Introducing HR’s new, not so human, resource: Chatbots

Technology's impact on the changing workforce

​The new, next-generation workforce has arrived. And it's changing the way we work and collaborate—with both humans and bots alike. Some human resources (HR) organizations may view innovations in automation and cognitive technologies as daunting, but in reality, they're intended to make our working lives easier. The objective is simple: to enable technology to carry out much of an employee's day-to-day administrative tasks, allowing them to focus on more strategic, value-added work.

HR has the opportunity to lead this new collaborative future workplace

​Today’s rapidly changing workplace is bringing both challenges and opportunities. HR’s role is essential in helping to define the organization of the future, from the work that people will do, to the shape of the workforce. Given this, HR can play a key role in redefining HR delivery through chatbots and other cognitive technologies.

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Who is this new workmate?

Chatbots vary by level of sophistication, with two primary types in the market today: simple chatbots and intelligent chatbots. Simple bots provide quick answers to common questions by "looking" for key words or phrases and providing static responses and related resources. An intelligent bot, on the other hand, has access to more data and can provide dynamic responses and perform any rules-based or standard activities.

Chatbots are ever-evolving, and the latest to emerge is a virtual assistant. These "assistants" have access to knowledge and can function as a self-service, first-call resolution. Essentially, the more evolved the bot, the more sophisticated the tasks that can be automated.

As consumers, we've grown increasingly familiar with—even attached to—voice-enabled technologies like the ones many of us have in our homes. What if we applied that thinking to the workplace? That's the emerging trend: Employees will likely expect the same technologies in the workplace that they enjoy in their personal lives.

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Why "hire chatbots" in HR

Organizations across sectors are increasingly looking to this type of technology to automate tasks and offer an improved customer experience. Some retail companies are increasingly relying on chatbots to deflect customers' frequently asked questions, thereby reducing the amount of manual support required.

For HR organizations, the potential benefits are plenty. Chatbots can improve efficiency and productivity—for both customers and employees. Intelligent chatbots can quickly address issues for an organization's stakeholders; for customers, this can foster satisfaction and loyalty. And for employees, especially those who had previously spent time doing tasks that chatbots now can perform, it frees them to do other, often more strategic and innovative tasks. This, in turn, can improve morale and drive what Deloitte calls the Simply Irresistible Organization™, a model that focuses on five key strategies to improve employee engagement: meaningful work, supportive management, a positive work environment, growth opportunities, and trust in leadership.

When coupled with an intuitive self-service gateway for employees, like Deloitte's ConnectMe™—a digital workplace product that can help the workforce access what they need, when and where they need it—chatbots and virtual assistants can have a meaningful, positive impact on the employee experience. Not only would your workforce have access to all of their HR resources through ConnectMe's personalized dashboard, they could also rely on an intelligent bot to help them complete requests and transactions.

Today's employees are tech-savvy, demanding, and often willing to leave employers if their needs are not being met. By adopting chatbot technology early on, HR organizations can create a workplace where people want to work, thereby potentially attracting and better retaining talent. Download the pdf to read more about how the rise in interest for chatbots is also coinciding with a few trends in the marketplace. 

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"Onboarding" chatbots in HR

Leveraging chatbot technology can help solidify HR's position as leaders in the organization, something that historically has not been possible due to the task-based nature of traditional HR work. Chatbots can reduce the time spent answering questions and can streamline the interview process by recommending candidates or scheduling interviews. Another potential use of an intelligent virtual assistant is recommending a candidate for a position based on screening results compared with previous hires.

For an employee, chatbot technologies can consolidate and simplify a variety of HR tasks, such as open enrollment, PTO management, scheduling, time entry, and feedback processes. For recruits and new hires, chatbots can address organizational questions, automate interview and background-check processes, and make onboarding easy to understand and access. These automated, immediate workflows do not require human intervention, allowing HR representatives to refocus their efforts on strategic and relationship-building initiatives like coaching, leadership development, and HR transformation projects.

Bots can also be deployed to add real, tangible value to the enterprise—enhancing employee service through 24/7 support, screening and communicating with new talent, and scaling HR services, for example.

Download the pdf to read a case study. 

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Ultimately, chatbot technologies can be good for the bottom line. They can help reduce labor and training costs and create capacity for organizations to refocus and reskill valuable resources to areas of the business that are more impactful to growth.

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