• Chad and Cheese

A.I. School for HR w/ Jeanne Meister


After our "Automation and A.I.: Is Your Job Safe" Smart Stage presentation at SHRM Talent we were immediately ambushed by Jeanne Meister who wanted to talk about taking HR to AI School, so we broke out the mics. Enjoy!

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Announcer: Hide your kids. Lock the doors. You're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts, complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark. Buckle up boys and girls. It's time for the Chad and Cheese Podcast.

Jeanne: I said I had ...

Joel: Oh, you don't put your name on your little pamphlet here?

Jeanne: No, I didn't.

Joel: I guess it doesn't matter, right?

Jeanne: It doesn't.

Joel: Well, we'll get to that. We'll do the intro here real quick-

Jeanne: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Joel: ... and then you can tell us who the hell you are.

Jeanne: Exactly.

Joel: What's up everybody? We're here at SHRM Talent, Nashville, Tennessee.

Chad: Nashville, man. It's warm, dude.

Joel: The outdoor edition of the Chad and Cheese Podcast.

Chad: Love it.

Joel: Really enjoying the weather here right now.

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: I think only a beer is missing from this picture right now.

Chad: A beer and then a nap, and a hammock.

Joel: Did I just say you need a nap?

Chad: I know I need a nap.

Joel: Wow.

Chad: After a beer and a hammock.

Joel: You heard it here first.

Chad: It's awesome.

Joel: We just got off stage talking about AI and automation to-

Chad: Shaking up here at SHRM.

Joel: ... a standing, standing room only I think is fair enough to say what we just did there, but so someone, a mystery lady came up to us.

Chad: She said, "I want to be on the podcast."

Joel: She's the, I'm going to go with founder of Future Workplace, okay, and she has partnered with SHRM to do some AI courses. So mystery lady, why don't you tell us who you are and why we should care, and then we'll get to questioning you.

Jeanne: All right, here goes. Jeanne Meister, founding partner of Future Workplace, an HR advisory and research firm. We have a network called the Future Workplace network of I like to think of them as the pioneers in HR that are on the cusp of trying the latest new ways to engage employees and create a more compelling employee experience. So we took a poll of our members about a year ago and it said, "What's the one thing that you really need to do better as we're entering 2020?" and they said, "AI for HR."

Joel: Of course, they did.

Jeanne: Right?

Chad: Of course, they, and-

Jeanne: And they said we don't know anything about it.

Chad: ... they need to do a lot of things better for HR, but yeah, AI is going to be able to help them do that. Is that how you feel about it?

Jeanne: AI is going to put the humanity back in HR.

Joel: I like that.

Chad: I do.

Joel: Can we use that?

Jeanne: You can.

Joel: You haven't trademarked it?

Jeanne: Yeah. Well, go-

Joel: So how long has Future Workplace been around?

Jeanne: Six years.

Joel: Six years. Okay, so you're a baby, you're still in diapers as corporations go.

Jeanne: Well, I'm just starting to walk really.

Joel: Okay, starting to walk. She's stumbling a little bit, holding onto the rail, but that's great. So your members want AI and where does it go from there?

Jeanne: It goes from there, they want to recreate the employee and the candidate experience. That's what they're after.

Chad: Okay.

Jeanne: They see a lot of opportunity to take the routine activities that HR is just burdened with quite honestly, and take them away and offload them to AI so that they can ideally focus on the more strategic areas like closing the sale, right? I mean, AI isn't going to make the job offer, but there's so many opportunities along the way in the sourcing process.

Jeanne: I think one of the... As we just talked, I think in addition to the benefits of finding the right talent faster and eliminating that big black hole that we've been living with for decades now, the biggest opportunity I see is the possibility of eliminating unconscious bias, and so if you have the skills and credentials to do the job, you actually are more comfortable talking to a chatbot.

Chad: So we actually are going to be in Lisbon next month, and we're going to have on stage with us an AI robot that is an interviewing robot, and it's out of, where are they out of?

Joel: Sweden.

Chad: Sweden.

Joel: Yeah.

Chad: Tengai.

Joel: Yeah. Think of a like a Barbie bust where you'd style her hair.

Chad: Yeah, it's like this tall.

Joel: And so yeah, it's kind of like that.

Jeanne: Yeah.

