3 HR Chatbots That Are Disrupting Employee Experience

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Tired of answering questions about company policies or logging every single PTO request? Now there’s a bot for that.

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Chatbots have become ubiquitous in our personal lives, whether you’re interacting with a customer service bot on a website or asking Siri who holds the current world record for hot dog eating. (It’s Joey Chestnut, who ate 74 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, if you’re curious. Way to go, Joey!)

Now, chatbots are set to enter our work lives in the form of HR chatbots or virtual assistants—an emerging technology that promises to provide a more personalized employee experience for workers while automating a lot of tedious administration for HR departments.

By pulling information from a hodgepodge of back-end systems (e.g., your document management system, your HRIS) and serving it to workers as they need it through the tools they use daily on the front end (e.g., email, collaboration software), HR chatbots act as a sort of pocket HR manager, ready to answer worker questions and process their requests in real time—with minimal human intervention.

But you don’t just have to take my word for it. Though HR chatbots are at least 10 years away from widespread adoption and maturity according to Gartner’s Hype Cycle, that hasn’t stopped a handful of vendors from taking the first stab at this disruptive tech today (research available to Gartner clients).

Here, we’ll look at three such products, detail what their HR chatbot can do, what challenges they may face ahead, and who should be paying attention to their development.

(For a full breakdown of the methodology for this report, click here.)

3 HR Chatbots Disrupting Employee Experience

1. AskHR

Boston, Massachusetts

A screenshot showing what happens when you ask AskHR, an HR chatbot, if you get time off from work to vote.

A response to a question about company voting policy in AskHR (Source)

Overview

AskHR is an intelligent virtual assistant that can answer employee questions, walk them through processes, link to relevant documents, or process common HR requests. Along with a company’s intranet or email, AskHR can integrate with popular collaboration platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams and even Amazon’s Alexa for voice command capabilities.

As questions or requests come in, AskHR will attempt to pull the correct response or perform the correct action through either its own curated database of questions and answers or your integrated HR data sources (e.g., your HRIS, employee handbook, etc.). If AskHR is unable to help, the task is placed in a queue. Once an HR employee provides the correct response, AskHR will remember it for future instances.

To date, AskHR supports more than 50 languages. Engagement analytics are also included so HR departments can monitor usage and discover how employee needs change over time.

Who should care

AskHR welcomes customers ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, meaning that any business with the right software in place that’s eager to automate a lot of tedious HR administration should be paying attention.

Challenges
For AskHR For all HR chatbots
The viability of AskHR’s in-house database for its customers will rely on continuous upkeep to stay on top of things like the latest employment law changes or any industry-specific HR regulations. Like every other product on this list, AskHR will have to compete against recognizable names that decide to throw their hat in the HR chatbot ring. For example, Oracle launched Oracle Digital Assistant last year—a chatbot with multiple functions, including HR.

2. Jane

St. Louis, Missouri

A screenshot showing what happens when you ask Jane, an HR chatbot, what happens when you ask how much PTO you have.

An employee asking Jane how much PTO they have (Source)

Overview

Meet Jane, an HR chatbot that leverages natural language processing (NLP) to interpret employee questions and requests from a variety of employee-facing systems (Slack, Skype for Business, Symphony, email, or any internal website). These NLP capabilities allow Jane to better interpret typos, slang, and acronyms, or ask probing questions if the system can’t understand what an employee wants.

Jane can integrate and pull information from a variety of sources, such as emails, calendars, your HRIS, your CRM, or your document management tools. Jane can even find answers within documents, if needed. If Jane can’t find the right answer, the question goes to the CoPilot Console, where an HR employee can provide one for Jane to relay back to the employee or build a decision tree to instruct Jane on what to ask or do next.

It’s also customizable: Users can configure Jane to do things like facilitate company-wide announcements or onboard new hires.

Who should care

Right now, Jane lists five industries on its website that it’s best-suited for based on their current customers: Mortgage companies, recruiting agencies, credit unions, higher education institutions, and real estate businesses.

Challenges
For Jane For all HR chatbots
The more that Jane can provide information outright—instead of linking to locations where employees can find the information themselves—the better the employee experience it will be able to provide. That all rests on advancing both its NLP capabilities and the thoroughness of its integrations. One major challenge that every HR chatbot faces—including Jane—is compliance. These chatbots can’t tell employees which insurance plans are best for their needs based on their pre-existing conditions, for example. That’s illegal. Vendors will have to build out some safeguards to ensure sensitive matters are passed on to a human HR worker.

3. Lexy

Dallas, Texas

A screenshot showing an interaction with Lexy, an HR chatbot.

Asking for an employee’s timesheet in Lexy (Source)

Overview

Lexy is a HR virtual assistant from Dallas-based app developer, Chasma. Using AI-assisted search, Lexy can find policies, documents, and forms from your intranet or document management system. It can reset system passwords, too.

Lexy can also connect with learning management systems (LMSs) to aid employee learning. Through Lexy, employees can get reminders for training scheduled in their LMS, receive course recommendations based on keywords, or get technical support.

Along with your typical front-end integrations, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Skype for Business, Lexy also works with Cortana, Siri, and Alexa.

Who should care

Organizations prioritizing employee learning and development that are looking to make their LMS more user-friendly.

Challenges
For Lexy For all HR chatbots
A potential gamechanger, Lexy’s integrations with Cortana, Siri, and Alexa nonetheless present additional obstacles in terms of voice recognition. If these platforms are unable to decipher common HR questions and requests quickly and accurately, the efficacy of this integration will quickly fade. Virtual coaches, which surface relevant e-learning courses for workers in real time as needed, are another disruptive technology in the HR market right now. If they take off, they can offer much more relevant course recommendations from an LMS than a keyword-based search can.

We’re still early on

I can’t stress enough that we’re still in the infancy of HR chatbots. Though this exciting tech promises to be a real game-changer, Gartner found that only 10% of HR departments have actually experimented with it (full research available to Gartner clients). In the time that it will take to reach the mainstream, vendors will come and go, common obstacles will be hurdled, and new ones will arise.

The products featured here represent some of what’s possible though: personalized, real-time responses, seamless integration with a variety of back- and front-end systems, and a whole lot of time and effort saved for HR departments that they can redirect towards strategy.


Download a snapshot of the chatbots covered in this article



METHODOLOGY

Products included in this report had to be dedicated internal HR chatbot solutions; those focused solely on recruiting were removed from consideration. We considered products that were less than five years old, and available for purchase for at least six months at the time of publishing. Lastly, the vendor had to be headquartered in the U.S. and offer the product on a standalone basis.

This research is designed to highlight disruptive and innovative products and vendors rather than provide an exhaustive list of products. Capterra disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

The information contained in this report has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. This report neither represents the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, Capterra or its affiliates.

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About the Author

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Brian Westfall

Brian Westfall is a Senior HR and Talent Management Analyst for Capterra. His research has been cited in various publications, including TIME, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Undercover Recruiter.

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