The rapid emergence of automated technologies is revolutionizing how companies of all types operate, particularly in the realm of human resources — and that transformation is only beginning.
From automated resume screeners to robot interviewers to smarter onboarding and training processes, HR departments are leading the way in the adoption of artificial intelligence technologies in many organizations.
Employee benefits, which is already undergoing a digital transformation, remains in the early stages of its automation and AI overhaul. But make no mistake, that transformation is inevitable over the next decade. Let’s take a look at how AI may impact benefits and HR.
AI is Already Transforming HR
As automation and AI are integrated into more areas of the daily workplace, worker and organizational attitudes about the technologies have begun to shift toward the positive. A recent study by global professional services firm Genpact found that senior executives, the employee base and consumers all displayed more favorable attitudes toward automated technologies than they reported the previous year.
More than 50 percent of consumers say AI is making their lives better, according to the report, up from just a third in 2017. Workers are more likely to say AI brings career opportunities (36 percent) than believe it threatens their jobs (28 percent).
Driven by both a growing need and an explosion of AI-driven technologies hitting the marketplace in recent years, HR has led the way in the adoption of these tools. In Littler's 2018 Annual Employer Survey, half of organizations said they use AI and advanced data analytics for recruiting and hiring. HR strategy and employee management also ranked high among ways companies said they were leveraging AI or data analytics.
Benefits enrollment is ready for its own AI revolution, but companies must start addressing obstacles to adoption, such as lack of training in new technologies and lingering doubts about the workforce risks they pose.
Chatbots for Employee Benefits Are Coming
Digital transformation is already impacting the benefits landscape in profound ways, but AI technologies have been slower to work their way into the space. Enrollment chatbots and improved decision support are two likely candidates for AI disruption.
When it comes to decision support, AI may be able to learn what medical plan employees should enroll in based on their utilization year after year and provide more effective recommendations that dramatically reduce the decision-making process. Machine-learning will create opportunities for more specific benefits recommendations than current algorithms can provide.
Aside from decision support, AI will also start to help educate employees on their benefit plans via “smart” chatbot someday rather than a live person in a benefits call center. According to a report by TechTarget, cloud-based collaboration software provider LogMeIn is already experimenting with a chatbot as its initial point of contact benefits enrollment queries.
The chatbot — named “Benny” — answered 75 percent of employee questions, kicking more complex queries to a human team member in HR. This freed up HR to deal with more complex faster clip than before.
This is an early example of what we believe will be a much larger tech-driven transformation in the benefits space.