The big buzzword of the year is AI, and that might leave you wondering how it might affect benefits communication. Well, it already has.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines. The term dates back to the 1950s but has perhaps recently gained attention in our day-to-day lives with the boom of Amazon’s Alexa. Alexa-enabled devices grew tremendously in popularity within the past year, Amazon reported tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices were sold worldwide this past holiday season.
From playing music and keeping your to-do list, to controlling your lights and tracking your nutrition — Alexa-enabled devices simplify your life. According to Forbes contributor, Jeanne Meister, “As intelligent assistants become more widely used in our personal lives, we will expect to see similar usage in the workplace.”
Just as AI simplifies our lives at home, we expect similar capabilities to be implemented at work. In 2016, millennials surpassed the baby-boom generation as the largest living generation in the United States and are now the largest generation in the workforce. Given the powerful influence that comes with that, it’s more important than ever for companies to listen and respond to millennials’ desired work environments.
Millennials have been raised in technology. It’s ingrained in their lives, so they expect companies to be cutting-edge. and respond with immediacy to advancements in workplace technology. If companies don’t embrace new technology and tools, they could be at a disadvantage to hiring and retaining employees.
Companies shouldn’t be too quick to label millennials as entitled and demanding, because it isn’t just millennials who hold these expectations. For example, according to Nielsen, 70 percent of consumers will be grocery shopping online by 2024. Why? The convenient, at-your-fingertips, easily-accessible benefits provided through new technologies. Now, more than half of retailers in the United States offer same-day delivery, compared to just 16 percent who offered the service in 2016. Immediacy and personalization are becoming the standard.
Apply it to Human Resources
AI has become a household name. Its growing popularity is observed in our homes and at work — even in human resources. The idea isn’t to use the technology to completely replace the workforce, but rather to assist.
A great example of how the benefits of AI have been applied at work is the application of a chatbot. A chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users—and they are growing in popularity in HR. A report from CB Insights states that the bulk of some $2 billion companies are investing in HR technologies is going toward emerging technologies like AI.
Whether it’s helping employees enroll in benefits, complete training, or get answers to frequently asked questions, HR chatbots can assist employees in every aspect at work. Chatbots Magazine lists ways HR chatbots can help:
- Recruitment. Screen prospective employees.
- On-boarding. Aid in making it a self-serve process.
- FAQs. Answer questions about vacation days, payroll and benefits.
- Training. Require interactive participation from employees.
- Benefits Enrollment. Assist in an often confusing and frustrating process.
- Reviews. Instant exchange of feedback.
Chatbots are also beneficial to employees because they’re available 24/7, accessible via mobile and easily integrated into company intranets.
Although AI might never completely replace the human aspect that is essential to human resources, technology is always changing, and we’ll likely continue to see it grow in prominence within HR. Embracing technology can help HR manager free up some of their time — making processes easier and quicker.