Forget tedious job interviews and timesheets – the latest HR management trends are all about tech

Boosted by cutting-edge technologies, intelligent tools are slowly replacing inefficient, outdated practices, elevating HR to a higher level.
Industries
Management
  • Smart algorithms disrupt the recruitment process
  • Intelligent robot agents could eliminate bias in the HR department
  • Facial recognition helps HR departments keep a close eye on employees
  • Cutting-edge tech shapes the future of HR

The pandemic has shaken industries across the world, disrupting the way we live and work. Without so much as a warning, the coronavirus outbreak has caused immense damage, claiming not only human lives, but putting a heavy burden on businesses as well, many of which have already collapsed. Forward-thinking organisations that had already embraced digitalisation across departments, however, including human resources (HR), have been somewhat ready for the corona-blow and have managed to manoeuvre their business models and switch to remote work.

Proliferating intelligent technologies and big data analytics have made an impact on human resource management. The increased application of cutting-edge technologies is one of the driving factors behind the global human resource management market reaching $38.17 billion, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 11.7 per cent in the period from 2020 to 2027. Such a steady market growth is a clear indicator that we will see more businesses adopting intelligent HRM tools that can be easily integrated with smart and connected devices and provide valuable information to improve existing business models and HR practices. 

Smart algorithms disrupt the recruitment process

As much as 52 per cent of talent acquisition leaders admit that the biggest challenge of recruitment is screening candidates coming from a large applicant pool. These numbers illustrate that the hiring process is not an easy feat. There is always a mountain of paperwork and data to go through, and omitting applications is not an option as that might result in potentially rejecting the best candidates without even knowing. Artificial intelligence is one of the current key trends in recruitment and with good reason. A modern AI-based tool comes with natural language processing (NLP) that enables understanding of unstructured language, and computer vision (CV) that allows comprehending visual content. All this offers an entirely new way of recruiting staff and encompasses finding the right candidates, screening, conducting often elaborate interviews – depending on the position – and finally choosing the best person for the job. 

Finding the best talent for your company can be time-consuming and a rather costly process. Given that a typical hire can take up to four weeks and cost up to $4,000, HR departments are increasingly turning to intelligent algorithms to ensure accurate matching, saving both money and time. One of these efficient AI headhunters is Helena, developed by recruitment platform Woo. According to the company’s founder Liran Kotzer, Helena’s results are impressive. As much as 52 per cent of candidates that Helena perceives as valuable end up scheduled for an interview. Helena’s performance even beat her human colleagues whose average number is somewhere around 20 per cent. Kotzer also pointed out that, often, a staggering 95 per cent of the time and money spent on recruitment is wasted. “When you have talent and employers trying to find each other – 95 per cent of both of their efforts are going on filtering each other. Even if they go to an interview, most interviews end without a hire, so that’s another point where both parties filter each other out.” 

And Helena is still learning. Woo put together a team of people who, in the past, recruited for leading tech companies like Facebook and Google, to provide behavioural data that’s fed into a system. The outcome of the process was rather interesting. While human recruiters would dismiss certain candidates based on their profile, Helena would still ‘hunt’ them. Often, Helena’s candidates ended up going through the process and even got hired in the end. “For me that’s the most amazing thing going on right now, because Helena is being able to open more opportunities for more people and putting more candidates on the radar,” underlines Kotzer. The benefits of Helena are twofold. Firstly, jobseekers whose profiles don’t quite match with the position might still end up being hired, based on their experience or other, for the company, valuable skills. Secondly, companies could hire talented people that show huge potential, regardless of their previous experience, and these candidates could end up growing together with the company.

Intelligent robot agents could eliminate bias in the HR department

Trying to make a good impression during a job interview can be a stressful experience. And despite your impressive CV and credentials, you might be rejected not because you lack qualifications, but because your interviewer thinks that you may not be a good fit. An assumption is of course seldom a dependable parameter. In the near future, however, you might find yourself trying to impress a bias-free, intelligent robot. Instead of using human recruiters, Swedish recruitment agency TNG has started using an AI-powered robot head called Tengai. Comfortably placed on the table so she’s at eye level with the interviewee, this 41 cm tall robot weighing 3.5 kg conducts test interviews. Tengai’s greatest advantage is that she eliminates conscious and unconscious bias. For instance, HR recruiters often like asking questions about a person’s likes and dislikes, which undoubtedly influences the opinion of the agent. If candidates are asked whether they like tennis, and that happens to be the recruiter’s favourite sport, those candidates could gain an advantage – completely unintentionally and at a subconscious level. TNG’s recent survey showed that a whopping 73 per cent of job seekers in Sweden believe to have been discriminated against while applying for a certain position, which illustrates the importance of excluding any bias from the recruiting process. And that is precisely TNG’s goal. Elin Öberg Mårtenzon, chief innovation officer at TNG, explains the idea behind Tengai. “It typically takes about seven seconds for someone to make a first impression and about five to 15 minutes for a recruiter to make a decision. We want to challenge that.” Tengai asks strictly professional questions, always maintaining the same tone, and treating all candidates equally, removing all bias.

