Understanding the Role of AI in HR Departments

ai in hr

2023 saw businesses emerge from the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to shift their focus to the future: artificial intelligence. According to a recent Pipefy survey of business leaders, 49% of directors agree that generative AI can deliver a competitive advantage for their business, 53% of directors also see generative AI as a path to greater operational efficiency, and 52% are optimistic that AI will help them contain costs. 

HR departments provide employees with services involving very personal human issues like work life and health, so it may not be a business segment that comes to mind when considering the best uses of AI technology. The uptick in productivity it brings to HR teams and improved HR experiences employees report quickly persuade business leaders to investigate further, however.

Key benefits of AI in HR

Increased productivity and improved experiences, as we’ve already mentioned, are at the top of the list of benefits businesses look for when implementing AI tools for their HR services. That list also includes the potential for significant cost savings. Let’s examine the key ways AI technology functions can contribute marked improvements to the HR space.

Higher productivity and efficiency

One of the biggest complaints from HR analysts and their teams is that there simply isn’t enough time to perform necessary tasks, adequately address and resolve each employee issue, and implement and uphold company policies. Fortunately, these are the types of problems AI was developed to solve. 

Employees can take common issues like PTO and sick requests directly to AI-powered chatbots. They simply tell the chatbot, “I need to take time off,” and instantly receive a hyperlink to the appropriate portal or app. Chatbots function as virtual assistants to relieve HR teams of these repetitive tasks and many more like them. 

Issues resolved via chatbot require no human interaction; HR representatives thus obtain what can add up to hours per day for value-added work like meaningful conversations with employees and more effective onboarding sessions. 

52.5% of business leaders surveyed expressed a belief that applying AI to process automation allows employees to better use their work time for increased efficiency.

Increased employee satisfaction

Workers worldwide are fairly accustomed to wait times when they need HR guidance. Even large companies are known to place very few people on HR teams, which can leave employees waiting indefinitely for answers feeling insignificant in the eyes of their employer. 

No more. The instantaneous, thorough service employees receive from AI-powered chatbots is ushering in a new era for HR. Chatbots not only answer frequently asked questions, but they can also reveal the statuses of employees’ pending requests and escalate issues of high complexity to the appropriate channels.   

Additional cost savings

AI technology’s extraordinary ability to rapidly analyze data can be leveraged for HR cost savings. Many businesses looking for top talent make it a standard practice to hire third-party recruiters to find candidates for open positions. 

Others opt to expand their existing HR teams, handing the task to several dedicated people. AI software scans and analyzes resumes quickly to find preset keywords, word combinations, and other data sets indicating a great match. 

The same use case applies when businesses find themselves in a position to scale. Rather than hire HR professionals to hire more employees, an AI tool’s quick document analysis performs the mind-numbing work of scanning every resume, leaving HR team members to hold face-to-face interviews and personally assess each candidate.

Drawbacks of AI in HR

For all of its advances, AI is still a relatively new technology that will continue to evolve. Its biggest weakness at present is that it can only yield data from a preset repository. If the data within that repository is incomplete or false, the results the AI tool provides will also be. 

Other drawbacks to consider as you select and implement an AI tool for your HR services include:


AI is susceptible to and is known to reflect the same biases, however unintentional, of the humans who build data repositories. If all population segments are not represented in the data, for example, AI tools “learn” to leave out those same demographics. 

In an HR context, biases that affect hiring decisions result in discrimination, whether those decisions were made by AI software or humans. In either scenario, the business will be held responsible for the repercussions of discriminatory practices.

Resistance to change

There is often a reluctance among employees to adopt new types of technology as part of their daily work. Few people look forward to training for a new system while simultaneously performing their normal tasks. Fears play a big part in resistance to change, as well: many are afraid they won’t learn the new system. Some are afraid new software will replace them completely.

Employees may have even more questions when an AI tool is introduced as an HR service. HR holds large amounts of personal information about a business’s workforce, and employees may worry about the safety of their data.

To allay these fears, assure employees that the new software will make their work lives easier, provide as many specific details as possible and answer all questions. There will probably be detailed instructions to all employees for securing company data, so take the time to outline the security measures your business will be taking to protect their private information from leaks and attacks, as well. 

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How AI is used in HR

Few HR tasks or services exist that can’t be improved upon by AI technology. 

Let’s examine the many ways the aforementioned data analytics abilities and virtual assistant chatbot functions enhance HR experiences for employees and reduce or eliminate manual, repetitive tasks for HR professionals.

Recruitment and talent acquisition

Before open positions are ever considered, the fast, powerful data analysis of AI technology can be applied to a business’ talent requirements, weighing each team’s current staff against future needs to find gaps even managers aren’t aware of.   

It’s also possible to program AI to generate lists of recommended technical skills required for each position, based directly on the gaps it discovered, saving busy HR analysts many hours of work compiling job descriptions for job boards.

Finally, as we pointed out in the cost savings section, AI is a recruiting game-changer. An almost unlimited amount of resumes can be entered into an AI system to be scanned for skills, education, and previous experience. 

That data can be retrieved in an easily interpreted format in real-time by simply running a report. Rather than tasking HR professionals with days of poring over resumes and making notes, give them an AI tool to bring candidates to them.

Employee onboarding

AI software is powerful enough to remove the paperwork side of onboarding from the plate of HR teams entirely. A candidate’s offer acceptance can be set to trigger several automated actions, including:

  • An email containing contracts for the new hire to sign,
  • A message to payroll with all necessary information to rotate the new hire into the pay cycle, and 
  • Opening an IT request to set up the new employee’s mail accounts, software, and equipment.

