• HR Intelligence

Do I need an HR chatbot?

Updated: Nov 13, 2019

Chatbots. The word is in the air and the media is full of suggestions and statements but it’s difficult to wade through all of the terminology and fantastic claims and really get to the heart of this element of artificial intelligence. I’m having conversations every day about our HR chatbot, where it can be used and how the employee experience is changing.

So what is a chatbot?

Quite simply, it’s a software program that is able to perform and understand a chat or conversation using language in voice or text format. Much is made of artificial intelligence and there is no doubt that it will change our world but a chatbot uses one very small element of AI; natural language processing.

Natural language processing focuses on providing the program with the ability to understand natural human language (input) and respond appropriately (output). Remember though, it’s just a software program.

Although they have been around since the 1960s, in recent years chatbots have entered the mainstream and are now being widely used. Bots are being deployed in a variety of business functions from sales to customer services, IT to HR. Their main use is improving and automating communications with customers both current and future and of course, employees.

What can an HR chatbot do?

Chatbots in HR are being deployed to tackle challenges across a wide range of HR activities. There is quite a large number of potential HR activities but the obvious place to start is tackling volume administration processes to find ways to free up HR time and make things easier for employees.

Employee Lifecycle - HRI

For example, recruitment sees a huge amount of administration that can be improved. The application process can be frustrating and unclear for potential candidates, sourcing candidates by the Recruitment team and scheduling interviews are all necessary tasks but can be time-consuming. Mya is a conversational AI recruitment bot. Its purpose is to streamline the hiring and recruitment process, which it does through a number of touchpoints in the process. It covers the end to end life cycle of recruitment saving many hours in the process. This allows recruiters to focus on the elements of the process where they can add value; supporting hiring managers and candidates.

Our HaRi-Bot® is an HR chatbot that provides answers to employees throughout their employment with a company on their general HR questions and queries. These questions matter to employees, but they are repetitive in nature for HR teams who are responding. It saves HR team time and puts the information into the hands of employees.

And this is just the start of the use cases.

What can an HR chatbot not do?

Chatbots can be great tools, they enable information to be provided more consistently, clearly and quickly to a large number of users regardless of how many are using at any one time. However, using any type of technology comes with a responsibility that is being highlighted for consideration more and more.

Our CEO has written a blog recently ‘You can automate but you can’t abdicate’ which covers some of this (coming out on HRDirectorblog). In essence, it details that we need to be very wary of ‘chatbot says no’ mentality or ‘chatbot covers that’. Chatbots are able to answer questions with the aim of getting answers more quickly but that doesn’t mean that they should answer every question there is. They are an enabling tool and should be used as such. Do not approach a chatbot with an ‘it can do everything I don’t want to’ mentality. Why is this? A bot has no emotion or feeling so for sensitive situations (like bullying or harassment) and therefore cannot provide important help and support using understanding and empathy that the individual may need.

The 3 questions you need to answer before you look for a chatbot.

The first question is; does the activity you are thinking of still need to be done at all? T