5 advantages and disadvantages of using AI in HR

Many HR departments are likely already using AI. However, HR leaders should learn about some AI disadvantages before continuing or expanding their department's use of the tech.

As AI technologies continue to evolve at a rapid pace, HR leaders may want to begin using or increase their department's use of AI to take advantage of some of its potential benefits, like reducing user error and saving time. However, HR leaders should be aware of some of AI's disadvantages before incorporating it into their department's processes.

While AI use isn't a new concept in HR, machine learning and generative AI have brought it to the front of the cultural conversation. Generative AI can, for example, help HR employees answer employee questions. But HR leaders should consider problems like bias in AI, as these problems can lead to major consequences.

Here are some key points to consider.

The pros of using AI in HR

Some of the benefits of using AI in HR involve HR professionals using it to help them with their work and AI removing the possibility of human error.

1. AI can save time

AI can potentially offer significant time savings for HR departments by eliminating routine tasks.

Julia LammJulia Lamm

For example, generative AI can assist with tasks such as fielding routine employee inquiries, said Julia Lamm, workforce transformation partner at PwC, an international professional services firm headquartered in London. A generative AI engine can answer questions about vacation allocation or the process involved when an individual is applying for a leave of absence. HR employees could also potentially use generative AI to create the internal announcements they regularly distribute throughout their organization's communications channels.

AI can also potentially help with more knowledge-intensive projects, such as training content development.

One of Lamm's clients used a generative AI tool to develop a production script for a training video about ethics and compliance.

"It was a really solid first draft that they said they might have spent a couple of weeks working on [otherwise]," she said.

2. AI can reduce errors

HR employees may make mistakes when entering data. Using AI can help solve that problem.

Alexander KriebitzAlexander Kriebitz

Factors that compromise how humans perform their jobs, such as fatigue, don't affect AI, said Alexander Kriebitz, researcher at the Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence at the Technical University of Munich in Germany.

"For those tasks that can be replicated [and] that are very standardized, AI appears to be better than human beings," Kriebitz said.

The cons of using AI in HR

HR leaders should be aware of some of the drawbacks of using AI in HR as well. Using AI without knowing about potential consequences can lead to employee distrust and organizational legal risk.

1. AI can be biased

AI bias during the hiring process is one of the biggest drawbacks of using AI in HR. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced this past May that employers using AI hiring tools are liable for potential discriminatory hiring practices.

Paul StarkmanPaul Starkman

HR leaders must ensure they're adopting products that don't expose their organizations to risk, said Paul Starkman, employment attorney with Clark Hill PLC, a law firm located in Detroit.

"They're going to be responsible for their vendors' decisions and choices, [as well as for] the products that they choose to use in their organization," he said.

HR leaders should ask certain questions during the software purchasing process to ensure they're aware of any potential bias.

Company leaders should develop ethical procurement standards for vetting vendors, including those selling AI-driven technology, Kriebitz said. These standards would require vendors to explain how their AI models work in detail. HR leaders should also test AI technology first when deploying it.

"After the test, try to understand -- with your own data, not data provided by the external party -- how the system functions and whether there have been cases of discrimination," Kriebitz said.

2. Employees don't trust AI accuracy

While AI may be capable of responding to routine employee inquiries, employees may not be confident that they're receiving accurate information.

Lamm's clients say their HR employees' work has not been reduced by chatbots because employees still follow up with HR to confirm the information.

"I don't think the trust is really there yet," Lamm said.

3. Employees and job candidates distrust AI use

Companies must clearly communicate about how they're using AI so their employees -- and, potentially, job candidates -- feel comfortable with organizational operations.

Companies must share the fact that they're using AI, its company uses and the oversight from humans, Starkman said.

"If people think that it's all Big Brother and that we're being managed by machines versus people, that's going to make the employment situation much more adversarial," Starkman said.

Transparency is the key.

"[If the AI use isn't transparent, then] it's going to cause more problems than it might be worth," Starkman said.

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