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Is an HR chatbot worth it?

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Can an HR chatbot give a hand to a human resource department? Or is it only a new expression of today’s maniac trend towards innovation at all costs?

HR teams do not sell anybody anything, after all, and human resource departments are supposed to communicate to humans at the human level, not through AI. So, what is the point of employing a marketed-oriented technology like a virtual assistant to manage teams?

Yet, the answer to this question is positive. An HR chatbot can be helpful in some ways that many readers do not even expect. And, naturally, there are also some disadvantages. Let us discover which they are.

Chatbots in HR: how and why they were introduced

The first HRMS (Human Resource Management Systems) appeared in the late 80ies and marked the arrival of computers in the domain of HR.

After some few years, there was the advent of the internet, the most disruptive HR revolution in history. Job recruitment shifted from local newspapers to the web, while tools like Monster were given birth to.

The new HR technologies of search and selection brought the need for the management of a huge amount of data.

The data load became even worse during the first decade of the new century with the boom of intranets, when thousands of organizations started to communicate through messages, chats, emails.

Consider that the only Monster receives about 30 CVs each minute now, and in 2018 85% of job search was made through job boards or career sites. Messaging reached over 300 billion in 2014 (they were 100 billion in 2011).

In 2020, HR chatbots took the field. Almost immediately they proved to be one of the most efficiently manage internal communication for most big organizations, as only HR bots can sort out the billion of requests, messages, calls, and other exchanges that take place at any second.

Finally, Covid has further speeded up this trend, with an increase of 30-40% of HR queries for AI chatbots because of remote working.

HR chatbot benefits

There is not only a problem of data load management: organizations have discovered that an HR chatbot can be a valid virtual assistant, as it liberates employees from repetitive tasks to focus on more important jobs.

Just to give an idea, some of the tasks that can be delegated to an HR chatbot are:

  • Booking and validating time off and holidays
  • Updating staff information
  • Finding organization information
  • Finding employees’ contact information
  • Answering simple routine questions
  • Managing onboarding process, like asking and checking the necessary documents
  • Managing timesheet reporting

Getting rid of all these menial, repetitive and boring tasks can improve the quality of life of an HR team with a consequent increase in their productivity, according to Forbes. The percentage of repetitive tasks that can be automated peaks up to 80%, with a reduction of 65% of personnel load.

The cons of HR virtual assistants

Naturally, an HR chatbot is not all sunshine and puppy dogs. Virtual assistants have their cons which can be summarized in a two-word expression: lack of empathy.

In fact, despite the efforts, it is not so easy to create bots that can empathize with humans. It is just a goal they cannot reach, at least now.

The lack of empathy of AI chatbots has a consequence: bots can handle well first-level questions, but they have problems in solving complex queries.

Deep learning and conversational AI can improve bots’ skills, of course, but it takes money and time, and without the assurance to reach the level to manage all queries.

Empathy is not the only weakness of virtual assistants. HR chatbots may be invincible with repetitive tasks, but they become losers when the task requires creativity and improvisation.

In conclusion, we must accept the fact that some qualities and skills are intrinsically human.

Using an HR chatbot as a recruiter

Using HR chatbots to recruit staff could sound bizarre or too cutting-edge. Being a recruiter is not that kind of job that requires empathy, intuition, and tact, after all?

Naturally, there is the trick. A virtual recruiter does not replace the human recruiter, but it takes care of the routine office stuff.

There are many tasks that a recruiter can delegate to an HR chatbot. The reader will find a complete picture of how recruitment chatbots work in our article on how HR bots can find the best candidates.

For now, you need to know that an HR chatbot can make your recruiting process 67% faster, and an astonishing 60% of candidates prefer bots to humans even in search and selection.

So, chatbot recruiting can be considered acceptable as any other case of successful utilization of conversational AI today.

HR chatbot case studies

There are many examples of applications of chatbots to HR management. Among the several HR chatbots, we remember:

Eva: the virtual assistant

‍Eva is the virtual assistant of PSA Peugeot Citroën! Present on the Intranet, her role is to advise the group's employees on issues related to office applications, workstations, HR issues and practical services. And Eva is (over)performing... she answers an average of 140,000 questions per month! (or more than one answer every 30 seconds!).

So, instead of picking up the phone or filling out a form, employees ask their question freely in the company's internal messaging system (Skype Business, Slack, Google Hangouts, Workplace...) and the bot will answer them instantly.

Eva significantly reduces the time spent by the HR team on administrative tasks while improving employee satisfaction! Indeed, getting a quick answer to their questions is the first source of customer satisfaction, but also... of employee satisfaction! At PSA, Eva has become essential, this lead to a significant decrease in calls to HR and helpdesk departments and a constant increase in requests to the virtual assistant.

So, what about an HR chatbot?

An HR chatbot can take care of routine tasks and become a great hr virtual assistant, on the condition that it is utilized within its technological limits and without totally replacing the human HR team.

It naturally works for conversational AI chatbots. Traditional chatbots – those without AI – are hardly helpful in HR management, as the necessity of deep learning is always implicit in handling HR departments’ tasks and duties.

However, the setup and implementation of HR chatbots are not like a magic beanstalk that grew overnight.

It is necessary to invest time and resources, especially in the beginning. At this condition, an HR chatbot can be a technology that fulfills its promises and highly rewarding.

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Written by
Marco La Rosa

Marco La Rosa is a blogger, writer, content creator, and UX designer. Very interested in new technologies, he wrote Neurocopywriting, a book about neurosciences and their applications to writing and communication‍

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