Addressing the AI Skills Gap – Interview with Meredith Graham

From talent acquisition to learning and development, AI has opened new pathways of collaboration between humans and machines and is offering a helping hand to almost all aspects of human resource management. Think about the tedious task of screening through thousands of resumes and finding the perfect candidate for a job. Along with the extended time and effort, the cost of sourcing, screening, and recruiting put a big dent in a company’s recourses.

AI can help recruiters filter and screen candidates, schedule interviews, interact with candidates and make the entire process of converting candidates into employees faster and cost-effective. Many companies have also turned to chatbots to interact with candidates and keep them engaged. Such an automated process eliminates any kind of bias that might occur in personnel selection. We love that companies like Netflix and Spotify understand us and recommend us shows and music that we like. These services are delivered with the help of AI and machine learning. For recruiting and employee engagement too, the streaming services use AI. This enables them to hire the best minds in the industry and achieve scalable growth.

Today, people are more interested in having a career rather than a job that brings paychecks. It’s rare to find people who would trade a lousy work culture for a fat paycheck. Providing a worthwhile employee experience, is thus, crucial in retaining good talent. AI can help managers design and provide a personalized employee experience.

Many companies have replaced the outmoded annual performance surveys with a continuous evaluation, informs employees about skills that they should learn to remain competitive, efficiently match current employees with new positions, and give managers insights into employee morale. AI tools can map employee performance and give useful feedback to managers on how they can help their employees grow.

Managers take AI’s help in developing personalized, data-fueled career plans that match an employee’s current skills level and personality. Moreover, such a performance mapping paves the way for a better system of feedback and appreciation. When managers have a clear understanding of The HR how their team members are performing, they can do a better job at offering feedback or appreciating members when they achieve significant milestones. One of the most basic, yet extremely important, tasks of an HR manager is to store and access employee information and answer employee questions.

AI tools give HR managers the opportunity to store all employee information at one place and access it seamlessly. They can automate repetitive tasks pertaining to employee onboarding and create a system where employees can find answers to their questions regarding HR policies and dos and don’ts in a device rather than running to the HR’s cabin every time a question pops up in their head. Automating repetitive and menial tasks, is perhaps the best advantage of AI. Compliance and payroll management, managing vacation requests; all such repetitive administrative tasks can be automated leaving HR managers the room to invest their time and effort in more strategic tasks.

In this interview, we have Meredith Graham, SVP, Culture and PeopleExperience at Ensono, on how companies with limited resources can attract top AI talent and compete with the Amazons and Googles of the world. “Many companies make the mistake of ignoring candidates that don’t have the “right” experience or degree,” quotes Meredith Graham. As per Graham, giving undue importance to experience limits the talent pool. Companies must realign focus on giving greater employee experience within the organization. Focusing on experience might make companies lose out on skilled candidates who, with the right guidance, have the potential to be valuable assets. Moreover, experience is more important after a candidate is hired than before because a positive experience is what makes talented individuals stay. Talent retention is a challenge for small and big corporations alike. According to Graham, giving the opportunity to employees to be a part of new experiences, is the key to offering a positive and worthwhile candidate experience.

Every industry vertical and business aspect including Human Resources has undergone seismic changes in today’s digital era. And while there are those who decry this change by using “put the human back in human resources” as their slogan, evidence has nothing but noted the great assistance that technology is rendering in uplifting employee experience. At Ensono, the HR department has leveraged cloud solutions to propel employee efficiency.

The role of technology in Human Resource development remains a grey-area and requires experts like Meredith’s guidance on making sense of it. “Companies need to invest in training and development of its employees”, says Graham. It’s the only way to be at the forefront of this change. This investment also goes a long way in enhancing employee onboarding as it poses as an unparalleled opportunity for employees to be a part of the renewed experience.

The HR Digest – What are the typical bottlenecks and roadblocks faced by SMEs competing to recruit top AI talent with the Amazons and Googles of the world?

Meredith Graham – The biggest roadblock to competing with the big industry players is explaining who you are. Everyone knows Google and Amazon. Smaller companies need to be able to tell their story and show how the candidate will fit within the company’s culture. Tech giants have great opportunities but working for a smaller company has its own benefits that can be even more rewarding. Not every company has the perk of bumping into the CEO in the hall and talking strategy.

The HR Digest – In what ways can companies build a good work culture that also fosters talent attraction and retention?

Meredith – We’ve found tech candidates want opportunities to try new things. Today, the industry is always on the cutting edge of something, and people want to be a part of that. Providing career paths and opportunities to work on new technologies helps attract and retain the innovative, hardworkers.

Meredith Graham

The HR Digest – What typical mistakes do you see companies make when building a talent acquisition and retention strategy?

Meredith – Many companies make the mistake of ignoring candidates that don’t have the “right” experience or degree. This really limits your talent pool and can prolong the hiring process. Companies need to consider building their own talent from within the organization — not only does this allow for a wider pool of candidates, but it also helps retain workers. Individuals appreciate the training and skill building opportunities early in their career, which helps establish loyalty and increases the chances of employees sticking around. The onboarding and hiring process is costly, so recruiting internally and investing in current employees can pay off in the long run.

The HR Digest – When we talk about preparing tomorrow’s workforce, how do you foresee the upcoming trends and technologies in talent management?

Meredith – Technology is constantly changing, and today’s IT team will not be the same in a few years. To be on the forefront, companies need to focus on training and development first, with defined career paths. Focusing on these elements, as well as individual growth, will only lead to success in the future.

This article was published in the July 2019 issue of The HR Digest magazine.

Meredith Graham – SVP, Culture and People Experience at Ensono


Meredith is an experienced Human Resources executive and attorney who is leading the HR organization at Ensono. She directs a team responsible for driving company culture, recruitment, benefits and employee compensation. Before coming to Ensono,

Meredith was chief administrative officer, general counsel and corporate secretary at Furniture Brands International where she managed the HR activities of over 9,000 employees in three countries. Meredith also served as associate general counsel at Savvis, now part of CenturyLink.

PHOTO: Ensono

Subscribe to the leading HR Magazine to receive exclusive Human Resources news and insights directly to your inbox.

Anna Verasai
Anna Versai is a Team Writer at The HR Digest; she covers topics related to Recruitment, Workplace Culture, Interview Tips, Employee Benefits, HR News and HR Leadership. She also writes for Technowize, providing her views on the Upcoming Technology, Product Reviews, and the latest apps and softwares.

Similar Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.