So this recruitment robot is all about business. And recruiters are pretty impressed with their robotic colleague. Petra Elisson, who works in healthcare recruitment, participated in the trial and can confirm just how valuable Tengai is. “I think it is a really good help while screening – if you have a big recruitment process with a lot of candidates – having someone, a robot, with no emotions, no feelings.  At first I really, really felt it was a robot, but when going more deeply into the interview I totally forgot that she’s not human.” If humans are the ones who feed AI with data and AI-powered systems learn from humans there is, however, still a chance that these systems inherit some of our bias as well. For now, Tengai is still a student, learning the craft from different recruiters “so it doesn’t pick up the specific behaviour of one recruiter,” emphasises the startup’s chief scientist, Gabriel Skantze. “Before we completely rely on that, we have to make sure that there is no bias in our data.”

Facial recognition helps HR departments keep a close eye on employees

Not everyone agrees that facial recognition has a place in the office and many don’t like when someone (or something) is breathing down their neck. For larger companies or organisations it is, however, difficult to keep track of who regularly shows up late for work or who has been ‘buddy punching’ – clocking in for other people. This kind of ‘time theft’ can actually end up costing businesses 1.5 to 5 per cent of their gross payroll, which amounts to hundreds of billions annually vanishing into thin air. For a company of ten people, this loss could amount to some $6500 before payroll taxes, which is not exactly pocket money. That’s where facial recognition tech could help – without being intrusive. 

One solution comes from MiHCM, a digitalised HR software solution provider in  Indonesia. Simple yet ingenious, their MiHCM Mobile” works independent of the MiHCM HR platform, “so companies can integrate the mobile facial recognition feature for check in and check out with their existing HR system”. Their system works far more efficiently than dated timesheets, and tracking attendance can be conducted safely for both managers and employees. “We are continuously innovating and updating our products to deliver the best employee experience for all our customers,” explains Harsha Purasinghe, founder and CEO of MiHCM. “As businesses around the world implement safety practices to combat COVID-19, facial recognition technology will be imperative to ensure employee safety while accurately capturing workforce attendance. By eliminating the need to physically contact the attendance capturing devices, we hope that MiHCM Mobile App will help businesses immensely during this period.” And when it comes to assessing productivity levels, their HR Bot for Microsoft Teams helps HR specialists comprehend productivity levels and provides employees with digital experiences.

Knowing when someone shows up in the office and how diligent workers are is simple when all the work is done. Tracking remote workers, however, is a challenge, especially if you don’t want to appear intrusive. PwC, for instance, has been heavily criticised for developing “a facial recognition tool that logs when employees are absent from their computer screens while they work from home”. The CIPD’s (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) head of research and thought leadership Ed Houghton underlines that employees subjected to high levels of monitoring and surveillance might end up suffering from stress and anxiety. According to PwC, the tool was devised so highly-regulated institutions could meet their compliance obligations, while workers would be monitored for security purposes. “Crucially it is designed to support those adhering to the regulations while remote working, in the least intrusive, pragmatic way,” states PwC, noting that they had “recommended to interested parties that the voluntary consent of traders wanting to work from home is essential.”

Cutting-edge tech shapes the future of HR

Without so much as a warning, the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, causing immense damage. Millions of lives and jobs were lost and even the strongest companies are struggling to stay afloat. A forward-thinking business that had already revamped their HR departments in the pre-COVID period managed to switch their business model in time and go fully remote. This only goes to show that to survive a crisis, businesses need to think outside the box, explore which cutting-edge technologies could advance their business, and be ready to experiment. Now more than ever, cutting-edge technologies are proving their worth, and not in the least in human resources management. Some of these tools ensure we’re as industrious at home as we are in the office, while others, such as intelligent robots, can even help us conduct bias-free job interviews. HR departments have officially gone digital, and we’re excited to see which state-of-the-art solutions will eventually replace outdated practices.

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