Joel: And there's sort of a digital face and yeah, the video they have is interesting. Candidates walk in. It's a robot asking you questions and the main selling point I think is the unbiased angle of it's inter... It doesn't matter what color, how tall, what sex. It's going to ask you questions about the qualifications for the job and recommend you accordingly.

Chad: And the product is called Tengai Unbiased, so I mean, they are really focusing on that too. So do you think that that is the biggest advantage to AI?

Jeanne: I think that's one of the undersold advantages of AI, and as I said, CBS News did a special video the end of September on how is AI used by big companies, and they featured Hilton Hotels, which started using AI in 2015. So they interviewed a customer call center operator who went through the entire process using the LeO chatbot, and they said, "What's the best part of the process?" and he said, "You know what? I felt entirely comfortable being able to share my credentials and get the next step for a face-to-face interview without any unconscious bias. Just telling my story and what my skills are."

Chad: Which I think is awesome from a candidate's view, I mean, from an experiential view, right. That's one of the things that we really have to focus on because the black hole has really screwed us in our brands over the years. But I mean from the company side, I mean, that's kind of like an an underlying advantage. Are they focusing on that, saying that's why we want to go there, or are they focusing on it because they know that there are just all these efficiencies that are there to make sure that they can get to the right people faster?

Joel: Honestly, if I'm a hiring manager or recruiter, I'm scared to death that I could be replaced with a bust of a robot who will do the interviewing.

Jeanne: Yeah.

Joel: I mean, what am I really for then? If automation is sourcing candidates and pre-screening them and scheduling them-

Chad: And interviewing them.

Joel: ... and now they're interviewing them, then what am I going to do?

Jeanne: Well, I think the other question here is what's the responsibility of the organization you work for to upscale you? I think what we're not spending enough time on are what are the new job roles in HR as AI infuses the entire HR function, and I can see a number of new job roles. For example, Salesforce came out with a new job role, the Chief Humane and Data Ethics Officer. September of 2019, that role was filled. I think there's going to be a lot of new roles focusing on data ethics and data transparency, and that means that people need new skills.

Joel: Branding and experience come to mind, treating job seekers more like customers and consumers.

Chad: Brand ambassadors.

Jeanne: Yeah.

Joel: The sort of bleeding of marketing and recruiting coming together. I mean, we're seeing more bridges between those two departments, and whether they're called brand manager or employment brand, whatever. That would be another thing that comes to my mind in terms of what could grow in light of sourcing and recruiting and interviewing becoming less important.

Chad: So tell us about this training.

Jeanne: Yeah, so we're thrilled to have developed with SHRM a series of three courses. The series is called using AI for HR. Each course is a mini-course and it's three weeks, self-paced. As an HR professional, you receive five SHRM PCDs plus a digital badge from our firm, Future Workplace. The three self-paced courses are AI for talent acquisition, AI for internal talent mobility, and AI for learning and development.

Jeanne: So if anyone is out there in HR saying, "Oh gosh, Jeanne, but where do I start?" Right? The low hanging fruit is AI for talent acquisition, but the mind share, the urgency is AI for internal talent mobility. Why? Because people are staying in their jobs longer. As organizations are flatter, people are actually staying in their jobs 30% longer than they have before, and companies want to retain you as an employee and they need to move you around. AI is ideally suited to help an organization provide more internal talent mobility.

Joel: So who's teaching these classes?

Jeanne: Not me. We have identified 12 HR pioneers that have started their AI journey as early as 2015, which one is Hilton Hotels. We have brands such as IBM, Hilton, General Electric, Intel. We've identified these 12 early adopters, and they're telling their stories in three-minute video case studies. Our job as the course curators is to create the experience, the curated articles, the research and the application, and it ends with an an action plan. What are you going to present to your team? What's your recommendation that you want to present that your company should go on this AI Journey? Where are you going to start? That's how it ends, and you get five SHRM PCDs.

Joel: I assume this is something that you can put on your resume, potentially make more money in your next position, similar to other education advancements, right?

Jeanne: Absolutely, and so I'm Jeanne Meister, and you could check me out on my LinkedIn profile because I designed the course, and I also took the course so I have all the digital badging on my LinkedIn profile.

Chad: I'm not just the founder, I'm a user.

Jeanne: I'm a user, right, exactly.

