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Using AI to Enhance Employee Communications


A man wearing headphones is working on a laptop.

​A Gartner survey reveals that 38 percent of employees and managers feel bombarded by excessive, confusing internal communications, leading to misalignment and unopened messages. Artificial intelligence can make employee communications better.

Joel DiGirolamo, vice president of research and data science at the International Coaching Federation, suggests using ChatGPT as a primary tool. For example, he said, you can ask ChatGPT a simple question such as: "Please write an employee communication on the reasons for a dress code in the workplace." Or, you can be more specific, putting parameters on the question, such as: "In a manufacturing setting, where must one wear steel-toed shoes?"

"Generative AI can also be useful in providing a first-draft communication as well as elements that one may otherwise not consider, thus providing a more comprehensive communication to employees," he said.

Creating content is an obvious and increasingly common use case for tools such as GenAI. But there are other innovative ways HR and corporate communications pros are putting these tools to use to enhance employee communication.

Focus Group Summaries and Sentiment Analysis

"We have discovered that using very specific prompts when working with generative AI can synthesize focus group and workshop transcripts to provide an alternative look at the information provided in those sessions," DiGirolamo said. That, he said, "provides an inexpensive way to ensure we are mining those sessions thoroughly, which can help to formulate conclusions and related communications."

A similar type of assessment can be done using sentiment analysis to help gauge employee feelings and perceptions.

"We can assess employee feedback, sentiments and concerns from a variety of communication channels with the aid of AI-enabled sentiment analysis tools," said Vikas Kaushik, CEO at TechAhead in Los Angeles. "This understanding informs our HR practices and engagement tactics, promoting a more diverse and cooperative workplace."

Creating Presentations

Robert Garcia is vice president of the International Coaching Federation. "In attending several conferences recently, we've heard many presenters admit that ChatGPT developed 80 percent of their presentations," Garcia said. "More and more professionals are using GenAI as a first step in the process of creating employee communications, tools and resources in the workplace."

Chatbots

While not a new AI-powered development, chatbots are becoming more sophisticated. By now, we're all familiar with chatbots such as Alexa and Siri. Many companies have also now incorporated AI-powered chatbots into their employee communications platforms, as TechAhead has done. There, said Kaushik, chatbots are used "to expedite information distribution, automate repetitive questions and even provide customized onboarding experiences."

Personalization

AI algorithms can be used to segment employees on a wide range of criteria, such as job role, location or interests, said Robert Grover, senior content editor for Staffbase. This, he said, allows internal communications professionals to deliver personalized, targeted messages. "AI can also automate the process of creating and sending personalized emails, newsletters or notifications, ensuring relevant content reaches the right individuals."

Translation

One area where AI can be an exceptionally useful tool for global organizations is translation, Grover said. "For organizations with a global workforce, such AI-powered translation tools can facilitate effective communication across language barriers. These tools can automatically translate messages, documents or presentations. As a result, information is accessible and understood by employees regardless of their language proficiency."

Data Analysis

AI can also help to streamline and enhance data analysis. "Our ability to make informed decisions regarding our communication tactics is made possible by AI's capacity to digest enormous volumes of data and give pertinent insights," Kaushik said.

Scaling Employee Communications With AI

Sabra Sciolaro is the chief people officer at Firstup. Leveraging AI to power employee communications can be especially powerful in large, distributed workforces with multiple communication channels, as Firstup has discovered. "There are so many channels and platforms used by our fully distributed workforce that it would be nearly impossible to understand exactly when and where to reach employees otherwise," Sciolaro said.

At Firstup, Sciolaro said, "we leverage Firstup's own intelligent communication platform to view and gather employee engagement data in real time and then automate and orchestrate personalized communications at scale, made possible by an advanced machine learning model." This, she said, allows the company to "tailor communication and information delivery to each individual employee, when, where and how they want to receive it." That, she said, has had a significant positive impact on engagement. The company has seen a 151 percent year-over-year increase in views, likes, reads, comments and shares of their employee communications.

Best Practice Advice 

Employee acceptance of AI is one barrier that many companies still face—not with all employees, but with some, Garcia said. "I believe there is a range, from those that accept and want to learn and use generative AI more, to those who are very skeptical and resistant to embrace it." Like any tool, he said, AI needs to be learned to be used effectively.

Taking time to understand and address employee concerns is important. It's also important to have steps and practices in place to review outputs for accuracy and reliability.

When using GenAI, for instance, Garcia said, "the information provided by AI needs to be validated by subject matter experts for accuracy and to ensure the insights are realistic." DiGirolamo agrees. "While GenAI can help to uncover previously unknown elements of a topic, one absolutely must check its outputs to make sure that the tool is not fabricating results, otherwise known as hallucinating," he said. 

The potential for bias is another concern that has been widely reported and is currently being considered and addressed by U.S. regulatory agencies and the European Union.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a freelance writer in Chippewa Falls, Wis.

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