Human Resources Turning to Artificial Intelligence to Find Out What You’re Thinking


Human resources departments are turning to information gleaned from artificial intelligence to make policy decisions in the workplace, such as who to hire or fire, and to gauge how an employee feels about their boss. Companies have used technology to evaluate employee work performance and productivity for years but are now using software to analyze differences in what an employee says from how they actually feel.


SPS Companies Inc., administers a confidential survey to the steel processor’s 600 employees each year, from warehouse employees to top management. The survey asks questions such as whether the employee feels micromanaged and whether they are getting the opportunities they need to grow in their profession.  They are also asked about how they see themselves as a valued employee of the company.


SPS used the artificial intelligence tool Xander for the first time to help human resources evaluate if their employees are optimistic, confused or angry about their jobs, to help the company better address employee concerns to management. The software analyzes survey answers by assigning attitudes or opinions to employees based on certain language used to answer open-ended questions.  SPS executives were able to see how well they scored on such things as their temperament and composure when under stress, and whether their employees felt they were fair and honest.


Research that tracks an employee’s emotions are key to understanding how they are motivated to do their job, and whether it will be done successfully, according to experts at Daoine Centric LLC. This research may also give insight into why an employee leaves his or her job.


The use of artificial intelligence tools by employers world-wide exceeds 40 percent according to a study from Deloitte. Government regulators are struggling to keep up with its use as more human resource departments use artificial intelligence to make decisions about hiring, firing and compensation for employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has concerns about how the use of AI may lead to discrimination of certain employees and is in the process of developing official guidelines to deal with potential new barriers for employment for protected classes of employees and minorities. In the meantime, employment law expert Garry Mathiason recommends that companies still engage in person to person evaluation of work performance by human resources and provide full disclosure of how any AI data collected from a survey will be used.


SOURCE: Wall Street Journal, “What’s on Your Mind? Bosses Are Using Artificial Intelligence to Find Out,” by Imani Moise, March 28, 2018

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