Expect more chatbots and voice-activated HR systems in 2020

More employees are quickly getting answers to HR-related questions by taking advantage of voice-enabled software on their mobile phones.

“This is one of the main things that HR professionals are inquiring about: how they can enable additional assistance in the workplace to help employees find answers to common HR questions,” says Emily He, senior vice president of HCM marketing at Oracle, a global technology company. “The magic in voice interface is not even the voice [feature]; it’s the fact that you don’t have to log into an [HR] system in order to get your job done.”

Workplace technology has entered a new era of intelligent automation. The common decision-tree process is being replaced by true machine learning and artificial intelligence. Besides offering voice-activated help desks to address HR questions, some companies are using virtual-reality glasses for on-the-job training or text- and voice-enabled chatbots to provide a positive candidate experience. The ultimate goal is to free HR professionals from performing mundane transactions, enabling them to focus on more human responsibilities like employee coaching.

Also see: Performance and rewards in the future of work

According to a global Oracle survey of more than 8,300 HR professionals, managers and employees, 64% said they would trust a robot more than their manager. Another 36% believe robots are better at providing unbiased information. In China and other Asian countries, those numbers are even higher, says He.

Meanwhile, He says, voice-enabled apps on cell phones are helping employees navigate HR directories to find co-worker phone numbers, email addresses, and information on to whom they report and job responsibilities. Some managers are also entering comments about an employee’s accomplishments or training needs in real time—verbally or via text—into their organization’s performance-management system.

She explains that intelligent systems like AI-powered help desks learn over time by identifying employee behavior patterns and then compile employee questions by topic. So, when someone asks a question about medical benefits, for example, the system asks users if they also want responses to common medical benefit questions asked by other workers.

Likewise, she says, many companies are enhancing the candidate experience by using text- or voice-enabled chatbots to provide interview tips and address candidate questions and expectations. But one of most novel technology approaches involves employee training. He points to one of Oracle’s hospitality clients that uses VR glasses to train new hires in housekeeping on how to clean rooms.

As workplace technology evolves in 2020, He believes it will create more opportunities for employees to focus on innovation and decrease burnout among workers performing mundane tasks. She says the work environment will become more positive and “allow all of us to be more human.”

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