Could AI be damaging your recruitment and retention rates?

Human element in hiring process is crucial to what should be a two-way process, says academic

Could AI be damaging your recruitment and retention rates?

The results of a recent survey showed 53% of those questioned consider themselves very likely to leave their employer by the end of 2024.

Half of the 1,000 employees asked by said they are actively job searching and another 28% reported they are passively doing so.

“GenZers are more likely than Millennials to say they are likely to move on by the end of 2024,” the survey said.

HRs would do well to reflect on their organisation’s hiring strategy in an attempt to improve retention, says Paulette Brazzale, a lecturer in AUT’s Business School’s Management Dept.

AI in recruitment could damage employer branding

“A significant factor in retaining staff lies in the recruitment process itself,” she says.

She notes that the rising use of AI in recruitment could actually be detrimental to employer brand and potentially cause a backlash from those who still value the human touch. “Dehumanisation doesn’t work in the recruitment and attraction process,” she says.

Brazzale, who has a background in organisational psychology and HRM, urges employers to adopt a “back-to-basics approach” to retain that personal touch in the hiring process.

“Technology is fantastic for reducing costs and the speed of turnaround, but in a process that involves bringing a person in to the organisation, its use comes with risks and HR should remember that.  

Expert agrees AI does have role in recruitment

“Employers should think about what it could do to their employer brand. What is it going to say about your organisation that the recruitment system’s been depersonalised when we’re also wanting to be more authentic, and people skills are still one of the most valuable and important aspects in the majority of jobs.”

Brazzale agrees there is a role for AI in HR to assist at some level in the process, though she sees this largely as being at the front of the system where technology can help filter large amounts of applications.

“When you start to narrow the funnel down though, making sure you’ve still got humanising touches in there is so important so that people are actually interacting with a human being that represents your organisation.”

Brazzale points to the trend in the U.S. where use of technology has taken off in HR with interactive AI and AI analysis of recorded video interviews. It’s a trend she feels is likely to grow in Aotearoa.

Generation matters with AI in recruitment

“When you think back to the real basic principles around hiring and attracting great people and getting them to stay within your organisation, it really involves a human component because as much as you’re interviewing them as potential employees, they’re also interviewing you as an organisation. It’s a two-way process.”

The human touch could especially be valuable in recruiting and retaining those currently entering the workforce from education, she says.

“I keep hearing that the generation coming into the workforce now are placing great emphasis on the importance of knowing they can maintain wellbeing through their employment.

“As part of that, being treated as an individual - as a unique person - is important, so having that enduring human contact is vital. From that sense, even though they’re likely to be technology natives, technological forms of recruitment wouldn’t convey to them that an organisation is that way inclined.”

Preparing candidates for AI use in recruitment

For those organisations that do opt to use technology in the recruitment process, it’s important to be open with candidates about the steps involved and clear about how the technology works.

“In these cases employers should provide information to help prepare people for the stages and make them feel as comfortable as they possibly can with it,” she says.

Tread with caution, she advises, and before bringing in new technology, it’s important to think about the risks around bias.

“If you’re moving to a technology solution, you need to ask how has that been validated? How do you know it’s not going to somehow skew the results in an unintended way?

“Then often the effort to validate could take more time than actually interviewing the person using structured face-to-face interviewing techniques.”

Employee experience impacts retention

Another vital aspect that impacts retention, she says, is setting out clear expectations about the role right from the start. “It’s important to do a really good job analysis and be transparent about the requirements of a role, even in the advertising and marketing stages.”

Also in terms of retaining staff, it’s crucial the employee experience lives up to expectations, she says. “If throughout the recruitment process you’re communicating who you are as an organisation and what the employee value proposition is throughout the recruitment process, make sure that you follow through on all those things promised.”

To ensure this is taking place effectively, it’s important to have conversations and regular check-ins ins with new employees as they go through the onboarding process throughout that whole first year, says Brazzalle

“Ideally it would be face-to-face conversations, but it could also be surveys conducted by HR to constantly monitor how things are actually going and check whether the organisation’s living up to expectations.”

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