain resistant to using AI at all—and HR teams need to understand employee concerns, and help mitigate those concerns.


The most common fears around AI are: 


1. Fear of replacement

The fact is, for many tasks, conversational AI can do in the blink of an eye what a person could spend hours on. According to the OECD Employment Outlook, 27 percent of jobs are at high risk from automation, especially in highly skilled fields such as law, science, and business.

However, AI is better at some things than others.

As Dan Turchin, CEO of People Rain, writes in Forbes: “What can be predicted is better left to machines. What requires rational judgment will always be better left to humans.”


💡How HR can help
Reassure employees that AI is being used to augment their productivity and make their job more enjoyable, rather than to replace them.


2. Lack of awareness and trust

Employees may feel overwhelmed—even threatened—by the rate of change. Indeed, Canva found that more than a quarter of surveyed employees said they have pretended they know more about AI than they actually do. 

What’s more, they may be concerned about privacy and data security—especially when it comes to HR data, which is often especially sensitive. 

“Many employees feel they have been left behind by technology,” says entrepreneur and investor Matthew Ramirez. “They have grown up with the idea that a human being is taking care of their HR issues, so many have concerns with how new technology will handle their personal information.”


💡How HR can help
Ramirez suggests starting small. Allow employees to get used to how AI tools manage low-risk tasks first, and gradually apply it in other ways over time.


As an article in Harvard Business Review put it recently, AI won't replace humans, but humans with AI will replace humans without AI. For employees and HR teams alike, this means learning to work with AI to enhance the employee experience.


3. Bias

Recent trials have demonstrated that AI-driven HR algorithms have replicated racial and gender bias in recruitment recommendations. This is because AI is only as good as the data it can access. If there is bias in the data, there will be bias in the AI. This is where HR teams need to be vigilant to weed out any unintended output and ensure equity and fairness are maintained.

“We realized early on the need for human oversight and critically assessing AI outputs,” says Janice Burns, Chief Transformation Officer at learning platform Degreed. “As AI gains prevalence, it proves that corporate learning and power skills like critical thinking are critical.”


💡How HR can help
New technologies will naturally be treated with caution, even skepticism, by some. For leaders and HR teams, it’s vital to treat those concerns with openness and respect.

“Employees’ feelings about AI vary,” says José Moya, Outreach Manager at Capicua Full Stack Creative Hub. “Some have concerns about job security: others appreciate AI's efficiency and support. Ultimately, clear communication about the role of AI and its benefits is crucial in ensuring a positive perception among employees.”


With that in mind, let's turn to how AI can improve the human side of the employee experience.


Employee experience and AI

AI systems can be a powerful ally for HR teams looking to improve the employee experience. Here are just a few of the ways you can harness artificial intelligence for the benefit of your workforce:


1. Making workflows smoother

Using AI tools can help employees make work processes leaner and more efficient. For example: 

  • Automatically generated digital forms with auto-complete fields can make for faster, more accurate, and more accessible processes.
  • Intelligent searches give each user the results and responses they need for their individual workflows.
  • “AI serves as a potent tool in crafting a more bespoke work environment,” says Theresa Fesinstine, founder of Culture Markers and “For example, it can formulate adaptable work schedules that resonate with an individual's prime productivity periods, nurturing operational efficiency and holistic well-being.


AI is just one of many elements that can maximise the ROI of your employee experience platform (EXP). Learn more about how Digital Employee Experience can unlock your team's potential and impact your bottom line significantly in the webinar below.


2. Finding HR information more quickly 

AI tools for HR can let employees self-serve their queries about benefits, payroll, or time off, without having to open a ticket with HR. This doesn’t just save everyone time—having the autonomy to manage their own HR issues and troubleshoot their own problems can improve employee engagement. 


“Chatbots connected to an employee’s HRIS record can answer questions like ‘Have I accrued enough time to take a sabbatical?’ or ‘Who do I contact about medical leave?’” explains Ayanna E. Jackson, founder and Leadership Coach at AEJ Consulting LLC. “Rather than requiring HR time to look up records, calculate time, or run an eligibility report, AI can provide this information faster.”


3. Personalizing digital platforms 

Instead of having to sift through generic catch-all content, AI-enabled platforms like Applaud can offer each employee a UI that reflects their particular priorities and preferences, so that everyone has their own unique view.

For example, Applaud’s upcoming release, Marquis, will offer AI-powered items, such as News, Knowledge Articles, and Upcoming Events, that will adapt and update to each employee’s patterns and preferences.


4. Tailored L&D and career development

AI tools can also make learning and development more personalized. By analyzing past learning patterns, predictive analytics can identify skills gaps and offer smart suggestions and recommendations for learning resources. In this way, they can steer employees towards the skills they most need to develop for their career progression. What’s more, by improving the efficiency of workflows, employees can have more time available for ongoing upskilling.

