AI in HR practice: hands on advice from a people director 

10 minute watch

Annabel Joseph, director of people at Applaud, delves into the real-world applications and transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in human resources. Her insights reveal how AI can significantly enhance HR operations, addressing common challenges and optimising strategic initiatives within organisations



McKinsey research suggests that deploying generative AI in HR functions can boost productivity by up to 30%. This efficiency gain primarily stems from AI’s ability to automate repetitive tasks, allowing HR teams to pivot their focus towards strategic roles. As Annabel Joseph, director of people at employee experience software firm Applaud says: “That's something we have been fighting for in HR for a long time without compromising the quality of our service delivery.”

In this HR Leaders interview Joseph talks about how AI assistants are reducing HR caseloads by about 50%, illustrating its capacity to manage and refine vast amounts of unstructured data and previous policy versions, enabling the crafting of precise content instantly. Yet, depsite the clear advantages, adoption rates among HR professionals remain low, with only 10% leveraging these technologies, according to research from Applaud. 

This slow uptake is attributed to various concerns, including data privacy and accuracy as well as job losses. "The fear is mainly around the data input into the available AI tools and the concern about data breaches on platforms such as ChatGPT as well as the accuracy of the responses from the AI assistants, which then makes HR professionals feel more comfortable to sticking to what they know," Joseph notes, highlighting the primary barriers to AI adoption in the field.

However, she argues that these tools are designed to augment human capabilities rather than replace them, suggesting that education and proper policy development are key to overcoming these hurdles. Sharing her approach to easing AI integration concerns at Applaud she says: " We certainly don't have a ban on third party AI tools, and we've created a policy to provide guidelines for employees. I'm making sure that all our data is up to date and accurate because I'm conscious that, once we press the button, this is what the employees will have access to without us and HR gatekeeping the information.”

To encourage a smooth transition to AI-enabled HR processes, Joseph offered a three-step approach for HR leaders:

  1. Conduct in-depth research: Engage directly with AI tools and technologies to understand their practical applications and limitations.
  2. Implement AI gradually: Start with non-sensitive tasks such as grammar checking or data analysis to build familiarity and trust in AI capabilities.
  3. Develop a robust policy: Actively establish guidelines that address the use, ethics and security of AI tools within the organisation.

Watch the video to discover how Joseph approached crafting an AI policy, what she is considering as she implements an AI assistant and the personal challenges she faced when beginning her AI journey. 

About Annabel Joseph

Annabel Joseph is the director of people at Applaud. She is a member of the senior leadership team and contributes to shaping the company's direction. Joseph’s professional journey, marked by diverse sectors and international experience, has led to her role in HR technology, a true passion of hers given the relatable field. She is CIPD level 7 qualified and holds a bachelor law degree.

Published 15 May 2024
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