Joel: So how would you define AI, because there's quite a bit of debate. What's your definition?

Jeanne: So my definition is AI provides you with the opportunity to create human intelligence through the use of tools and computer systems, so it mimics human intelligence. So your definition looked at the narrow, the general, and the broad. I think what people really wanted is just a broad definition that there are so many parts of our jobs in HR that are routine and manual, and AI can provide the ability to have the same level of human intelligence and offload those parts of our jobs that, quite honestly, we're not getting any satisfaction from.

Chad: Yeah. Well, and I think it's most important that HR started doing research and now having these types of resources available to them, it makes it a little bit easier to jump in and really start learning.

Jeanne: Yeah. So here's what I was surprised at with your talk.

Chad: That it was so awesome?

Joel: How sexy we were?

Jeanne: Well, in addition to all of that.

Joel: We get that a lot.

Chad: Yeah, we get that a lot.

Jeanne: In addition to all of that, you started by asking so who's afraid they're going to lose their job because of AI?

Chad: Right.

Jeanne: I was sitting in the first row because I was paying attention to every word.

Joel: You're a groupie, aren't you?

Jeanne: Oh, I'm so much of a groupie.

Chad: New subscriber.

Jeanne: I turned around and there were two hands raised.

Joel: Yeah.

Chad: Yeah.

Jeanne: And I said, "These people are not telling the truth." They are so terrified of AI that they are afraid to raise their hands.

Joel: And my comment was, "You all are some disillusioned people."

Chad: Yes. Yes.

Jeanne: And I think it shows the level of maturity. You said we're in the second inning. We're sort of like maybe in the first pitch of the first inning here.

Joel: Okay, okay.

Jeanne: Okay. I mean, we've got a-

Chad: It's a long journey.

Joel: It's very subjective.

Chad: It's a long journey, Joel.

Jeanne: We've got a long road ahead-

Chad: It's a long game.

Jeanne: ... and that's why it's really important to understand who are these people that have been using AI for the last three years. What have been their business results, how did they start and what can you take away to your organization?

Joel: So we're in the early stages and we both agree on that.

Jeanne: Yeah.

Joel: You can debate exactly how early.

Jeanne: Yes, exactly.

Joel: But we have a lot of companies looking to solve the problems of AI, and it's very early in that process as well. You mentioned looking at vendors in the landscape as part of your courses. What are some vendors that stand out to you that are getting AI right?

Jeanne: Yeah, so we have an AI for HR technology roadmap where we identified 80 companies, venture-backed companies that have solutions for AI, and we looked at it across the employee life cycle. So we started with personal productivity.

Chad: It's like road mapping it.

Jeanne: Yeah.

Joel: Yeah.

Jeanne: So hey, why not be curious yourself and for 19.95 a month, you could have your own personal productivity bot using X.AI, Andrew or Amy, and so we think that you've got to look at it... In order to really think about this as an opportunity for you and

your organization, you have to be a user. You can't fake it here, right?

Chad: Right, right.

Jeanne: So we have a number of personal productivity bots that I think you... That's one of the assignments in the course. We take them through it and choose one.

Chad: Build your bot?

Jeanne: Build your bot, right? I think in the recruiting space, that's where most of them are, so we have Maya competing head to head with LeO for the whole area in recruiting and sourcing and interviewing. We have in the internal mobility space, we have [Glaut 00:15:44], an Israeli company, but here's what I think is really interesting. So we all know about IBM and Watson, right? Okay, so they've been at it for decades, but a trend that I see is the commercialization of HR vendors by the very companies that are using AI for HR. They're going to be so successful in either building it or buying it that they're going to market with their own solutions head-to-head with the venture-backed businesses.

Chad: Yeah. Great time for competition.

Joel: Competition is good for business.

Jeanne: Yeah.

Chad: It is very good for business.

Joel: So what does this AI thing look, what's it look like in 10 years? What's the employment rate for recruiters?

Jeanne: I think we're going to have a whole new HR function in 10 years, and I think the HR departments will be leaner, more-

Joel: We agree on that, I think.

Jeanne: Yeah.

Chad: Oh yeah.

Jeanne: Yeah. We'll be more strategic, right?

Joel: Smarter, maybe.

