HR Leads Business

Jun 6, 2019 | Ginny Engholm

5 Ways AI Can Keep Employees Engaged

Gallup has estimated that U.S. businesses lose up to $550 billion each year to a startling cause: lack of employee engagement. Disinterested employees breed high turnover rates, which often signals the deterioration of a company’s success.

On the other hand, employee retention is correlated with leadership ability, and advances in AI offer the chance to shape good leaders into great ones. “The future of AI is integrating into practices that will create a lot more value for leaders,” says Ryan Heinl, director of product management and leader of DDI’s Innovation Lab. “You're going to see a huge uptick in engagement for companies that take advantage of AI software.”

Here are five ways employers can use AI to produce better leaders and improve employee engagement.

Personalize Professional Development

AI programs can be an important component in ongoing training. These programs are responsive and occur as needed rather than on a fixed schedule, which improves their effectiveness by correlating advice and development with a specific occurrence. This creates an environment of active learning.

AI utilizes data to match employees with a coaching program most suited to their needs. “This algorithmic analysis allows AI programs to provide a lot of really high-quality insight and advice in a very short period of time,” Heinl says.

Improve Performance

AI demonstrates quality assessment by providing feedback on a consistent basis instead of just annually. Bob DelPonte, vice president and general manager of Kronos’ human capital management program, Workforce Ready, suggests taking advantage of hourly time punch data every 30-60 days. For example, clock-in data might show that employees who live further out consistently clock in a few minutes late.

“These scores are available to help employees and their managers make better decisions at the operational level within their organization,” DelPonte says. AI software is crucial in analyzing the data, giving employers a more complete picture of which factors are increasing engagement — and which aren’t.

Identify Attrition Risk

Quality of life is a huge factor in employee engagement, and AI software can help employers check in on their hardest-working employees to make sure they’re on a sustainable path. “Although the employee gets to make lots of money working overtime, based on the algorithms that we see in our systems, eventually those employees are going to burn out and leave,” DelPonte says.

AI provides early detection of potential employee burnout, giving managers a chance to offer that employee some time off for self-care.

Provide More Flexibility

The workforce is changing, and AI is changing with it. A “gig economy” model offers flexible shifts for employees, making it an attractive choice in today’s overscheduled world. But outsourcing to freelancers brings it own set of challenges. So how can employers be sure that they’re contracting with reliable talent?

AI programs crunch the data to determine the best place to advertise gigs, and identify the most reliable candidates for rehire, DelPonte says. This creates a pool of local freelancers, leading to peace of mind for the employer and happier, more engaged employees.

Create Better Leaders

AI is also intersecting with tech to create a more nuanced approach to employee-manager interactions. Virtual reality comes into play with simulation training, which lets a manager practice interactions with an avatar before engaging with an actual person.

“Sentiment analysis offers possible reactions to managerial comments, while voice analysis interprets what the user is saying,” Heinl says. “This replicates a natural language process, and gives the employer the chance to hear him or herself as the employee would. It’s all about creating empathy.”