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In what may feel like the blink of an eye, AI is suddenly everywhere.

the AI empathy connectionIt’s entered our day-to-day lives and homes and it’s influencing, and at times disrupting, businesses across industries. 

There’s no doubt that AI is better at some tasks than humans. At Amazon, algorithms help manage inventory and negotiate prices with no human intervention. Recent research by The Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review revealed that 70 percent of respondents were looking forward to the more mundane parts of their jobs being shifted to AI.

But, not everyone is equally excited about the possibilities. In fact, our 2018 State of Workplace Empathy Study illustrates there’s a gap between CEOs and employees when it comes to checking the AI pro or con box.

We found that 70 percent of CEOs see AI as an empathy enabler, but only half of employees agree. (This may be because 70 percent of employees foresee job losses with the adoption of AI.)

On the face of it, empathy and AI may seem like strange bedfellows. How can artificial intelligence demonstrate a truly human trait like empathy? While perhaps AI can’t demonstrate empathy, it can certainly support it. If you think beyond the more analytically based uses of AI, there is opportunity for AI to help support empathy in the workplace. HR and benefits is an area where it can have a positive effect.

One example is recruitment. We are all aware of the war for talent, and the press to hire additional employees, including the HR pros needed to do the actual hiring. In this snake-swallowing-its-own-tail scenario, HR teams are strapped trying to keep up while at the same time needing to cultivate those precious potential new hires. Providing a positive, high-touch hiring experience with limited staff is challenging. 

You may have already heard about leveraging AI to screen resumes, but what if AI could interact with candidates during the process, providing them with personalized service and messaging, as well as information about the company, next steps and so on? That would free recruiting and HR to focus on other parts of the process, while ensuring candidates don’t feel left out in the cold and take a position elsewhere.

Where AI and empathy converge when it comes to HR and benefits is in its ability to interact with an end-user to provide a positive experience.

Here are three ways AI can support empathy:

  1. Availability. AI doesn’t sleep. During last year’s Annual Enrollment, our own personal benefits assistant, Sofia, took more than 14,000 chat questions or issues after hours and on the weekends. Now, here’s where empathy comes into play. AI is there for employees whenever and wherever they need questions answered about their benefits.
  2. Concurrence. The reality of the human condition is that we generally can only do one thing at a time. If I’m talking to Sue, I can’t also chat with Ed. AI is not similarly limited. AI can interact with Sue, Ed, their extended families, their co-workers, and everyone watching a Rose Bowl parade all at the same time. And, that means no one has to wait, and everyone gets the same personalized level of non-distracted service. 
  1. Time. AI-enabled applications don’t need to get to the person waiting outside their office door or run to the next meeting. Since they are available 24/7 and can service users concurrently, they can be engaged for as long as necessary—whether it’s 30 seconds or 30 minutes.

AI has some significant advantages that can be leveraged to enhance the way we communicate with people about their benefits, delivering a highly effective and empathetic experience.  

Want to know more about the AI/empathy connection when it comes to benefits?  

Read our E-BOOK

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