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How HR Specialists Can Use AI to Support their Remote Workforce During Lockdowns

In this special guest feature, Ricardo Michel Reyes, CTO and co-founder at Erudit A.I., believes that with work-from-home presenting unprecedented difficulties for the HR profession, AI can help lift the burden in a number of ways. Ricardo a programmer and businessman with over six years of experience in the AI field. Based in Madrid, he developed a theory that unifies psychology, linguistics and artificial intelligence called Semantic Personality Analysis – along with his partner Alejandro Martínez. This theory is reflected in their company: Erudit AI -based in Miami – which is dedicated to improving the mental health, engagement and productivity of the workforce of medium and large companies internationally.

The transition to working from home this past year has been more difficult for some professions than others. Without being in the office, a number of challenges arise for human resources (HR) specialists, who still need to keep their employees happy and engaged in their remote settings.

The sheer stress of the pandemic has profoundly affected workers, as 78% of employees say that 2020 has been the most stressful year of their lives, per a recent study by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence. This puts added responsibility on an HR staff to not only give their workforce the tools they need to succeed, but to also monitor and improve employee well-being even while they’re not in the same physical space.

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) can give these HR specialists a crucial tool in supporting their remote workforce – one that is often preferred by employees. In that same Oracle study, 82% of workers said AI can address mental health issues better than humans and 68% say that they’d prefer speaking with a robot about their stress and anxiety.

With work-from-home presenting unprecedented difficulties for the HR profession, AI can help lift the burden in the following ways:

Monitoring Employee Mental Well-being and Stress Levels

Without employees in the office on a regular basis, it’s that much harder for HR professionals to gauge their mental well-being in order to provide them support. While the CDC has warned of a considerable spike in mental health and suicidal thoughts during the pandemic, it’s become clear that this issue must be addressed by HR departments across the country.

Through AI, an HR staff can effectively monitor the mental well-being of their remote workforce via analysis of everyday communications like email and chat, as well as other devices. For example, the professional services network PwC began pilot programs in which volunteers wear fitness trackers that use machine learning to monitor their overall health and stress levels during lockdowns. The technology aims to stave off employee burnout by tracking when employees may seem overstressed or overworked.

Other managers have pointed out how useful it can be for HR departments to do sentiment analysis through company email, video conferencing and messenger accounts. Innovative AI-powered tools can analyze anonymous data from employee communications to measure attitudes and burnout levels in real time.

Improving Employee Retention

On top of rising stress levels, another significant trend that HR pros have had to keep an eye on is the increasing worry that their best talent will leave for other jobs. A September survey of business executives by consultancy group Robert Half found that a staggering 88% of senior managers have been worried about losing top talent amid quarantine. Some companies have responded by putting more emphasis on employee retention programs despite needed budget cuts elsewhere.

AI can improve employee retention through machine learning tools that can predict when workers are looking to move on or if they’re dissatisfied with the company. Voice analytics technology, for example, can help detect tones among staff to gather data regarding interest in their job and overall satisfaction levels. AI platforms like this that use predictive analysis can help HR professionals by directly telling them where the company needs to improve to keep employees happy and which workers may need extra attention going forward.

Boosting Employee Performance Amid Lockdowns

Another area that has proved tricky for HR teams is to ensure that employees aren’t slacking off while working from home.

For HR professionals trying to aid the company’s overall mission of staying productive and efficient, there are a number of AI solutions that they can turn to. AI can help fill a lot of holes for routine work, allowing workers to focus their time on other tasks. Setting up chatbots to answer common questions on the client-side for example can free up your workforce and maximize production.

A Gartner survey of HR managers from earlier this year showed that the majority (56%) of those whose companies had already adopted AI did so to automate repetitive or manual tasks. There are even benefits to using AI internally within their own departments, as HR teams can create voice searches for standard employee questions like company policies, benefits packages, or vacations to make sure your own HR staff isn’t bogged down by simple inquiries from employees.

While the COVID-19 outbreak has delivered a whole new set of challenges for HR professionals, there are a number of AI-powered solutions they can enlist to improve the wellness, engagement and performance of their employees. In our new work-from-home reality, HR teams and tech innovators are coming together to find sustainable solutions through AI that ensure they’re helping their companies not miss a beat during this pandemic.

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