Knowledge centre

Are Australian businesses lagging when it comes to using AI to source top talent?

While the speed of innovation is increasing rapidly, Australia is lagging when it comes to our contribution to the past two decades of incredible progress. Ranked at just 22 in a global innovation report, it’s clear that Australian businesses could do more to embrace new technology and ways of thinking.

Arguably, one of the most impressive pieces of technology in recent years is the practical application of artificial intelligence (AI). From analysing speech to driving a car, we are starting to see how these technologies are translating into real-world benefits. Spending on AI systems in Asia Pacific is forecast to reach USD 5.5 billion in 2019, an increase of nearly 80% since 2018 and this is expected to increase to USD 15.06 billion by 2022.

So how will AI influence how we attract, hire and manage our workforce of the future? 

According to Oxford Economics, approximately 80% of executives in the HR industry are looking to implement technologies to improve workforce planning: these tools are viewed as a necessity, not a luxury. In talent acquisitions, AI-enabled recruitment software, like pymetrics which recommends candidates for roles based on gamified assessments and Curious Thing’s conversational AI questioning engine that can telephone interview candidates, has garnered significant attention at recent conferences and exhibitions.

Australian Universities are also working to understand the synergies and challenges of people interacting with new technologies. At the recently founded Future of Work Institute at Curtin University, researchers are actively investigating the use of AI in the recruitment process, developing text-analysis algorithms that can predict applicants’ proficiency and ‘faking’ behaviour.

Djurre Holtrop, Research Fellow at the Future of Work Institute, Curtin University said, “Based on what applicants say during a mock interview, our algorithm can predict applicants’ personality traits and faking behavior, and therefore suitability for particular roles. Although algorithm predictions are not yet as accurate as human ratings and not all applicants like a computer rating them, we are confident that this will be a real possibility in the near future.”  These applicant reactions to algorithm ratings indicate how important it is not to lose the ‘human element’ when increasing the use of technology.

So, is there an arguement that AI can humanise interactions with job seekers, customers and within organsiations? It is estimated that 30% of the activities in 60% of all occupations could be automated, meaning that most workers will operate alongside rapidly evolving machines. Automation of roles can free up time for greater creativity, strategic thinking and productivity. For example, as self-checkout machines are introduced in stores, cashiers become checkout ‘helpers’, able to answer customer questions and create a better, more efficient purchasing experience. In the talent sourcing world, the ability of AI to quickly assess and filter large numbers of applications reduces administrative burden early in the process, increasing a recruitment team’s capacity to have quality interactions with shortlisted candidates.

Del Rayson, Senior HR and Talent Partner at Harrier, believes that AI is a critical enabler, but says it must not be implemented at the expense of the human touch. She said: “Done right, implementing new technologies doesn’t have to mean loss of the ‘human touch’, it just means updating approaches to get the best out of the recruitment process for your business. You still need the support of a strong talent team and expertise to drive your strategy, ensuring you are receiving best value from any innovation.”

As part of its commitment to drive innovation, Harrier Group has established an Innovation Fund through which to support, collaborate with and mentor start-ups in the development of early stage human capital technologies. CEO and Founder Kelly Quirk said: “We are excited to partner with young businesses who we believe have the potential to optimise and transform the solutions we provide to our customers and other forward-thinking businesses. We’re helping to quantify human contributions to business success and investing in the future of the talent industry.”

With only 25% of Australian organisations identifying innovation as a core value to their business, and 50% of CEOs indicating they are not well prepared to take advantage of disruptive change and opportunity, there is still an opportunity to get ahead of the competition.

Sam Margerison, Technology and Solutions Partner at Harrier, highlights the importance for organisations to embrace innovation. He said: “The use of technology is ever increasing and to remain competitive, businesses must understand how they can maximise the benefit of emerging innovations. AI might seem like a ‘step too far’, but the reality is, many organisations are already investing in it and finding improved ways to secure the best talent.”