Is there a chatbot in your future? You bet. A chatbot, which is a computer program designed to simulate a conversation with a human, especially over the internet, will transform virtually every business function from marketing to sales to customer support in the near future.
One of the areas in which you'll see a major transformation via chatbots is Human Resources. Since the chatbot is a virtual assistant that can communicate with employees through text messages, websites, applications or instant messages, chatbots are changing how HR teams operate.
HR Can Transform Their Service Delivery Model Using Chatbots
Using an automated system of communication with employees, HR teams are then freed up to focus their time on their employees’ more sophisticated needs in such areas as the development of career management plans.
HR teams have a challenging job with seemingly conflicting objectives. They need to keep employees focused and working hard while also keeping them happy and satisfied at work. HR teams are often held accountable for employee retention and churn without the ability to manage the employees directly.
HR is expected to have their finger on the pulse of a large employee base while operating with a small team. This is why chatbots can help lighten the load. HR teams find that their responsibilities are vast and the goals are challenging–they rarely have enough time and resources to do justice to their wide range of responsibilities.
Much of HR time is invested in managing routine processes and activities that chatbots could handle instead. This would allow HR staff to focus on higher priority activities. Teams have limited time left over to offer employees the individual attention they need when handling sensitive personal issues.
This is a better use of the HR team's time while the chatbots handle the more standard, simple tasks. This will improve the ability of the HR team to proactively engage with employees, to guide and mentor them through their career paths.
Chatbots can help the HR professionals by dramatically amplifying their capabilities. Chatbots can help HR teams stay on top of the substantial responsibilities and achieve the impossible goals they have.
Use Chatbots to Automate Routine HR Processes
Chatbots can automate routine processes that take a lot of the HR team's time. You can substantially automate recruiting activities such as screening candidates, scheduling interviews and managing the recruiting life cycle for candidates and hiring managers. In fact, a startup called RoboRecruiter, built on the Gupshup platform, has developed a chatbot for automating the end-to-end recruitment process, with amazing results and improvements in productivity.
Employee onboarding and orientation is another area that's ripe for automation. New employees account for a high number of queries to the HR team that you can easily automate. You can also substantially automate regular processes such as attendance tracking, goal tracking, performance review, employee surveys, and tracking paid leave balances.
A company called QuickWork has built chatbots that are automating HR and related business processes for many enterprises. Even though most companies use an HR system to automate many tasks, chatbots make existing systems more user-friendly than before, dramatically increasing employee usage and compliance.
Chatbots Help HR Teams Become Accessible to Employees
Chatbots help HR become more accessible to employees. Chatbots allow the HR team to provide instant, accurate responses to common queries. You can automatically escalate the more complex queries for human review and response. Automating the frequently asked queries frees up HR teams to personally handle the more complex queries.
This enables them to respond and intervene quickly in sensitive situations. This is especially useful during phases of change-management when businesses roll out major changes in organization or strategy. These changes lead to a large number of employee queries in a very short time that HR has to address quickly to prevent issues from festering.
The increased accessibility to HR is particularly valuable to employees in remote locations, away from headquarters, since they are deprived of the ability to have corridor conversations with their HR teams.
Chatbots enable HR teams to engage with each employee on an individual, one-on-one basis consistent with their personal situation and issues. A chatbot can maintain regular, proactive contact with each employee throughout the year to detect any issues that need escalation for human engagement.
Tools such as natural language processing and sentiment mining can help chatbots detect anger, frustration, de-motivation, exhaustion and related issues. Based on these observations, chatbots may pull in an HR professional for human engagement.
Chatbots may also proactively recommend vacation time, clubs and activities, or other resources available within or outside the organization. Chatbots may optionally help employees become physically active and healthy by recommending and tracking their daily exercise routines.
Chatbots can provide professional guidance and mentorship to each employee. Investing in the career growth of each employee is perhaps the highest ROI effort for HR teams and business organizations. Chatbots can develop customized learning and development plans for each individual. This can include both soft and hard skills that are required for professional success.
Chatbots can reinforce the culture of the organization by recommending appropriate developmental courses. Chatbots can assess employee skills and recommend courses and modules that employees can subscribe to. Chatbots can also connect employees to mentors within the organization.
Issues Related to Employee Confidentiality
Of course, there are important issues around privacy and confidentiality that an organization must address. However, HR conversations, by their very nature, tend to involve sensitive and personal information. Organizations can suitably address these issues by providing users and organizations with adequate control over their data.
Essentially, the chatbot is an always-on, highly engaged, extremely personalized companion—the perfect HR manager. HR teams that adopt chatbots will find themselves getting closer to successfully accomplishing the many impossible tasks and conflicting goals that their organizations place on them.
Beerud Sheth is the CEO and founder of Gupshup, a smart messaging platform for developers.