Artificial Intelligence, News, Technology

Managing People Through AI (Part I of II)

Abhinav Raj

Abhinav Raj, Writer

Artificial intelligence (AI) is making its foray into people management, one step at a time. Here’s how organisations can leverage the potential of machine learning to monitor and analyse talent.

In the midst of the Information Age, everybody is constantly generating data—from businesses to intermediaries, to end consumers. 

Much of businesses’ understanding of consumer behaviours is owed to the digital footprint the latter leave behind while crawling the internet. As we scroll our social networks, window-shop on Amazon, search for a keyword on Google—we are constantly exhibiting patterns of behaviour that allow a small window into our minds to businesses. 

In the emerging economy, data is indeed the new oil. With over 49% of companies utilising data analytics “much more” to drive their businesses since 2020, the increasing reliance on data to make evidence-based decisions is evident. 

In the data-driven business paradigm, most of our knowledge is extrapolated from the data that is available to us—incorporated via a variety of sources. The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as machine learning and its subset, deep learning, has shown us that it is possible to not only process, utilize and gain meaningful insight from data faster, but also to leverage it to make forecasts and predictions for pre-emptive action. 

With the immense potential of modern artificial intelligence algorithms to analyse large amounts of data and return meaningful insight into patterns, trends, phenomena and behaviours, AI is rapidly making its foray into complementing diversified business functions, such as sales, finance, research and development and more recently, people management

Artificial Intelligence in People Management 

(Image: Canva)

In the emergent ‘people first’ organisational culture, ‘command and control’ managerial styles are actively being replaced in pursuit of a model that takes a more holistic approach to people management—leading to the genesis of a new business paradigm that prioritizes the facets of inclusion, wellbeing and engagement. 

Through the wealth of data small-medium enterprises and large corporations generate every day, the leeway for the potential application of people analytics is ginormous. 

What remains unbeknownst to most businesses, however, is that the world of analytics is changing. Conventional methods of data analysis are backwards-looking—implying that meaningful insight can only be derived only ex post facto—however, advanced analytics enabled by modern artificial intelligence algorithms have allowed us to make predictions and prescribe actions in anticipation before an event has occurred. Hence, AI, given enough data, can enable us to not only comprehensively evaluate why something occurred, but also what is going to happen. 

Research published by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) provides a descriptive account of the ways AI is influencing people management. 

AI in Reward, Recognition and Performance Management 

Depersonalised, generalised managerial styles are monuments to a bygone organisational era. Through the deployment of artificial intelligence in people analytics, workforce data can be meaningfully analysed at a scale never witnessed before—yielding insight about performance, engagement and motivation. 

The diversified nature of the workforce in the 21st Century beckons a tailored management style. As we embrace diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, we acknowledge that different employees boast of different skills, face unique challenges, and have different learning needs. 

Through specialised “smart AI coaching” systems, employers can identify and determine unique strengths and weaknesses of employees’ performance through data obtained from a variety of sources. Employees can gain insights into their performance through smart nudges facilitated by AI-enabled systems and improve their performance, whereas the managers can utilise the said insights to devise a more personalised approach to employee management to ascertain optimal workforce performance. This can be made possible by a tailored deployment of rewards, incentives, and L&D initiatives. 

AI in Employee Retention 

While we are on the precipice of the era of the Great Resignation, the case for deploying AI to employee retention is stronger than ever—and it’s already being done. 

Artificially intelligent chatbots have been extensively deployed in the e-commerce, banking, healthcare and hospitality industries to provide quick, cheap and round-the-clock customer service, however, companies are now using their potential to help reduce attrition. 

American information technology giant Genpact has invested in its artificially intelligent chatbot, Amber, to improve employee retention through timely managerial intervention. 

Amber works in improving retention by analysing communication patterns that suggest an employee may be inclined towards quitting the company. The employees that signal stronger likelihoods of leaving are retained through managerial actions that help their motivation and engagement. 

“Amber was especially crucial during the pandemic, when the company shifted to more remote work,” observes Sanjay Srivastava. 

“Employees who do not engage in Amber chats leave at a rate of two times more than those that do,” noted the Chief Digital Officer of the firm.

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