Why chatbots will replace HR

and what you need to know now!

Hello again,

thanks so much for subscribing to my newsletter. I’m a bit overwhelmed by the positive responses. With all the newsletters available, it seems there’s room for one more: mine!

This is the last issue of 2020, and I’ve never been so ready for a new year. A positive effect of the pandemic is that it catapulted office workers into the 2020s. But I long for the day I can attend meetings in-person instead of on screen. At heart, we remain social beings who enjoy talking to each other!

And that’s exactly why chatbots are taking over: people find them easy to talk to. In fact, I discovered that employees share more personal and confidential topics with chatbots than they do with their colleagues or leaders.

I interviewed 3 founders of companies developing chatbots, also called virtual assistants, to automate various HR services and that led me to write about 3 important reasons why you will use chatbots in HR. You’ll get an idea of the progress in conversational technology and what solutions are available today.

Chatbots are the first step in moving HR to the Zero UI that will give employees a much better user experience. I first wrote about that last year, when I discussed why HR should make itself invisible and integrate with productivity platforms like Teams and Slack.

I couldn’t foresee that in 2020 these platforms would be the daily workplace for millions of people. But we’re pretty lucky the technology was available, and it was ‘just’ a matter of rolling it out. In 2021, you’ll need to bring your HR services into these environments. It’s time to meet employees where they work, instead of having them come to you.

Because December is a month full of holidays, I have included a couple of long reads. I even included a book I enjoyed, because of its hopeful message!

I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season. I’m looking forward to re-imagine the workplace with you in 2021! We’ll explore the Skills economy in January.


If my writing is meaningful to you, I hope you’ll become a subscriber:

Insights & Ideas on Chatbots

If you would like to understand the concept of chatbots better, download this Definitive Guide. It’s a great starting point and full of explanations, definitions and use cases.

Bennett Sung from Humanly.io suggests that when it comes to chatbots and AI, there are a lot of opinions and perceptions that cause fear and uncertainty. To have a thoughtful conversation, start with these Important AI Facts.

Over at Asanify, Aayushi Sanghavi is convinced that every CHRO needs a chatbot immediately. This article gives you a great list of ideas for different chatbot applications at work.

Chatbots rely on artificial intelligence and algorithms, and a conversation on ethics is mandatory. AI without oversight can lead to bias with profound consequences: one of the most obvious is a lack of diversity in your workforce. That’s why New York City contemplates placing restrictions on AI in hiring. I think it’s just the beginning of governments taking an interest.

We no longer teach people to communicate with systems, writes Amit Soni in Work from Home with Chatbots - Experience, Economics, and Enterprise. Instead, we’re teaching systems to communicate with people. He includes 7 tips to successfully introduce chatbots in the enterprise.

Meet the Innovators

Check out these new HRTechRadar members:

HR Service Management: Gather

Learning & Development: Benoova AI

Talent acquisition: Recii, SonicJobs

Workplace Tech: Humaxa

What’s next?

In the last issue I recommended that you invite a startup to every RFP. Thomas Otter takes that one step further and gives you 10 tips how not to work with startups. Don’t worry, he also explains how to make your collaboration with a startup a resounding success!

Speaking about startups, how did the pandemic affect these young companies? Atomico unpacks these changes in the State of European Tech. Check out the interactive infographic, then read the full report for more insights on topics like value creation, investments, diversity and regulations.

What is the most time consuming part of an HR job? Eddy Williams from the Bot Platform asked a few HR professionals, and they all mentioned onboarding or inducting new starters (with corona in first place!). He writes how automation can help you retain (new) employees.

And on keeping employees engaged, remember that interesting finding that employees who work from home are more productive? Turns out, they are even more productive than you thought. Because they have more time and can’t go out, they use that free time to create side businesses at levels we’ve not seen before.

HR tech platform Runa released the findings of a survey conducted on 375 HR executives about the future of work in Latin America. In addition to some interesting stats, you’ll read how HR professionals are helping employees deal with the mental impact of COVID-19, the tools they use and what measures they are adopting to bring people back to work safely.

But are we going back to the office? Or will we feel more comfortable in virtual headquarters? Startups like Branch and Virtual bet on that and investors are warming up to the idea. Expect to see more virtual HQs come to market in 2021.

Virtual events and meetings are hot too. To attend the 2021 conferences in style, add a VR headset to your Christmas list.

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Movers and shakers

The latest funding rounds and company updates:

Check out all announcements.


Dec 15-17 The Reboot Work Festival

Jan 13-15 FUEL: A 2021 Kickoff Event

Jan 20-21 The Workplace Inspirathon

View all events.

And if you are looking for a good book…

My favorite summer read was “Humankind” by Rutger Bregman. The literal translation of the Dutch title is “most people are decent” and that is the hopeful message that the book focuses on. After everything we went through in 2020, we can use a positive outlook.

We are being taught that people are selfish by nature and driven by self-interest. Many studies seem to support that assumption. But is it true? Rutger Bregman decided to dig a little deeper into the research that led to these conclusions.

Bregman is a wonderful story teller, who looks at famous studies with a fresh perspective and takes them apart. He sheds new light on conclusions we have taken for granted, from the infamous Stanford prison experiment to how soldiers treat the enemy on the battle field. He constantly reminds us that people are kinder than we think.

What he concludes is that human resourcefulness, kindness and cooperation have been the greatest factors in our long-term success on the planet. When it comes down to it, people care about others. And many of you have shown that kindness in the past year: to care for family and friends, and to help strangers.

This book will challenge the beliefs you have about others. It will also leave you with a sense of optimism and hope that we can create a better future. Which is what startups are all about. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. Let me know!

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See you next month!

Do you have comments, questions, tips, links for the next issue? Send me a note or schedule a chat.

Written by Anita Lettink. I write about workplace innovation and the future of work. I run HRTechRadar to showcase startups. I’m also an analyst & advisor.: ask me about HR, payroll and outsourcing. You can connect with me on Linkedin or Twitter.