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Artificial intelligence and HR: keep quiet, you’re being watched

Intelligence artificielle et RH Silence, on vous flique

London’s Unleash (HR Tech) show in March last year was an incredible but disturbing reminder of the technologies that will revolutionise HR. After the wave of recruitment digitisation, the 100% digital recruitment target is not far off.

In the last few months, technology has appeared to continuously maximise employee experience.

Continuous feedback applications allow employees to give their opinion and to continuously communicate their state of happiness (!) And commitment … This data is then made available in real time to managers by means of beautifully coloured dashboards. No staff mood swing will go unnoticed, no feedback will be lost, no data will be left unused.

We all know that crossings generate the highest risk of accidents and drifts … And the temptation to cross this feedback data with that from other sources is great. Here are some examples:

  • mapping of company travel to identify the nature and effectiveness of contacts with other employees
  • email scanning and sentiment analysis to determine the state of mind of the corporate body at a given moment in time and refine the analysis of corporate interactions
  • measuring body constants and crossing with the previous indicator … (I’m sweating and my pupils are dilated = yes, I’m angry). When will automatic urine analysis be used to complete the advanced detection of deviant behaviour?
  • just as quickly, employee assessment based on more than 978 variables and real-time prediction of behaviour and effectiveness.

The list lengthens as technology develops.

Technology that releases? A lie

The promise of our liberation by technology is in fact a lie that solution publishers but also some human resource departments carefully nurture.

When they’re pushed too far, digital technology and artificial intelligence in particular chain us to immediacy and the impossibility of taking a step back to better understand and analyse.

Immediacy gives a false sense of control and those who think they control are also being controlled. The society emerging through digital technology is strangely similar to that portrayed by pessimistic futurists. Perhaps it’s better to listen to our historians, sociologists and philosophers to fully understand the nature of the issues before us. I invite you to read a very good article by Henry A. Kissinger which, I believe, gives the true measure of these issues.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try the digital HR experience. On the contrary, new technology will allow us to spend more time on what really matters in the HR function: support, advice, support, attentiveness.

But if employees feel constantly spied on, I frankly doubt that the level of commitment they express daily through continuous measurement is a reliable translation of their true commitment: to be committed will always remain the result of management that listens, that gives meaning and inspires towards a shared future.

Commitment is also about being able to do what you do best and to have development prospects. It’s also about being autonomous and having the freedom to take risks and think outside the box.

Artificial intelligence and continuous feedback attempt (risk?) replacing the essential functions of management: listening with empathy, sharing its vision with the team, inspiring.  Why not start there, developing these skills in managers rather than substituting them with impersonal and piecemeal data analysis?

How to successfully implement a 360° assessment in your company?