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The Natural Language Understanding (NLU) Journey into Human Resources Decision Making

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

In the realm of human resources (HR), there's a common understanding that communication forms the backbone of an organization. Observant individuals might be intrigued by the subtle nuances present in these communications. How can one interpret these subtle cues? This curiosity leads to the captivating domain of cognitive models and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) techniques.

illustration of a group of people sitting in circle and talking,

AI-generated image created with MidJourney | Owned by The AI Academy as per MidJourney ToS

The Lexical Approach in HR's Decision Making

Let’s start with a bird’s eye view. Imagine the vast sea of communications that flow through an organization every day – emails, memos, meeting notes, chats, and more. Now, dive a little deeper into the specific choice of words and phrases. The lexical approach posits that by analyzing these words and phrases, one can gain deep insights, for example, into the mental processes and intentions of the communicator. Why is this pertinent to HR? Because HR isn't just about hiring and firing; it's about understanding people, their motivations, their challenges, and their aspirations. It's about being that observant bird on the tree, watching and listening keenly to make decisions that are informed, fair, and beneficial.

Mental Processes Analysis: Words and Their Vector Meaning

In the realm of cognitive models, words aren't just words. They are vectors carrying weight and direction. Let’s consider a practical example from the HR documents that most of us might have come across: Imagine an email exchange between a manager and a team member: Manager: "I noticed you've been coming in late recently. Is everything okay?" Team Member: "Apologies for the inconsistency. I've been struggling with some personal issues." In this exchange, words like "noticed," "inconsistency," and "struggling" are not just casual words. Using NLU, these words can be analyzed for their vector significance. "Noticed" indicates observance and attention. "Inconsistency" suggests a deviation from a norm or expectation. "Struggling" signals a challenge or difficulty. When HR comes across such communication, these lexical insights could guide them to approach the employee with empathy and support, maybe even suggest flexible work hours or counseling.

The Curious Case of Unspoken Words

Sometimes, the beauty of communication is not in what's said, but in what's left unsaid. Take for example a team meeting memo: "The project deadline is looming, and while we appreciate everyone’s efforts, we need to step it up." Here, words like "looming" and "step it up" carry a sense of urgency. However, the unspoken undertone might be stress, anxiety, or pressure for the reader’s mind. HR professionals, with their

observant and curious nature, can pick up on these cues. Maybe it's time to organize a team- building session, or perhaps a stress-relief workshop?

Harvesting Insights for Enhanced HR Approach

As we've seen, communication is not just about relaying information; it's a goldmine of insights waiting to be unearthed. By leveraging cognitive models and NLU techniques, HR can get a clearer picture of the company's heartbeat. This doesn't imply that every word should be scrutinized excessively. While NLU is indeed a valuable support tool, it's also about embodying the role of the ever-curious observer — always listening and watching. It’s about understanding that in the grand orchestra of a company, every note matters, and it’s the silent pauses between the notes that often carry the most profound meaning.

In conclusion, while modern tools and techniques give HR a magnifying glass to view the intricate web of company communications, it's the age-old human traits of curiosity, observation, and active listening that truly bring about an enhanced HR approach. For organizations that truly wish to thrive, it's crucial to continuously harvest insights from the communication ambience, ensuring that the human in human resources always shines through.

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Ethical Disclosure

This content emphasizes the responsible and ethical use of technology. While technological advancements offer remarkable benefits, it is essential to approach them with a conscientious mindset. We advocate for the utilization of technology in ways that respect individual rights, privacy, and societal values. Readers are urged to consider the broader implications and ethical dimensions of their tech-related decisions. We shall not be held liable for any misuse or unintended consequences stemming from the information provided. Always prioritize integrity, transparency, and the greater good when integrating new technological solutions or practices.


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Content Curation: Adelino Gala at The AI Academy


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