The HR chatbots have been here for a while now, but they have made their presence felt post-pandemic in a way never seen before. Now with most employees working remotely and communication going digital, interactions between employees and their HR SPoCs have become intermittent. The use of chatbots, previously limited to customer-facing functions, is becoming the norm in HR service delivery.
Some useful pointers for HR practitioners who are learning to keep their AI-enabled virtual talkers in line:
What are chatbots?
As the name suggests, a chatbot is a bot that chats; a software application designed in a way to carry out a conversation with a user using text or speech via a messaging platform. The use of chatbots is common in customer support, often deployed 24/7 across apps and websites to engage with users. Chatbots are useful in the initial phase of information gathering regarding any queries or complaints that customers have and hold the fort until human representatives can intervene. Since the relevant data about customers’ needs have already been collected thanks to their interaction with the chatbot, the human representatives provide a swift and efficient resolution as soon as they get involved.
How do chatbots align with HR goals and objectives?
HR partners have long felt the need to automate their routine activities in order to focus their energies on value-adding tasks that improve employees’ overall HR experience. Often, they feel that standard procedures such as conducting periodic surveys or responding to FAQs could be taken over by an AI-enabled virtual assistant; a chatbot.
Is an HR chatbot the ideal solution for your workplace?
Now that solution providers have discovered the HR niche for chatbots, they have aggressively marketed their products and ensured that HR leaders in small and mid-size businesses suffer from FOMO when they see their counterparts in large MNCs launching chatbots as part of “innovation” in their HR delivery framework. However, if you are an HR practitioner who must work with a limited budget, perhaps introducing a chatbot would need a participative discussion between the management and the employees in your workplace to ensure their buy-in before going ahead.
What can go wrong with chatbots?
If the chatbot goes untested on a pilot group of employees and is not customized to the business processes unique to your workplace, it might create hassles that frustrate people instead of simplifying tasks for them. The time-tested question of: “Who benefits from the chatbot? Is it HR, is it Management or is it the employees?” must be answered. The best scenario for a chatbot’s longevity is one where it lifts everyone in the organization
Chatbots, Skynet and Judgement Day:
It goes without saying that introducing chatbots to a group of employees comes with a mandatory awareness session of why they are needed. Ever since the pandemic has taken jobs and destroyed livelihoods, employees have become wary of anything that suggests change especially if the term “Artifical Intelligence” is involved. The workplace is going digital faster than a pace many people can accustom to. It is understandable that many employees (even the rational ones) will have an underlying suspicion of being monitored, surveilled, and assessed when they encounter chatbots instead of their human HR representatives and would find it difficult to trust technology with their information.
HR partners cannot forget that with or without chatbots, the “human” quotient in Human Resources is irreplaceable.