Jeanne: Smarter. I think we're going to see the end of the self-service HR and the birth of AI-powered HR, so you're going to be focusing on predictive HR, and one of the cool applications is proactive retention, and IBM has, along with many others have patents in this area. So HR then leaner, a more strategic HR is going to really be key in predicting who's going to stay in the company, and if I have a high performer on my team and I get wind that they could be leaving-

Joel: There's a story about GM having something that can predict with like a 90, 95% confidence rate that someone will leave in the next six months.

Chad: It's all about signals, man, the signals that you're throwing out.

Jeanne: Exactly.

Joel: Do you fear that on the creepy scale, it'll get too creepy?

Chad: It's already too creepy. What are you fucking talking about? I mean, look at Slack.

Joel: I'm talking to her.

Chad: Look at Slack. I'm creeped out now.

Jeanne: I think it's on the edge of creepy. What do I think is creepy? What I think is creepy is when a company starts reading my emotions at work. What I think is creepy is when a company gives me a sensor and now sort of follows me in the organization as I walk around and knows who I talked to-

Chad: Amazon.

Jeanne: ... or email.

Joel: So there's a company that you basically wear a lanyard that's a recording device.

Jeanne: Yes.

Chad: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Jeanne: Right.

Joel: And it records how you say stuff, what you say, et cetera. Do you think at some point people will go away from companies like that and say, "I don't want to work for a company that's going to be policing every single thing that I do?" Could it be a recruiting deterrent in the future?

Jeanne: A good question. I think yes, because I think it really... What we know today about data privacy and how important that's becoming and the breaches in data, I think this is only the beginning of what we're going to be seeing in five years from now. So I think that's what's creepy, when somebody follows you in the company, around the company, knows who you talk to, understands who your network is, knows how many times you send an email. That's creepy.

Joel: Or even higher view video interviewing will scan your face while you're giving answers to questions-

Chad: Oh yeah?

Joel: ... and are you lying and are you nervous? Are you this or that? I mean, to me, if job seekers find out that that is what's happening during video interviews,

maybe they'll say, "I don't want to do an video interview with you."

Jeanne: Well, I don't know if they're going to have the choice. I think 10 years from now, everyone's going to be doing video interviews. They're already doing so many now.

Joel: So you don't think they'll just migrate to the gig economy and the contract and Upwork economy?

Jeanne: No, no.

Joel: No?

Jeanne: No. I-

Joel: So they're just going to take it.

Jeanne: They're going to... No, they're not going to.

Chad: I think it depends. I really think it depends on the market and if there are companies that are doing that, it has to happen broad base. Everybody has to be doing it and if not, I mean, you're going to see people jumping. But I mean, we're seeing it like somewhat, not that, but we're seeing that now at Amazon with the haptic bracelets, right, and they didn't have people leaving, and then we have people who are getting microchipped in Wisconsin, and then now we've got Amazon.

Joel: Barcodes.

Chad: Yeah, Amazon. Amazon has the little HUD, heads-up display goggles and that kind of shit. I mean, I don't know, man. It seems like from a human being-

Joel: It feels like an eggshell working experience that's not all that healthy.

Chad: No, not at all. Not at all, but people are putting up with it because they need those jobs.

Joel: Got to feed kids and shelter their selves.

Jeanne: Yeah. I think that so much of it depends also on the level of transparency. Are you telling people what you're doing, how you're doing it, and what you're doing with the data? Employees are going to demand you communicate transparency, and that's where I think we're going to see a lot more than today.

Joel: I still think there are a lot of employees who don't realize that their emails are potentially being read by employers.

Chad: Yes.

Joel: And that should have been found out 20 years ago if that's the case.

Jeanne: Yeah.

Chad: Yeah.

Jeanne: Okay. Well, thank you. If any-

Joel: Yes, for those listeners who want to know more, let them have it.

Jeanne: For those listeners that want to know more, my name is Jeanne Meister, Future Workplace. Please contact me on LinkedIn. The course series is called using AI for HR. It is in the SHRM e-store as of today.

Chad: Today.

Jeanne: Today is its birthday.

Chad: Breaking news, breaking news.

Joel: Jeanne, thanks for your time.

Jeanne: You are very welcome.

Joel: This was very fun.

Jeanne: Thank you. Bye-bye.

Joel: Have you ever thought about selling jeans? You could be Jeanne Meister, the Jeanmeister.

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