Out of all the businesses we have met, large and small, techie or not, UK-based or international, one constant remain: the HR department has a lot of their plate.
They don't just have a lot, they have a lot of super important stuff on their plate. Think about it.
Hiring, onboarding employees, payroll, benefits, leave requests, grievances. These are just some of the tasks the HR department has to handle every day.
It is no surprise, then, that most of our meetings with the C-suite of large businesses revolve around lifting some of the burden off HR's shoulders and drop it all on a super smart AI solution.
In this article, I want to go over how chatbots are starting to power automation in HR. Why is it happening? What can be automated? What are the advantages of automating some HR tasks?
We will cover it all below.
Why automating HR?
Some may find automating the human resources sort of counter-intuitive. Out of everyone in a business, are they not supposed to be the most... you know, human?
Yet, automation in this department makes a whole lot of sense.
As we have seen earlier, they handle some of the most important tasks in the company (payroll, recruitment, etc.). On top of these tasks, though, they also want to spend a lot of their time talking to employees -- real people, in real life, through real conversations.
Arguably, being there for the employees at any time is the most important HR task there is.
Automating the tasks that are 'automatable' now makes a lot of sense. Any repetitive task a robot can take over is more time freed up for the HR reps to do what they do best: be humans.
HR chatbots are taking over
We've covered why automation is a good thing. I don't think you needed much convincing on this, to be honest.
But a chatbot? Why are chatbots suddenly the answer to all HR problems?
Quite simply because self-serve HR platforms just don't do the trick. We have taken the time to talk to many HR reps working in businesses of all sizes and the topic surfaced every single time: self-serve HR platforms don't work.
Employees tend to try to browse the humongous platform to find the only tidbit of information relevant to them, try to use the search function, then give up and pick up the phone.
Thanks to its chat interface, the chatbot allows the employees to just ask their questions instead of browsing hundreds of pages worth of legal documents. The simplicity of having a phone conversation with a knowledgeable HR human rep is now transferred onto a robot that can handle it 24/7.
That is the power of an HR chatbot.
What can be automated?
Just kidding. Of course, automating certain tasks make more sense. In a recent article, I shared three ideas that could inspire you.
In a general sense, though, chatbots can automate anything your HR department does on repeat.
Here's an easy exercise: ask your HR reps to write down a note every time they copy/paste a single piece of information more than twice in a week. Where there is copy pasting, there is possible automation.
Have a whole bunch of policy documents no one ever reads but always ask questions about? That's your first target. Aim for the low hanging fruits ('How many days can I take after giving birth?'), then expand with more complex policies.
Once the static database of information has been automated, you can potentially move on to personal files. Instead of the generic 'how many days can I take after giving birth?', which would be the same number of days for everyone, you could allow employees to ask about their own personal solution. As an example, one could ask how many holidays they have left.
That requires logging into the personal files, retrieving the information on this specific individual, and feeding back the up-to-date information. Our AI HR solutions make this possible.
What are the advantages of deploying an HR chatbot?
I believe there are three main advantages of deploying an HR chatbot. Let's go through them one by one along with some insights from the work we've done.
A chatbot to unclog the HR helpline
Like I mentioned in a recent article, HR helplines are inundated with calls and emails from employees. Employees don't actively try to make their lives hell, but the continuous flow of mundane questions ('how many holidays do I have available this year?', 'who do I talk to about getting a raise?', 'what are my benefits?') truly take a toll on the entire department.
In fact, we found the HR department of most mid-size companies is, on average, three days behind on answering emails from employees.
A chatbot to take on these simple requests helps unclog the line.
A chatbot to monitor the company's morale
The automated robots we've built for some of the biggest companies help them keep track of the moral of their humans (i.e. employees).
Think about it. Each conversation that goes through these chatbots are stored. This is invaluable data for the HR departments.
How many people complained this month?
What sort of language did employees use to talk about their salary this month?
All these conversations provide incredible insights.
A chatbot to centralise the docs
Let's face it: most companies have documents spread out everywhere. In fact, when you talk to employees who tend to quickly pick up the phone to HR instead of reading the docs themselves, they often say they do it precisely because the docs are so spread out -- they can't find anything.
An HR chatbot helps centralise the documents. It is the one place to find everything you are looking for.
PS: most of our customers end up improving their HR bot to include other departments. The chatbot, then, becomes the central place for pretty much everything. Very cool stuff.
A chatbot to claim back your time
We speak with many HR reps. The geeks we are could not resist to gather some data on their biggest pain points. One of them is time.
Turns out most HR reps spend between 30 and 50% of their time replying to these 'mundane' questions, questions that employees could find the answer to from the employee handbook.
A chatbot to handle these queries is essentially giving them their time back. Plain and simple.
There are many more advantages to automating HR with a finely tuned chatbot. If any of these sparked an interest for your company, make sure you talk to us.