The goal of AI is not to replace HR professional but streamline their process: Sandeep Magavi

The goal of AI is not to replace HR professional but streamline their process: Sandeep Magavi

Augmenting the human approach with technology maximises our ability to hire the right talent and assimilate new hires while creating an engaging experience across the journey map.


Do you believe that technology has come forth as a welcome relief for recruiters and HR organisations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic given the fact that physical interviews have become cumbersome? Do you believe that technology enabling us to do away with physical recruitment is a step in the right direction?


Technology empowers us all, and today’s disruptive technologies have truly impacted the way we live our day-to-day lives and how various industries operate, and recruitment is no exception. Technology has changed the hiring process and the associated candidate experience. While recruitment fundamentals have not changed, technologies have simply created innovative channels that have changed certain dynamics.


In the last few years, we have seen a higher degree of technology interventions in the entire recruitment life cycle, while physical interviews may have continued to be widely be leveraged across organisations for the last mile - primarily because of our siloed version towards needing F2F. However, the pandemic accelerated that part of the process as well – because we all had to adapt and adopt. This is absolutely in the right direction and the way ahead across all business processes, and not just recruitment alone. In the age of digital IDs, social signatures, and cognitive technologies – the focus is on leveraging technology to factor in all variables upfront, making physical interviews redundant for most roles.


A survey by Gartner in July 2020 has revealed that more than 50 percent of hiring staff feel that the onboarding process within their organisation is effective in integrating new hires with the culture of the company. How do you believe organisations can make effective use of technology to ensure that the onboarding process is effective in integrating the new hires with the organisational culture?


Augmenting the human approach with technology maximises our ability to create a highly engaging employee experience that helps assimilate new employees and retain existing talent more effectively. The way organisations view employees has transitioned over a period. While this was a work-in-progress, the pandemic only helped accelerate our ability to see beyond the horizon.


Across industries, all of us have shifted from an employee-centred value proposition to a human-centred value proposition that treats employees as people, not workers. Why? Because we are attempting to humanise our employees’ value proposition. Quoting a reference example - Gartner’s April 2020 study indicates that 74% of new hires considered their peers to be the most helpful source of support during onboarding. Though this percentage may have reduced in the last 18 months because we have adapted, this also gives us insights into human connections every new joiner seeks in any new environment.


Leveraging cognitive technologies and AI into our onboarding processes, apart from collaboration tools significantly enhances the overall experience for a new hire through the onboarding journey map. Inferring internal sentiment and social network analysis apart from performance analytics gives us deeper insights into employee behaviour and what they are thinking and feeling, which helps HR to intervene and take data-driven timely decisions. Incorporating HR Chatbots offer a personalised and yet streamlined onboarding process, while internal collaboration and expertise location tools give new employees an internal social network beyond their teams that helps them get oriented.


It has been observed that the virtual environment is impacting managers since it is highly important that they coach the new recruits on organisational culture, policies and the elements of certain roles in the company. Do you believe such a thing to be a hindrance for the fresh recruits to make their mark in the job?


We know little about the impact of the virtual environment on managerial behaviour and have limited empirical data to make a definitive assertion on this. I personally believe it is very difficult for us to make a judgement around the impact especially since this is also about individual biases, behaviours, and personalities. Incidentally, this is the focus of a new study by the California Management Review (June 2021), where rather than simply asking people for their opinions about what’s changed, the authors provided systematic data collected before and during the pandemic, to help identify areas where significant differences in behaviour could be observed.


The evidence suggested managers were as motivated and committed to doing a good job as ever, but the virtual working environment appeared to have a harmful effect on their effectiveness. They turned inward and became task-focused at the expense of relationship building. I agree with this PoV because we may have all become more ‘blinkered’ in our overall outlook of how we work with each other, primarily because it is still the “new norm”. 18 months is too little for us to change our outlook towards how we have always perceived work, workplace relationships, and communication channels.


Whether these impact fresh recruits and hinder their growth depends on a multitude of factors – including the roles they play, org culture, team bonding that is propagated by the manager, collaborations channels that are leveraged by the org, and above all – individual personalities. I strongly believe that the individual propensity of an employee to unlearn/ relearn, collaborate, communicate, and innovate are key success factors.


How is technology used in the process of recruitment and onboarding in your organisation and what are the tools that are being used for the said processes? Basis your experience, how would you guide HR Managers while tech-driven Processes for Recruitment?


As an organisation we continue focussing on leveraging Design Thinking principles across all our internal and client engagements, because it helps us stay aligned and keep people at the centre of all our business processes and engagements. As a part of this approach, an established empathy map helps depict what any new hire may be doing, feeling and thinking at different moments within the broader onboarding landscape, which enables all onboarding stakeholders to empathise with new hires and intervene as needed. Our methodology is established on underlying cognitive tools and technology that leverage IBM Watson and applied across different facets of any employee experience, including the onboarding journey – effectively enabling our human proposition. Likewise, we continue leveraging cognitive tools to infer data on talent, potential and growth for every potential employee; because every employee is a potential CEO in a disruptive economy!


My recommendation to every Recruitment manager would be - leverage technology to help you make data-driven hiring decisions, decrease the time to hire and ease processes and bureaucracy for a newbie, while humanising your engagement helps reinvents the employee value proposition for higher impact.


In a research carried out by the Aberdeen Group, it has been realised that companies that make use of gamification see a significant improvement in employee engagement and happiness. Do you that believe that gamification alone is sufficient for greater engagement or if organisations need to make use of a blend of tools?


While gamification is one of the most important tools to drive employee engagement, what continues to be equally important if not more - is what the primary value drivers of the organisation are because that is the factor linked directly to its value proposition associated with its employees. An organisational culture built on such a value proposition automatically breeds entrepreneurial leadership and a growth mindset that are the most significant factors for disruptive economies, while getting ready for a gig workforce.


There has been increased reliance by companies on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning based smart tools for the purpose of recruitment and onboarding. Do you believe that they have been particularly effective in garnering the best talent for an organisation?


As recruitment has shifted almost entirely online during the pandemic, more companies are incorporating artificial intelligence to assist with screening and hiring. The pandemic has merely amped up a process that HR departments had already begun to embrace. Interestingly, a 2019 study by Oracle and Future Workplace revealed that half of 8000 HR professionals interviewed said they used some aspect of AI in their work.


 AI aspects of recruitment are simply a way to make the hiring process more efficient for the HR professional. The goal of AI is not to replace the HR professional but streamline their process, and has absolutely been effective for most organizations because it has–


Helped them improve the quality and objectivity of recruitment since AI has an unbiased criterion for a candidate


Attracted the right candidates and less irrelevant applications


Helped ensure no candidate is accidentally overlooked by relying on pre-determined keywords alone


Helped automate manual work in the recruitment process gives recruiters time to focus on what matters the most – PEOPLE!


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