Guest post: Thanks to our partnership with Leapgen, we're delighted to have contributions from their team of experts. Thank you to Gail Krieger for sharing her wealth of knowledge in the field of Digital Employee Experience.
The workforce has grown accustomed to searching on Google or asking Alexa a question to get the answers they need. We all have a cell phone and answers to virtually every question can be found in moments using your handheld device. This type of consumerized experience can be applied for more rapid and efficient ways of obtaining answers in the workplace. Across an enterprise, knowledge base articles and Artificial Intelligence (AI) like chatbots can help find answers to “RAD” (repeatable, auditable, and documented) questions from employees. As you investigate the best ways to digitally support your employees in the most frictionless way, consider the concept of “Hearts, Heads, and Hands”.
Hearts represent those interactions that require a human touch and empathy. For these more sensitive interactions, HR would likely work directly with employees who may need to have a direct conversation for such areas as career growth opportunities or a family health crisis. In these situations, HR can offer emotional support and reassurance.
Heads represent data analytics opportunities where interpretations and conclusions may be made based on a combination of information. It requires critical thinking; dissemination of information and drawing conclusions based on data, market conditions, and business needs is also best handled by professionals who have the training and experience to develop ideas and employ initiatives to address workforce and organizational needs. You might consider Hearts and Heads work as the core competencies for HR professionals.
Hands represent those times when there are common requests that can easily be solved by providing fact-based information for an individual to access and act on without support from others. This type of work is typically repetitive, non-critical-thinking work, which leverages existing documentation. Hands work in the context of AI provides interactions in real-time, without having to take HR professionals away from the strategic Heads work or the empathy-driven Hearts work.
Let’s back up a bit and look at some background on the market. According to Gartner, robotic process automation (RPA) remains the fastest-growing software market for improving operational efficiency with tactical automation. Repetitive data entry tasks can be automated entirely using these tools. Over time, the tools have evolved to do more. Using machine learning and bot functionality, RPA tools have become more dynamic, enabling a broader set of automated tasks (not just data entry, but also other actions such as approvals, conditional actions, etc.). If you have tasks that are RAD, these are good candidates for RPA. AI is a form of RPA that has found its way into almost every facet of our lives. While the concept of bots may have initially struck many people as impersonal and the thought of carrying on an online 'conversation' with a machine might feel unsavory, the fact is, chatbots are useful and create efficiencies for the person interacting as well as the business employing the solution.
Chatbots are a natural evolution of Human Resources employee self-service. An example of where it makes sense to incorporate Hands work using HR chatbots is the recruitment process, where bots can direct applicants to open roles based on keywords and language on their resume or application. Bots can also identify recruiter availability and offer scheduling/rescheduling interviews for candidates. Another interesting place is employee benefits and policy inquiries. In this case, examples of use cases for HR bots include inquiries regarding PTO eligibility, how to find a doctor participating in the company health plan, or instructions on how to request a family leave. Additionally, learning and development teams may consider the use of HR chatbots as a virtual HR helpdesk for supporting employees in identifying training courses that correspond to their career growth aspirations. Sticking with the learning and development topic, HR chatbots can suggest educational opportunities to hone specific skills based on the inquiries from employees.
When developing your HR chatbot program, it isn’t enough to identify, purchase and deploy a technology tool. Chatbots vary in levels of sophistication and functionality, therefore, care needs to be taken when focusing on how your HR chatbot will interact with people. Considerations should include the conversational style that is appropriate for your company culture and employee preferences. For instance, some organizations are quite formal while others are more casual. The chatbot language should reflect the style that works best for the company culture.
"When developing your HR chatbot program, it isn’t enough to identify, purchase and deploy a technology tool."
Developing personas that represent your workforce will help you to understand the ways in which people enjoy communicating as well as where and when chatbots can add value. Once you know how your workforce prefers to interact with AI, you can take it a step further to identify where there is friction in the current employee/HR interactions. When you take the time to listen to your employees and ask about examples of positive experiences and those that are challenging, you can identify opportunities for improvement and design HR chatbot experiences that resonate with your workforce based on their needs, wants, and desires.
Employee interactions with HR chatbots that result in positive experiences will encourage employees to leverage your HR chatbots in the future, reserving direct interactions with your HR team for the Hearts and Heads work which are the moments that matter for employees.
About the author
Prior to joining Leapgen, Gail began her career in Human Resources Operations in various industries including financial services, pharmaceutical, technology, retail, manufacturing, and non-profits. Her passion for enabling efficient processes led her to system deployments including UKG, Ceridian, SAP SuccessFactors, and Workday.
Gail holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from SUNY Oneonta as well as a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management from NY Institute of Technology. Gail is a Certified Global Professional of Human Resources (GPHR) and is a Global Remuneration Professional (GRP). She is a Prosci Certified Professional and is Six Sigma Green Belt Certified.