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OM in the News: AI and Human Resource Strategy

March 16, 2017

The growing use of AI in the workplace raises many ethical questions.

“Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way managers do their job–from those who get hired to how they are evaluated to who gets promoted,” writes The Wall Street Journal (March 13, 2017). Here are 4 examples:

Companies use AI to help them find the best candidates for jobs. Such software often spots the most promising resumes among what may be an unmanageable deluge, or it widens the net so employers can find a more diverse pool of candidates. SAP’s Resume Matcher software reads Wikipedia entries to understand job descriptions, related skills and so on. Then it correlates what it learned with resumes along with notes on whether a given applicant was shortlisted, interviewed, hired and the like.

Once managers have hired ideal candidates, AI can help keep them productive by tracking how they handle various aspects of their jobs—starting with how they use their computers all day. Veriato makes software that logs virtually everything done on a computer—web browsing, email, chat, keystrokes, document and app use—and takes periodic screenshots.

Companies can also track employees’ whereabouts in the office. Bluvision makes radio badges that track movement of people in a building, and display it in an app and send an alert if a badge wearer violates a company policy—say, when a person without proper credentials enters a sensitive area. The system can also be used to track time employees spend at their desks, in the cafeteria or in a restroom.

AI can also help managers peer into personal aspects of job performance that used to be left up to observations—for instance, attitudes toward the job. Veriato analyzes email and other messages, looking at words and phrases employees use. Then it scores those expressions for positive or negative sentiment. The system can set a sentiment baseline over time.

Classroom discussion questions:

  1. Discuss the ethical issues here.
  2. How else might AI help a company’s human resource strategy?
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