Using AI to boost engagement in the pre-onboarding process
The HR function, like many other functions in the past, have continued to deploy technologies with embedded AI in automating low value and repeatable administrative tasks in segments like recruitment, onboarding, training, retention etc. However today with application of smarter technologies the HR function can solve more complex business challenges like boosting performance, development, and employee engagement. Gallup’s surveys with employees around the world find that 85% are either not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. Creating a workplace culture that focuses on employee needs by keeping them engaged to drive a high-performance culture is something that many organizations strive for. However, most of them overlook the fact that engagement begins even before they join the organization
A 2019 survey in the US by a global staffing firm, Robert Half shows that around 28% of candidates had backed out of an offer after accepting it. The statistics for India, especially in the IT/ITES segments are much higher. One of the primary reasons for post offer backouts is the lack of engagement among the new hires with the organization that has offered them.
A feasible solution to this problem would be a pre-onboarding process which uses technology to engage new hires from offering acceptance to their first day on the job. The HR function can leverage analytics and AI to better the employee experience during the pre-onboarding phase. With the shift to voice enabled mobile apps becoming a norm, a voicebot is an intelligent way of communication that can be easily integrated into various devices.
A voicebot is an artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language understanding (NLU) based voice channel for communication, that works by converting audio to text format. The older bots were simple programs with a limited database of questions and answers, while the current ones enhanced with the acumen of new AI technologies like Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) can handle complex questions easily. NLP helps in understanding a request and structuring an appropriate response, while ML helps the bots in learning and enhancing their database with every interaction.
Apart from assisting in mundane tasks of onboarding like, providing checklist of documents, filling out forms, providing updates on their joining formalities etc., a voicebot can also help in handling queries on policies and benefits and handling the entire pre-onboarding engagement effectively.
To scale up your engagement with the new hires, here are some of the areas that you can work on, which would be pertinent to their professional interests.
- The senior management/clients talking about your organization’s partnership, the employee’s contribution and how that would help influence the life of people.
- Communication with reference of your organization’s work in media/public forums, social media handles events etc. This would also serve as a method of employer branding.
- Insights on the account that the hires may work for, the work that they would do, their contributions to the society, media presence, links to their social media handles etc. (information which is accessible in the public domain)
- Reinforcement of your organization’s employee value proposition (EVP)
- Various aspects of the hire’s career growth and development. For e.g. a candidate may pose a query on his career path/learning path based on the role/technology that he is being hired for.
- Insights into the available technical/engagement forums & activities, company values & culture.
- Conduct office tours (virtual), send invites for hackathons, tech/social events etc.
All of the above is possible, provided, the information needed to manage the desired queries/ requests are available in your database, information and/or knowledge base, and the same is available in a structured form using application programming interfaces (APIs). You could also start with what is available, and build as you progress, to increase the efficacy of the solution.
A balanced use of AI and analytics tempered with human interventions can indisputably advance a superior employee experience during the pre-onboarding phase and would pave the way for creating a sense of belonging and creating an engaging environment when the employee joins. As the Gallup report states “Businesses must recognize that an organization’s vitality and capacity for organic growth is inextricably tied to the everyday experiences of its employees”