Managers can use AI-powered chatbots to track their new hires’ status in the onboarding process, and new hires get more time with HR representatives, who can now conduct a full orientation, set training goals, and thoroughly answer all questions.

Employee engagement

Businesses seeking to retain top talent must investigate who leaves the organization, and why. AI technology is a valuable tool in helping HR analysts better understand these circumstances. 

AI’s high-powered data analytics track attrition rates, departure numbers by team and management, reasons given for each departure (low salary, bad management, lack of benefits, etc.), and much more. Only then can a business overhaul policies, address conflicts, and offer new training opportunities to show its employees how much they are valued.

While it may sound strange to learn that businesses give employees access to AI-based tools for boosted engagement, the truth is that AI-powered chatbots are extremely effective in this effort, providing employees with:

  • Rapid, accurate answers to frequently asked questions,
  • 24/7 availability,
  • Instant updates on status requests,
  • Anonymous surveys as a means to express feelings about their work life, and
  • The fast escalation of complex issues to the right individual.

Performance management

Thoughts of performance reviews are never ones that invoke cheer. AI software can increase the effectiveness of reviews, however, and help transform performance review cycles into opportunities for creating stronger working relationships and more positive outcomes.

The power of AI software assists managers, reviewers, and employees by providing real-time, data-driven performance assessments. Not only does this ensure total accuracy, but it illuminates key competencies, areas for improvement, and potential goals with little input or action from management. The use of hard data also reduces the risks of biases – both general and personal — in the evaluation process. 

AI technology saves all stakeholders time in evaluations by providing a user-friendly interface and customized questions designed to be answered in short, simple sentences rather than labored over. Managers can use AI-powered chatbot prompts for constructive language suggestions, strengthening communication. 

Diversity and inclusion

As we’ve previously mentioned, there are widespread concerns about AI’s tendency to inherit the biases of its programmers. The good news is that these can be corrected by feeding biased and discriminatory language into the algorithm for tagging existing job postings and policies that may be exclusionary.

Once companies have made a concerted effort to overcome bias in their existing practices, AI data analytics track each manager’s hiring decisions, subjecting them to AI algorithms programmed to seek patterns and report on its findings. 

Beyond hiring, AI software’s powerful data analytics are leveraged by many businesses to track promotion numbers, pay rates (and any associated gaps), and representation in positions of leadership. 

Employee benefits and wellness

Company benefits can be incredibly confusing for employees to elect, understand, and sometimes even access. Some questions and circumstances are even beyond the help of HR teams, who direct employees to providers. 

AI-powered chatbots are invaluable as self-service virtual assistants for employees navigating benefits. From definitions of unclear terms to specific information about medical coverage, they’re available 24/7 with answers. One unscheduled hospital visit can raise urgent questions like: 

  • How much sick time have I accrued? 
  • What is my copayment for emergency room visits?
  • Is this doctor in-network?
  • What is my company’s short-term disability policy?

 Chatbots can provide accurate answers instantly.

AI data analysis can impact employee benefits in a couple of ways. By tracking the benefits employees are not using, HR professionals can seek out benefits they will take advantage of. Tracking user demographics is a source of valuable information when shaping meaningful HR policies. An employee majority of working parents, for example, would use childcare discounts far more frequently than retirement plans for part-time employees.

Compliance and risk management

HR teams constantly face the challenge of navigating compliance with changing local, state, and federal labor laws. We’ve discussed AI’s ability to help and hinder a business’ adherence to hiring regulations, but AI technology affects other aspects of regulation compliance, as well.

AI tools are invaluable in the fight against cyber threats. Their ability to track data 24/7 and quick scanning for anomalies and patterns can stop attacks in real time while maintaining normal, uninterrupted operations. For businesses with large amounts of customers and associated data, this is critical.

Until fairly recently, businesses’ ability to scan and use unstructured data was minimal. AI’s machine learning and deep learning facets have changed that; data from sources like videos, chats, and emails can now be scanned and assessed for harmful variants. This security measure alone should be enough to make any business consider adding an AI tool to its tech stack.

The future of generative AI in HR

AI software evolves (via both new developments and its “learnings”) on almost a daily basis, and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. We have a few predictions about how those changes will manifest themselves in the HR space.

Personalization and productivity

Upskilling is a prominent topic of discussion among HR leaders, in part because of the administrative duties AI has assumed. Ironically, AI technology will soon have the flexibility to teach the specific skills each employee needs for growth within the organization. The end result of this mass training is expected to be a sharp uptick in productivity.

Predictive analytics

Natural language processing (NLP) is a facet of AI technology that converts human language into data. When an AI tool “reads” this large volume of data from HR sources like past performance reviews, survey results, and reports, it has solid sources to draw from to make effective predictions about what employees want from managers, benefits, and their work life in general. What’s more, they can make recommendations to HR teams based on these predictions. 

More time for value-adding work

Experts predict that, for HR, the future holds a sharp focus adjustment back to employees as AI and automation take over manual tasks like sending dozens of emails or reading and analyzing hundreds of resumes to find one job candidate. HR teams, managers, and employees will take the time for real conversations and effective solutions.  

Pipefy’s role in the AI and HR digital transformation

Pipefy’s  no-code business process automation (BPA) platform combines the ease and efficiency of no-code automation with the power of AI. Pipefy AI establishes a cohesive HR space for your organization. 

Gain insights to make informed decisions about the benefits your employees need while providing them with fast, accurate help when they need it most.

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