Machine learning in human resources: how it works & its real-world applications

machine learning in human resources | iTMunch

According to research conducted by Glassdoor, on average, the entire interview process conducted by companies in the United Stated usually takes about 22.9 days and the same in Germany, France and the UK takes 4-9 days longer [1]. Another research by the Society for Human Resources that studied data from more than 275,000 members in 160 countries found that the average time taken to fill a position is 42 days [2]. Clearly, hiring is a time-consuming and tedious process. Groundbreaking technologies like cloud computing, big data, augmented reality, virtual reality, blockchain technology and the Internet of Things can play a key role in making this process move faster. Machine learning in human resources is one such technology that has made the recruitment process not just faster but more effective.

Machine learning (ML) is treated as a subset of artificial intelligence (AI). AI is a branch of computer science which deals with building smart machines that are capable of performing certain tasks that typically require human intelligence. Machine learning, by definition, is the study of algorithms that enhance itself automatically over time with more data and experience. It is the science of getting machines (computers) to learn how to think and act like humans. To improve the learnings of a machine learning algorithm, data is fed into it over time in the form of observations and real-world interactions. The algorithms of ML are built on models based on sample or training data to make predictions and decisions without being explicitly programmed to do so.

Machine learning in itself is not a new technology but its integration with the HR function of organizations has been gradual and only recently started to have an impact. In this blog, we talk about how machine learning has contributed in making HR processes easier, how it works and what are its real-world applications. Let us begin by learning about this concept in brief.

Machine learning in HR

 ai and machine learning in hr | iTMunch

The HR department’s responsibilities with regards to recruitment used to be gathering and screening resumes, reaching out to candidates that fit the job description, lining up interviews and sending offer letters. It also includes managing a new employee’s on-boarding process and taking care of the exit process of an employee that decides to leave. Today, the human resource department is about all of this and much more. The department is now also expected to be able to predict employee attrition and candidate success, and this is possible through AI and machine learning in HR.

The objective behind integrating machine learning in human resource processes is the identification and automation of repetitive, time consuming tasks to free up the HR staff. By automating these processes, they can devote more time and resources to other imperative strategic projects and actual human interactions with prospective employees. ML is capable of efficiently handling the following HR roles, tasks and functions:

  • Systematic scheduling of HR functions including interviews, group meetings and performance appraisals
  • Automation and streamlining of workflows
  • Personalizing employee trainings Reporting relevant 
  • Gaining insights through data analytics
  • Measuring and managing employee engagement 
  • Tracking employee growth and performance 

SEE ALSO: The Role of AI and Machine Learning in Affiliate Marketing

How does machine learning in human resources work?

An HR professional keeps track of who saw the job posting and the job portal on which the applicant saw the posting. They collect the CVs and resumes of all the applicants and come up with a way to categorize the data in those documents. Additionally, they schedule, standardize and streamline the entire interview process. Moreover, they keep track of the social media activities of applicants along with other relevant data. All of this data collected by the HR professional is fed into a machine learning HR software from the first day itself. Soon enough, HR analytics in machine learning begins analyzing the data fed to discover and display insights and patterns. 

The opportunities of learning through insights provided by machine learning HR are endless. The software helps HR professionals discover things like which interviewer is better at identifying the right candidate and which job portal or job posting attracts more or quality applicants. 

With HR analytics and machine learning, fine-tuning and personalization of training is possible which makes the training experience more relevant to the freshly hired employee. It helps in identifying knowledge gaps or loopholes in training early on. It can also become a useful resource for company-related FAQs and information like company policies, code of conduct, benefits and conflict resolution.

The best way to better understand how machine learning has made HR processes more efficient is by getting acquainted with the real world applications of this technology. Let us have a look at some applications below.

SEE ALSO: The Importance of Human Resources Analytics

Applications of machine learning HR in the real world

Workflow automation

2 people conducing interview | iTMunch

Scheduling is generally a time-demanding task. It includes coordinating with candidates and scheduling interviews, enhancing the onboarding experience, calling the candidates for follow-ups, performance reviews, training, testing and answering the common HR queries. Automating these tedious processes is one of the first applications of machine learning in human resource. ML takes away the burden of these cumbersome tasks from the HR staff by streamlining and automating it which frees up their time to focus on bigger issues at hand. A few of the best recruitment scheduling software are Beamery, Yello and Avature.

