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Evolving roles: From HR technology to enterprise AI
Rajamma transitioned from her role as Senior Director of HR Technology to Senior Director of Architect AI at Microsoft, reflecting the evolution of the space.
AI has rapidly gained prominence, especially with emerging technologies like OpenAI’s ChatGPT — placing it at the forefront of enterprise strategies. Microsoft recognized the significance of enterprise AI and established an AI Center of Excellence to explore AI’s potential in fostering employee experience and productivity.
Why direct AI to employee experience?
There’s been a dramatic shift in the concept of employee experience (EX) in recent years, partly attributed to pandemic-driven changes. With remote work becoming more prevalent, maintaining a sense of belonging, community and engagement has become a priority for Rajamma’s team.
Recognition that engaged and satisfied employees lead to increased productivity and organizational success drives this renewed emphasis on EX.
And EX is a differentiator when it comes to employee retention. “Skilled people are, you know, not easy to come by,” Rajamma says. “Even when people talk about the economy and inflation, it’s still very hard to get good, skilled people in certain areas.”
This is where the intersection of AI and employee experience offers significant opportunities for businesses to retain top talent across the employee lifecycle.
AI integration across the employee lifecycle
Rajamma provides a comprehensive overview of the many ways AI is integrated into the employee lifecycle at Microsoft, including:
- Sourcing and attracting talent
- Offboarding and maintaining post-employment relationships
- Automating tasks
- Enhancing communication
- Providing personalized experiences
This integration of AI into the employee experience aims to streamline HR processes and improve overall employee satisfaction.
Rajamma emphasizes that AI serves as a caddy to support human decision-making rather than to replace it entirely. AI can assist in various HR tasks — from drafting performance reviews to providing recommendations — but human judgment and intuition remain critical in interpreting AI-generated insights and making strategic decisions.
Triumphs and shortcomings
Integrating AI into the HR workflow brings its share of wins and pitfalls.
The success stories involve AI simplifying tasks, enhancing efficiency, and providing valuable insights.
The potential downside arises when human judgment is overlooked. Blindly following AI outputs without critical analysis can lead to suboptimal decisions and negative consequences. It’s important to strike the right balance.
Related: Finding equilibrium with AI
Striking the right balance between AI and human intelligence
Rajamma stresses the need for a balanced approach. And here it is: AI can significantly improve processes and experiences, but human intelligence and intuition should guide the application of AI-generated insights.
And it’s coming for companies whether they’re ready or not. Rajamma cites a recent survey of about 2,000 businesses — 80% of which “shared that they will employ AI in some form or another in their HR space — AI and/or machine learning.”
As AI continues to evolve, it is not the end of human involvement but the beginning of a new era — a time when human judgment and AI collaboration can lead to remarkable enhancements in employee experience and HR practices.
Understanding and addressing AI biases
It’s vital to acknowledge biases in AI systems because they an be amplified when integrated into HR functions.
To address this issue, Rajamma suggests the following:
- Ask yourself whether AI is necessary for a particular implementation.
- Examine existing data for biases.
- Be transparent about AI’s involvement in decision-making.
And this step is crucial — continuously monitor and adjust for biases even after AI systems are in production.
Ethical considerations play a significant role here, and it’s important to take a conscious approach to AI usage, including transparency throughout the process, and watch for biased language that could lead to discriminatory outcomes.
All of this requires ongoing education and awareness.
The need for education and awareness
Organizations must remain compliant with existing regulations and stay updated as new regulations emerge.
AI is constantly evolving and it’s important to keep pace with its various applications and limitations.
As a first step, Rajamma suggests evaluating existing organizational challenges and identifying tasks where AI can enhance efficiency and decision-making. And she emphasizes that implementing AI for employee experience requires strategic thinking and introspection rather than blindly following vendor suggestions.
AI poised to transform employee experience
Overall, Rajamma envisions a future where AI transforms employee experiences for the better.
Integrating conversational AI can simplify complex tasks, allowing employees to focus on value-added activities.
As AI becomes more ubiquitous in HR and beyond, it eventually will assist with every job. While certain roles might evolve or be replaced, new opportunities will emerge as AI reshapes how work is done. Learning AI skills will become essential for individuals to thrive in this evolving landscape, so what better time to start than now?
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