Artificial intelligence (AI): the hype is real.
But is the impact of AI real?
Let’s take a look. AI is defined as:
“…the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages”
In essence, AI is the intelligence developed in machines, as opposed to the natural intelligence which is developed in humans. And if the hype is to be believed, AI is here to make your life easier: less complex, less burdensome with decision making, less stressful.
Artificial intelligence now plays a major role in how your home works: from your sound system, your toaster, your security, to even your lounge room air temp.
It’s seemingly ubiquitous.
Yes, there are many day-to-day AI applications we’re (almost) unwittingly embracing thanks to companies like Google and Apple. And they’re pretty impressive applications, on the whole.
But what about when it comes to your workforce?
Have you taken the time to think about how artificial intelligence could help you as a senior HR or C-Suite professional in the strategic planning and management of your people?
Have you considered how AI could become a standard feature in your workforce processes and your workplace, like it is in your home?
If you haven’t, and even if you have, you might want need to read on.
Our research has unearthed 4 key opportunities AI can offer your business, in the engagement and management of your workforce, and in some instances, the day-to-day operations of your workplace. There are many more applications of AI, but first, get your thinking around these solutions – your workforce, leadership team and bottom line all have the potential to make a positive hit.
AI: Your People Will Work Alongside Machines
Yes, there will be some roles that will be replaced by machines, but the robots aren’t taking over. Well, not yet, probably not ever.
Rather, you’ll find workplaces will be integrating machines to work alongside people in the delivery of output. According to McKinsey, the entire workflow and workspace will potentially be redesigned, so that workers can attain the greatest benefit from the AI applications in their work environment.
Safe human-machine interactions will become commonplace in warehouse facilities, and other labour-intensive business functions. Administrative and repetitive tasks will also be better-managed thanks to AI. Critically, there will be a requirement for some worker categories to reskill. It’s the reskilling that will provide longevity for workers, in AI-enabled organisations. When it comes to AI, ‘Embrace not replace’ is a sound approach.
AI: The Ultimate in Time-Saving Chatbots
Sure, chatbots have been around for ages. But with the evolution of AI, chatbots have become a far more potent time-saving, process-efficiency-driving technology play.
With the value of time, chatbots are now smarter by virtue of knowledge and experience, and its application. Responses from chatbots are therefore more meaningful, and the efficiency of communications with customers and workers has improved.
Chatbots can act as a scalable means for bridging the gap between workers and management, by making information more easily available to people. So your workers tend to feel more ‘in the loop’.
Chatbots are also being used to survey workers, in a real-time, issue-specific format. This is an incredible development for the efficient testing of the workforce pulse, worker engagement, and general workplace sentiment, a process that previously would have taken weeks to complete. So in this application, potential issues can be identified and addressed before they become major problems for the organisation. Boom!
AI: Working to Eliminate Workplace Bullying
Yep, you read that right.
Data driven, predictive tools are being developed to help managers foresee negative behaviours such as micro-aggression, sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination. Insights from these artificial intelligence tools enable poor behaviours to be addressed before they escalate. HR and business leaders can see which people and teams are at greatest risk in an organisation, and work to cut the rot before it sets in.
The potential impact of this technology is stunning. Employees leave organisations for fewer reasons than those I’ve listed above – bullying, harassment et al – so by being able to mitigate and eliminate this behaviour and turn a situation around, workers stay happy. And employers retain talent. Win-win.
And it’s happening right now. BDO Reward has signed an exclusive agreement with Israeli based Cassiopeia, an AI tech firm, to offer organisations in Australia insights into people behaviours, so they can foster a healthier and more inclusive workplace.
AI: Enhancing Workforce Wellbeing
Stress is one of the most prolific curses of modern living. And work environment stress is a leading trigger. Here are a few examples we’ve uncovered on how artificial intelligence is helping to reduce workplace stress. – amazing, all of them:
- Some companies use AI to reduce work overload, ie. repetitive tasks in factories or call centres
- AI is playing a role in helping companies expand into new territories and markets, providing employees with broader work opportunities, whilst reducing work insecurity. In this iteration, AI is actually adding to employment
- AI data is being utilised in factories and manufacturing – using sensors and predictive maintenance – so those workplace accidents and human injuries are vastly reduced
- AI can tell management about worker dissatisfaction, For example, by using the application Slack, managers can see the style and nature of emojis used and ascertain worker unhappiness, stress or disengagement
- Company issued wearables like BioBase help organisations to track people’s mental health, stress levels and ability to perform via the provision of personalised data. Different categories of workers can have different stressors, but these wearables can provide a variety of elements for individuals to optimise wellbeing
It seems the catastrophising of AI and its impact in the workplace is not necessarily unfounded, more misplaced.
There’s no doubt about AI’s impact on the workforce, as a major modern-day disruptor. And as I’ve shown you here, there are many (and many more) applications of AI that absolutely benefit both worker and employer. The pervasive negative press about AI causing global unemployment and economic crises is, to put it simply – ridiculous. By 2021, IDC predicts global spending on AI will exceed USD 57.6 Billion, which equates to YoY growth of over 50%.
So it’s fair to say that AI is here to stay in the workplace.
As for the humans in your workforce, a strategic approach to workflow integration with machines, fine-tuning your processes and reskilling your people will be the key to success in the era of AI. In doing so, your business will be in pole position to expand, innovate, scale and of course, succeed.
What’s your view of AI?
Are you already seeing its application in your organisation?
Would you like to share your experiences with us and/or our readers? If so, please send me an email here, and let’s talk.