Can artificial intelligence replace emotional intelligence?


guest column:Emmanuel Zvada

IT is clear that the coronavirus pandemic has changed how human resources (HR) personnel think about the use of technology. It is an undeniable fact that the traditional business function is being replaced with artificial intelligence.

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the defining business opportunities for HR leaders today though the fear is if artificial intelligence (AI) is coming to displace all jobs.

If organisations wish to remain competitive in today’s global economy, they must look at ways to incorporate conversational AI for HR transactions in their decision-making process and other practices.

What is artificial intelligence?

AI refers to technology used to do a task that requires some level of intelligence to accomplish. In other words, they are tools trained to do what a human can do. AI is different from ordinary softwares because it has high-speed computation, a huge amount of quality data and advanced algorithms.

AI technologies offer significant opportunities to improve HR functions, such as self-service transactions, recruiting and talent acquisition, payroll, reporting, access policies and procedures.

HR executives have faith that merging AI with their administration functions will benefit and improve the overall employee experience.

AI is reinventing HR in a way not seen before by automating the repetitive task of hiring, onboarding, learning, and development, allowing HR teams to focus more on creative and strategic work. AI is being used in HR to automate repetitive, low-value tasks, thus increasing the focus on more strategic work.

Many fear that the rise of AI will lead to machines and robots replacing human workers and view this progression in technology as a threat rather than a tool to better ourselves.

Let me deal with all the fears and resistance of AI by enlightening all HR practitioners that they are not being replaced, but HR processes, systems and practices are just being reinvented.

Why AI
Adopting a workplace AI leads to more automatic processing of tasks that a company works through each day. It is crucial to note that the beauty of AI in the workplace is that with its aid, the amount of work that can be done in a day or two by employees, can be done in a matter of hours.

This means productivity and efficiency is enhanced. Using AI in the workplace is also easier than many think. AI in the workplace allows a company and its employees to reach maximum efficiency levels, leaving more time for projects and networking.

Substitute manual processes with automation
AI automates processes eliminating repetitive, manual processes with automation. Think about how much time is wasted on repetitive processes that could be performed with automation.

By automating many of the physical and redundant processes performed by your workforce, you can allocate more time, resources and brainpower to larger endeavours like sales strategy and customer satisfaction.

Saves time
A chatbot is a service powered by pre-programmed rules that you interact with through a chat interface.

Chatbots have actually been around for years, but they have had a recent renaissance with the rise of AI.

These easy-to-use tools are incredibly useful in the workplace since they allow for instant communication, ergo faster decision-making.

AI chatbots become smarter over time and give better answers to frequently asked questions, freeing up time for management to focus on more strategic tasks.

These virtual robots are an effective form of bridging communication gaps between employees and management and make internal information easily accessible.

AI improves productivity
The main objective of an organisation is to earn maximum profit by utilising minimum manpower.

Through technical improvements and automation software, multiple tasks in the office are achieved effortlessly and the work of the employees become much simpler.

The advancement of technology works as an important tool, but at the same time, increases the complexity at the workplace. Not only does AI increase productivity, it also improves overall quality.

With any job, human-error is always a factor, whereas AI software is less likely to malfunction.

It also enables deeper personalisation by understanding what customers want over time, resulting in better quality products and services.

Reduces human bias
Humans usually have a bias in most choices or decisions they make. Even when striving for inclusiveness, HR professionals may subconsciously lean towards a particular candidate, for example in recruitment.

Now, with AI, algorithms can be designed to help employers identify and remove these biases.

That potentially translates to better hiring communication, attracting a more diverse group of candidates.

Those same algorithms can also identify candidates who may have been screened out due to human bias.

Is AI going to invade our human capabilities?

It’s easy to say and conclude that AI could somehow replace humans in the near future — largely due to conventional wisdom.

But if you think that way, then you don’t have enough knowledge of how computers work.

The automation of tasks through AI technology allows for the freeing of HR professionals to focus on uniquely human abilities such as critical thinking, creativity, and empathy. While they are involved with the more human tasks, technology, in the meantime, can handle the more ordinary tasks.

AI cannot replace empathy
Even if the array of technologies can offer brilliant solutions, it is difficult for them to mimic empathy. Why?

Because at the core of empathy, there is the process of building trust, listening to the other person, paying attention to their needs, expressing the feeling of compassion and responding in a manner that the other person knows they were understood.

AI will not replace emotional intelligence
Those that want to stay relevant in their professions will need to focus on skills and capabilities that artificial intelligence has trouble replicating.

AI now has the capability to not only gather, analyse, and interpret data, but also to develop an action plan to implement a solution.

What can humans do that machines cannot? The answer is simple, understanding, motivating, and interacting with humans and this is where the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) comes in.

Leaders who have the ability to empathise, inspire, and develop meaningful relationships with their people will begin to differentiate themselves in a constantly evolving and uncertain world.

Will the future tech actually displace humans and their jobs? That is a NO in block letters because as more and more AI is entering the world, more and more emotional intelligence must follow suit in leadership.

Emmanuel Zvada is an award-winning Most Fabulous Global HR Practitioner 2020, HR disrupter and trusted coach. For comments, inbox or call +263771467441