Canadian HR Reporter

May 2, 2016

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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CANADIAN HR REPORTER May 2, 2016 2 NEWS Recent stories posted on Check the website daily for quick news hits from across Canada and around the world. WEB O N T H E ACROSS CANADA Labour minister eyes dedicated time for fathers in new parental leave rules Leave already in place in Quebec Labour minister says sweeping review of federal jobs grant system underway Says programs have had varying rates of success Clean energy in B.C. produces green power, sustainable jobs: Report Responsible for about 16,000 construction jobs Downtown office vacancies in Calgary hit 33-year high 'It's going to get worse before it gets better' Informational interviews more popular today: Survey CFOs then alert candidates to job openings Canadian dollar weakens as Bank of Canada counsels caution, oil retreats Bank cites weaker global growth, shrinking business investment AROUND THE WORLD Chinese Twitter users concerned over executive appointment Exec has background working with military, state security McDonald's stores targeted by protests for US$15/hour, union Strikes, protests planned for cities including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami BP investors say 'no' to CEO Dudley's £14-million pay deal Rare revolt for major company DavidsTea labour practices under scrutiny in the United States Attorneys general seeking information about scheduling practices U.S. finance officials facing chronically weak global economy IMF downgrades growth outlook for most regions Advancing women at work Why should an organization make gender diversity a strategic priority? Canadian HR Reporter sat down with leaders from Avanade Canada and Aspire at an International Women's Day event to find out. FEATURED VIDEO Many people would prefer to be hired by a computer: Study Younger generations consider AI more trustworthy, ethical BY LIZ FOSTER APPARENTLY, many job can- didates would prefer to be inter- viewed by a computer instead of a real, live person. at's according to a study by Intensions Consulting and futur- ist speaker Nikolas Badminton that found more than 30 per cent of Canadian workers under the age of 40 would rather be hired or have their work assessed by an un- biased computer program instead of a workplace manager. And 26 per cent believe an un- biased computer program would be more trustworthy and ethical than their current leaders and managers, found the study, based on a survey 2,299 people. e number was significantly higher among people aged 20 to 39 because this group presents a higher acceptance of technology overall, said Nick Black, managing partner of Intensions Consulting in Vancouver. "In the younger end of gen- eration X and all of generation Y, there's a much higher level of acceptance of technology," he said. "If you trust technology to potentially find your spouse in online dating or to navigate you across an entire city, why couldn't it also assess your job perfor- mance? Navigating you through the world is a fundamentally more difficult technological task than assessing the outcomes of your employment." And while 31 per cent of work- ers under 40 feel an unbiased computer program is more trust- worthy and ethical than a work- place manager, that doesn't mean 69 per cent would prefer the tra- ditional interview format. "ere's approximately 40 per cent that disagree and 30 per cent that sit right in the middle that are neutral," said Black. "I find that very interesting, especially when you're looking at the question of trust and ethics and, essentially, on the one hand trusting artificial intelligence and on the other hand trusting a hu- man being. It's not like human beings are really winning this. ere's 30 per cent right in the middle. And... whenever you see those neutral responses, they're the ones that through marketing or through doing a very good job with the product, you can shift pretty easily into another area of the spectrum. So, as a researcher, if I was stepping into the future a little bit with the data, I think that 30 per cent is ripe to be moved over into the agree area." e study's results were partic- ularly interesting in the context of employees' relationship with the workplace, he said. "When people reflect on their workplace, they find that there is racism, there's sexism, there's nepotism, there's ego and power- playing out there. So the idea that these people with all these traits and biases could all of a sudden just put all of that aside and im- partially assess you as a candidate or impartially assess your perfor- mance, that in no way is there any of these biases at play is a fallacy. I think, for younger Canadians, they're seeing this." And the technology to hire and assess performance already exists, said Black, citing an analysis of 17 studies of applicant evaluations found a simple equation outper- formed human hiring decisions by at least 25 per cent, regardless of whether the job was on the front line, in middle management or in the C-suite, according to a 2014 study from researchers at the University of Minnesota, the University of Toronto and the Educational Testing Service. "Irrespective of the data that's being put forward to an inter- viewer and all the things that are telling you one thing or another thing about an individual, hu- man beings are incredibly bad at overcoming their own subjective biases," said Black. However, there can be issues with computers. "Not all AI algorithms are equally transparent. There is a wide recognition in the field that AI systems need to be designed with human ethics in mind, and transparency is a key aspect of ethical AI," said Gabriel Murray, assistant professor at the Univer- sity of Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, B.C. "AI and machine learning sys- tems excel at learning patterns and making predictions from large amounts of data. Some of these patterns may not be obvi- ous to humans." Some algorithms — such as neural networks — provide accu- rate predictions or recommenda- tions but the process behind the prediction is incredibly opaque. Decision trees, in contrast, are not capable of the same performance but are very transparent. "You can draw a parallel with the way statistics and data analysis have revolutionized sports such as baseball and hockey… deriving player rankings that are often very different from traditional rank- ings. ese same types of tech- niques from sports analytics can be employed in human resources analytics," said Murray. "AI and machine learning can help the HR industry establish best practices and predictors of employee success by combining human expertise with data-driven analysis." Human expertise needed Maintaining that human expertise is crucial, said Rowan O'Grady, president of Hays Canada in Toronto. "If you only rely on technology to make hiring decisions, you lose that personal connection, that gut feeling," he said. "e interviewing process is completely riddled with bias. People who are interview- ing, the whole exercise is to rule certain people in and out. at is a bias. Interviewing is almost de- fined by bias." ere is, however, room for this type of technology, said O'Grady. "Any kind of technology that brings objectivity to the process is a good thing. Anything that can produce something quantifiable is very useful." An aspect of hiring AI may nev- er be able to address, however, is the issue of fit, he said. "Fit is a huge influencing fac- tor on hiring and retention," said O'Grady. "Having technology that helps you screen candidates, match candidates, assess can- didates is fantastic but, at the end of the day, you have an indi- vidual who's working for another person." As much as an algorithm may remove bias from the hiring or performance management pro- cess, there's still the issue of the candidate to address, he said. "Candidates don't assess fit themselves. ey frequently get it wrong and things don't work out." e number was significantly higher among people aged 20 to 39 as this group has a higher acceptance of technology.

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