Attracting the right candidates

Once an HR professional is informed about the kind of talent that is needed to be hired in a company, one challenge is letting this information out and attracting the right set of candidates that might be fit for the role. Huge amount of companies trust ML for this task. Renowned job search platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor use machine learning and intelligent algorithms to help HR professionals filter and find out the best suitable candidates for the job. 

Candidate tracking and assessment

Machine learning in human resources is also used to track new and potential applicants as they come into the system. A study was conducted by Capterra to look at how the use of recruitment software or applicant tracking software helped recruiters. It found 75% of the recruiters they contacted used some form of recruitment or applicant tracking software with 94% agreeing that it improved their hiring process. It further found that just 5% of recruiters thought that using applicant tracking software had a negative impact on their company [3]. 

Using such software also gives the HR professional access to predictive analytics which helps them analyze if the person would be best suitable for the job and a good fit for the company. Some of the best applicant tracking software that are available in the market are Pinpoint, Greenhouse and ClearCompany.

Detecting & understanding attrition patterns

If hiring an employee is difficult, retaining an employee is even more challenging. There are factors in a company that make an employee stay or move to their next job. A study which was conducted by Gallup asked employees from different organizations if they’d leave or stay if certain perks were provided to them. The study found that 37% would quit their present job and take up a new job that’ll allow them to work remotely part-time. 54% would switch for monetary bonuses, 51% for flexible working hours and 51% for employers offering retirement plans with pensions [4]. Though employee retention depends on various factors, it is imperative for an HR professional to understand, manage and predict employee attrition.

Machine learning HR tools provide valuable data and insights into the above mentioned factors and help HR professionals make decisions regarding employing someone (or not) more efficiently. By understanding this data about employee turnover, they are in a better position to take corrective measures well in advance to eliminate or minimize the issues.

Employee engagement management

An ‘engaged employee’ is one who is involved in, committed to and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. The State of the Global Workforce report by Gallop found that 85% of the employees in the workplace are disengaged. Translation: Majority of the workforce views their workplace negatively or only does the bare minimum to get through the day, with little to no attachment to their work or workplace. The study further addresses why employee engagement is necessary. It found that offices with more engaged employees result in 10% higher customer metrics, 17% higher productivity, 20% more sales and 21% more profitability. Moreover, it found that highly engaged workplaces saw 41% less absenteeism [5].

Machine learning HR software helps the human resource department in making the employees more engaged. The insights provided by HR analytics by machine learning software help the HR team significantly in increasing employee productivity and reducing employee turnover rates. Software from Workometry and Glint aids immeasurable in measuring, analyzing and reporting on employee engagement and the general feeling towards their work. 

Closing word

The applications of machine learning in human resources we read above are already in use by HR professionals across the globe. Though the human element from ‘human resources’ won’t completely disappear, machine learning can guide and assist HR professionals substantially in ensuring the various functions of this department are well aligned and the strategic decisions made on a day-to-day basis are more accurate.

These are definitely exciting times for the HR industry and it is crucial that those working in this department are aware of the existing cutting-edge solutions available and the new trends that continue to develop. 

The automation of HR functions like hiring & recruitment, training, development and retention has already made a profound positive effect on companies. Companies that refuse to or are slow to adapt and adopt machine learning and other new technologies will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage while those embrace them happily will flourish. 

SEE ALSO: Future of Human Resource Management: HR Tech Trends of 2019

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[1] Glassdoor (2015) “Why is Hiring Taking Longer, New Insights from Glassdoor Data” [Online] Available from: [Accessed December 2020]

[2] [Society for Human Resource Management (2016) “2016 Human Capital Benchmarking Report” [Online] Available from: [Accessed December 2020]

[3] Capterra (2015) “Recruiting Software Impact Report” [Online] Available from: [Accessed December 2020]

[4] Gallup (2017) “State of the American Workplace Report” [Online] Available from: [Accessed December 2020]

[5] Gallup (2017) “State of the Global Workplace” [Online] Available from: [Accessed December 2020]

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