Artificial intelligence, once a phenomenon only seen in science fiction movies, has left the realm of Star Trek and become an everyday reality. My phone seems to intuitively prompt me with ads for the take-out food I want and the sweater I really want to buy. It sometimes seems like our minds are being read.
The fact is, we are constantly being monitored and evaluated by automated technology as a way to make our lives more streamlined and efficient. By and large, this kind of technological interference is useful as it takes away the “human error” of decision-making and assessment.
It is also why AI evaluation software is being rapidly integrated into professional environments to appraise employee performance and gauge the strengths and weaknesses within a company’s workforce.
AI evaluation in the workplace can offer several advantages, but it also comes with challenges and considerations. Whether automated evaluations are a “good thing” depends on how the technology is implemented and the specific context in which it is used.
Here are some of the potential benefits and drawbacks of using AI for employee evaluation:
Advantages of AI evaluation
1. Personalized feedback
For better or worse, AI can know you better than you know yourself. Companies like Quantum Workplace develop AI software that evaluates employees’ strengths and skills and gives them personalized goals to help the company.
This kind of software also sees where employees are making mistakes, identifies where they need more training, and provides personalized recommendations for employee development.
In short: AI can help individuals understand their own strengths and weaknesses and offer suggestions for improvement.
2. Objective assessment
There is no ‘playing favorites’ when AI assesses an employee. It doesn’t care who you know or if your dad is the CEO. AI evaluates employees based on predefined criteria and data, rather than personal opinions.
This ensures consistency in evaluation across all employees as it applies the same standards to every worker, which can lead to fairer and more equitable assessments.
3. Data-driven insights
Data dashboards and reports are useful in seeing how employees are meeting goals. Interpreting that data quickly and accurately (with no human error!) is another matter.
One of the upsides of AI is that it can analyze a vast amount of data, enabling employers to gain valuable insights into performance trends and patterns. This data-driven approach can inform decision-making and improve workforce management.
When we think of performance reviews, we often think of six-month or annual reviews. That kind of frequency seems archaic when AI can keep a constant (automated) finger on the pulse of your organization’s performance.
Automation of the evaluation process can save time and resources for both managers and HR departments. It allows for more frequent evaluations, which can lead to better performance management.
AI systems can scale to accommodate large organizations with many employees, providing consistent evaluations regardless of a company’s size.
Drawbacks and considerations
1. Lack of context
AI might know a lot about me, but it doesn’t always know what I’m going through.
Employees may be going through a hard time at home or juggling outside responsibilities that affect performance. AI may not fully understand the context of an employee’s work, including unique challenges and circumstances that may affect their performance. It may miss nuances that human supervisors can grasp.
2. Privacy concerns
Instrumental or intrusive? Collecting and analyzing employee data can raise privacy concerns. It’s essential to ensure that data is used ethically and in compliance with privacy regulations.
AI often gets a bad rap for being unnecessarily invasive as it combs through people’s data, habits, and lives.
Employees may feel uneasy or threatened by AI-driven evaluations, leading to resistance and distrust in the workplace. Clear communication and transparency are crucial in addressing these concerns.
3. Skill development
I learn new tasks quickly! I’m adaptable in new working environments!
But AI doesn’t know that. AI can assess performance based on predefined criteria, but it may not account for employees’ growth and skill development over time, particularly in roles that require adaptability and learning.
4. Bias in data
You know the saying: Bad data equals bad results. If you give AI software outdated data or misinterpreted data it may give information influenced by this bias.
AI evaluation: it’s how you use it
AI employee evaluation has the potential to be a valuable tool in the workplace when implemented carefully and ethically. It can provide objective, consistent, and data-driven insights into employee performance.
However, it’s essential to be aware of the limitations and challenges associated with AI, including potential bias and privacy concerns.
Striking a balance between AI and human judgment and maintaining open communication with employees is crucial to make AI-driven evaluations a “good thing” in the workplace.
John W. Mitchell, Ed.D., author of the upcoming book Fire Your Hiring Habits: Building an Environment that Attracts Top Talent in Today’s Workforce, is president and CEO of the global electronics industry’s trade organization, IPC.