NHRD Bangalore chapter hosted its annual HR Showcase on Dec 1 and 2 this year. Among all the HR Best practices showcased at the event, the one that attracted most attention was the ChatBot showcased by one of the contestants. The contesting Organization was so invested in their ChatBot that they had done nothing else to spruce up their stall space. A monitor and a laptop connected to the ChatBot on the cloud was all they had – talk about being minimalistic! (A sight that left me recounting the sleepless nights I had put in to pull the stall together for Employee Experts for the same event.) The do’s and dont’s of stall making will make a totally different blog, let me return my focus to ChatBots.
Well, ChatBots are not new. They are commonplace on most business websites now. For HR, it is a natural evolution. HR is a function that is more about conversations and less about processes. Applying a policy or a process needs one to take the whole person and situation into consideration. In fact, SAP introduced Conversational HR more than a year ago in Sep 2016, leveraging a strategic partnership between SuccessFactors and Slack.
There was a palpable excitement in the air as people gathered to try asking questions to the handy HR companion. An Operations Support person, Employee Relations agent and Policy referral – all rolled into one, the Bot responded equally enthusiastically, for the most part, save a couple of questions.
Go beyond the Cool Technology and the outright excitement of using something new, the reason behind a ChatBots’s popularity becomes apparent.
To start with, a ChatBots provides one Go-To place for everyone to ask, refer and discuss things related to People policies. Having to go between multiple departments or teams to get information is one of the major deterrents for employees to manage work in any organization. ChatBots can essentially solve that as long as it connects to all policy documents and data related to People operations. It is Singular.
Second, ChatBots do not take lunch breaks. A ChatBot is always on, always available, making it easy for employees to reach out to anybody convenient and get the first level of support they need.
Given that an organization deploying ChatBots would make it a one-stop-shop for all People processes, it opens up a huge potential for integrating the context of the employee interacting with the Bot to provide a more meaningful solution. This requires the HR Teams to work with the technical team to encode the algorithms and logic required to leverage the power of context but it is totally worth the time.
Finally, with easy access to information and a responsive Technology, employees automatically more engaged. Proof in point was the number of visitors this particular Bot drew to the stall, just to get a slice of experience.
To be realistic, ChatBot is still an alien concept for a country like India where workplaces are relationship driven. In addition, while a ChatBots may look like it is taking some work away, in reality, deploying a ChatBots comes with continuous review and maintenance of underlying data to ensure that content is tagged correctly and questions can be matched to them accurately. This involves a huge chunk of work for HR folks.
But the power lies in making Employees self-sufficient when it comes to HR queries.
But you can lose some of that coolness if you put a ChatBots on top of manual, disparate, legacy systems. Augment your Bot with a simple, singular, integrated, collaborative People system like ESP from Employee Experts and you have a true winner!