“Right now, the average employee spends only 24 minutes a week learning,” says Janice Burns, “But with the half-life of skills ever-decreasing, time saved by AI can be used for learning that will help to keep workers’ skills more up-to-date.


How AI benefits HR departments

When employees can self-serve many of the routine HR needs with automation, bots, and personal assistants, it reduces pressure on HR teams, so they can focus on creating a better employee experience.


Here are a few ways that AI-enhanced HR software can make HR teams more efficient and effective: 


1. Virtual assistants and AI support

Automating time-consuming repetitive administrative tasks, such as data entry, document management, and reporting, helps make HR processes much more efficient. As a result, HR teams can focus on the human side of human resources, prioritizing strategic initiatives that can have a major impact on organizational culture. 



2. Improved recruitment and onboarding

Automated interview scheduling, application screening, applicant tracking, and onboarding take a lot of the administrative burden from HR teams and help to eliminate human error or oversight. 

Intelligent onboarding also makes for a smoother experience for candidates and new hires. 

Chatbots and virtual assistants can offer quick and personalized responses, while AI-powered training helps to ensure consistency, compliance, and task completion.


3. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)

Unchecked AI can replicate human biases,  but, when properly implemented, it can also play a role in eliminating hiring bias. AI tools can be used to craft inclusive job descriptions and anonymise applicant screening so that skills and experience take precedence.


4. Smart analytics

One of the greatest strengths of AI is the speed at which it can handle and analyze large datasets. AI-driven analytics helps HR teams identify trends and provides them with data-driven insights that can inform and improve their talent acquisition strategies and performance management.

“AI is a powerful ally for HR teams,” says Theresa Fesinstine. “It brings in a level of efficiency and data-driven insights that were previously unattainable. It can assist in predictive analytics and sentiment analysis, enabling a proactive approach to HR management.”


5. Enhanced data security

AI tools can offer highly advanced protection of user accounts. For example, Applaud's upcoming Marquis release will quickly flag up unusual usage patterns and suspicious activity, and automatically warn users or block accounts.  


How to get the best out of artificial intelligence

AI in business is here to stay. So, having looked at how artificial intelligence can help your HR teams enhance your business’ employee experience, what’s the best approach to encouraging employees to engage with it? Here are 4 strategies:


1. Involve employees

It’s important that employees feel part of the AI integration process, and that their input matters. Actively engage with employees and seek their concerns and opinions with pulse surveys. Encourage them to start using AI in small, manageable ways, so that they gain confidence and experience in how it can benefit them.

“It is imperative that you stay human on all key touch points,” advises John Pennypacker, VP of Sales & Marketing at AI service provider Deep Cognition.  “My advice is to strike a balance. Use AI to automate and make processes efficient, but don't forget the human touch, to employ empathy and emotional understanding."


2. Be transparent

Employees and new hires will tend to be more trusting if they understand how and why your HR teams use AI. Let job candidates know that you use AI tools and tests in the recruitment process. Make sure employees understand that AI can be an enhancement to their roles, not a replacement for them.


“The perception of AI depends on how it is introduced and integrated into the workplace,” explains Theresa Fesinstine, “In my experience, employees tend to embrace AI when they see it as a tool that enhances their work experience, rather than a replacement or a surveillance mechanism.”


3. Provide training

The artificial intelligence field is changing rapidly, so it’s vital for teams and individuals to be able to adapt to the changes. Use your Learning platform to provide employees, HR teams, and managers with accessible online training and upskilling on how to apply AI tools and processes to their work tasks.  


“We see AI as a way to accelerate our innovation,” says Janice Burns. “Everyone is on an upskilling journey to build AI skills like prompt engineering and to critically assess its output.”


4. Be vigilant

As much as automation and AI facilitate work processes, human oversight is still vital. To ensure errors and historical biases don’t slip through the cracks, it’s important that HR information systems have clean and thorough data sets.


“An HR, Legal, and IT partnership is a must,” advises Ayanna E. Jackson, founder and Leadership Coach at AEJ Consulting LLC, “All three should be involved in how AI is utilized and monitored, what systems it will access, and what checks and balances will ensure fair and consistent use.


Enhance your employee experience with artificial intelligence

It can be hard to keep up with the pace of change, especially when it comes to the breathtaking expansion of artificial intelligence in the workplace. But by treating AI as a work support partner, employees and HR teams alike can enhance not just productivity but the overall employee experience. 


From reducing administrative burdens to streamlining workflows and supporting learning and professional development, AI tools have the potential to make working life better. To discover how Applaud’s upcoming release, Marquis, can help your teams make the most of AI, request a demo.



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Published September 26, 2023 / by Applaud