HUMAN RESOURCES departments of organisations are the first brush of an employee with their firm. The efficiency and quality of HR practitioners go a long way in determining how employees perceive their employers. With more and more companies increasingly dealing with technological onslaught like never before and firms becoming multi-generational in workforce composition, HR departments are rapidly evolving as well. Moreover, as companies experiment with Generative AI tools, HR becomes a testbed for such applications.

While the role of HR ranges from recruitment, employee engagement , compensation and benefits to retention, exits and compliance of labour laws, the primary job of hiring is where one can see significant penetration of AI.

IT and ITES firms, among the largest employers in the services sector, are deploying in-house AI tools in some of these processes. Infosys, India’s second-largest IT services firm, uses AI assistance across the board, from recruitment to employee support. “AI helps in screening of candidate profiles and dynamic mapping of panellists. Facial recognition through AI helps reduce impersonation risks. Looking at employee experience, AI Assistants help in interpreting policy documents to address queries and personalise interactions based on individual needs,” says Shaji Mathew, group head, human resource development, Infosys. The company also uses voice recognition-powered helpdesks for employees to directly connect with concerned people on queries.

At Wipro, the company is building use cases in deployment of AI and Gen AI, which can also be showcased to clients. The use of AI has seen the turnaround time for background verification of candidates reduce drastically, from 11 days to 48 hours, and the aim is to bring it to less than an hour, says Saurabh Govil, chief human resources officer, Wipro. Another use case is being built around internal opportunities that pop up for an employee based on his/her strengths once a project is complete. “As we speak we have some 50 odd use cases, with around 2.1 lakh employees using them, with 97% accuracy and adoption. It’s about bettering employee experience,” says Govil.

As Covid changed work ways, companies were forced to take the virtual route, from candidate interviews to onboarding, as work from home became a norm. However, according to industry experts, employee information was forged in many cases, and impersonation became commonplace. Such instances have reduced with AI currently playing an important role in candidate screening and fraud detection. With hybrid working models emerging as strong choices for companies, multi-city virtual collaboration is here to stay, feel experts. And hence, needless to say, HR departments have to engage more efficiently.

At Zoho, the SaaS company which has CEO Sridhar Vembu operating out of Tenkasi, a small town in Tamil Nadu, in-house developed AI stack ‘Zia’ has artificial intelligence integrated in its HR offerings such as Zoho People — its HR platform — and Zoho recruit, the talent acquisition platform. Tools and features that enhance productivity, including chatbots to help with screening applicants, interview scheduling and clarifying organisational policies are already being used, says Praval Singh, vice president, marketing and customer experience, Zoho Corp. “We have also developed an AI-based document-processing technology called IDP (Intelligent Document Processing), which allows users to extract information from various documents, facilitating quicker processing when there is a plethora of data,” he adds.

It is not just big companies that are looking to deploy AI for in-house HR functions, even large talent-acquisition firms are using AI and Gen AI tools to get the right candidate fit. AI tools help in quicker analysis of resumes, identification of right qualifications for a job, and allow recruiters to focus on quality candidates. Foundit (formerly Monster APAC & ME), a talent platform and a part of Quess Corp, uses AI to discover candidates and provide personalised results tailored to the specific needs of organisations, says CEO Sekhar Garisa. The tools also help streamline interviews through automated scheduling, which helps in saving time. “We utilise AI-driven tools by providing access to an advanced folder management system where a recruiter can sort and file your shortlists, update the hiring status and share candidate profiles in a couple of clicks,” he adds.

Once an employee’s life cycle begins in a company, the HR departments become nodal touch points for queries related to employment, grievance redressal, feedback or any other employee facilitation. For all these, Gen AI-based chatbots are seeing an increased adoption. At Flipkart, where AI/ML is integrated in every step, particularly by the HR department, the move has helped in optimising decision-making and improved operational efficiency, along with enhancing the overall employee experience, says Prajakta Kanaglekar, vice president, supply chain, tech and CX HR leader at Flipkart. “AI-driven solutions such as Gen AI have transformed feedback processes, providing concise, actionable summaries tailored to individual needs. The adoption of these tools has led to time saving during feedback reviews as well,” adds Kanaglekar. Wipro’s Gen AI chat, WiNow, assists employees in getting things done instantaneously, like asking the chatbot to fetch payslips, apply for leave, etc.

While AI certainly helps in streamlining processes, CHROs stress on the need to keep them bias free. With Gen AI thriving and developing on the data it is fed, the big challenge is to tune the technology to keep biases out. “Importantly, our emphasis lies on ethically implementing AI with well-defined guidelines to ensure compliance with standards and preservation of privacy,” says Mathew. However, AI can never replace the empathy and personal touch that human interaction brings, especially in a function like human resources. “HR teams will continue to play a critical role, while technology will become more human-centred, drive human agenda and improve the quality of work,” sums up Govil.

Follow us on Facebook, X, YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp to never miss an update from Fortune India. To buy a copy, visit Amazon.