How AI-powered talent intelligence is fueling workforce transformation

Why it’s time for organizations to reimagine their workforce ecosystems with a skills-based approach and AI-powered talent intelligence.

How AI-powered talent intelligence is fueling workforce transformation

We’re all aware that the way we work has dramatically changed over the past few years. Work is much more fluid and not always tied to a specific time or place. These and other shifts in the work world have created new opportunities for organizations to reimagine how they find, hire, and grow people across their talent network. This reimagining of talent practices also requires a reimagining of workforce ecosystems. 

Recently, I had a great conversation with Sona Manzo, Managing Director, Workforce Transformation at Deloitte, about how HR leaders play a critical role in navigating the changes and shifts now happening around talent management. We delved into how organizations can use technology, specifically AI-powered talent intelligence, to better understand their employees’ skills and the nature of work today to set the organization and its people up for success. 

Here are the key takeaways from our discussion:

A changing world of work needs a new approach

More organizations are moving away from static job descriptions and looking at the broader value of work as far as the impact to employees and the organization itself. 

Manzo cited Deloitte research that supports what we’re seeing — neither executives or employees see “jobs” as the best way to organize work.

“There is a growing understanding that we need to think about work in a different way, moving beyond the idea of jobs,” Manzo said. “Which is a bit of a provocative sentiment, but it allows us to start organizing work in a more meaningful way.”

Increasingly, work has shifted from a specific role to a specific set of tasks and the skills needed to complete those tasks. These tasks can be individual or work-group oriented and span across organizations and functions. 

As an HR professional, if you’re focusing on the requirements of the work at hand, and what skills are needed to address or accomplish that work, then you’re not limited by a role, job title, or a requisition. If you break it down further by skill, you may already have those skills in your organization. You can then compile a team of people with those skills who may be able to do that work. In many cases, this allows you to conduct targeted career development or skill attainment. 

Historically, many HR technologies and especially systems of record were built with jobs and requisitions as the cornerstone. This created a job-oriented view of the world and an inside-out approach to considering talent. By not being tied to a job role, organizations and talent leaders can look at talent and work differently to fill gaps in new ways.

How AI-powered talent intelligence is fueling workforce transformation

More organizations are moving toward skill-based approaches

The talent shortage is definitely the catalyst for organizations to review requirements differently, but now we’re seeing other drivers like capability building, diversity, and succession planning

“Skill-based organizations retain more high performers and foster a positive work experience,” Manzo said. “We’ve also seen that, as a whole, there tends to be more innovation. So, the impact is not just on the talent, but also on the organizational ability to deliver on high-level goals.”

When you look at skills, you can also tap into insights like adjacent skills to determine  learnability, what someone could quickly learn based on what they already know. With capacity building like this, organizations can fill requirements much faster from within because they already know what skills they have in house. Also, using adjacent skills for matching talent to opportunities creates a broader audience to select from because now you’re not just limited to what’s on paper or keyword matching. 

At Eightfold, we work with organizations to incorporate a skills-based approach into succession planning. When you change the criteria or add additional consideration for how you build your succession plan, you increase the audience for potential consideration and inclusion. Using a skills-based approach to role readiness, we’ve seen what happens as organizations consider talent from areas that may not have been considered before. Casting a broader net really opens up the talent pool for diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

In the webinar with Deloitte, I talked a little about a previous time in my career when I led campus recruiting, and we were looking for engineers. We’d match the requisition with people who were pursuing a mechanical engineering degree and turn away those who weren’t. What we didn’t realize was people who were pursuing a biomedical or biomechanical engineering degree only had a difference of two classes, but the majority of the students in those two other degrees were women whereas students in mechanical engineering were mostly men. By only looking at keywords and matching, we ended up turning away a significant group of candidates not knowing how skill adjacencies work. 

Today, we have the technology and ability to get more of that information and insights dynamically to broaden our potential talent pool upfront.

Related content: Read our latest report on building DEI strategies — and why it makes good business sense.

How AI-powered talent intelligence is fueling workforce transformation

The workforce ecosystem is being reimagined

Here’s the thing — much of this isn’t new. Employees have always had skills beyond their job requirements and have always done things in organizations beyond their immediate responsibilities. What is new is our capability to get at the data, visualize it, and make decisions from it. 

Many HR systems and approaches previously used were built around jobs where other work or other skill development was invisible. What’s happening now is organizations are tracking all HR and job-related activities in new ways, which results in more visibility and a more complete picture of what a person is able to do beyond how their job is classified in the HCM suite or HR system. Organizations can now reach out to people for broader opportunities while becoming more transparent, thus democratizing work.

Manzo shared the high-level vision of where this is headed: “If we put the employee journey with skills at the center, we can deliver a personalized experience to each employee based on their skills, where and how they fit into work requirements, and where employees want to take their careers. At the same time, we can engage and empower all the individuals who are supporting that — recruiters, hiring managers, coaches, or everyone across the spectrum — to make sure that we don’t just activate this personalization at one point, for example, the job requisition or performance review, but we continually engage throughout the employee journey.”

Talent intelligence is at the heart of this and sits in the middle of several processes, practices, and HR tools. Organizations can look at various aspects of the talent cycle, and the career journey fed with a variety of data sets and data enrichment, to bring together internal and external views with contextual understanding. It’s not skill-matching or natural-language processing, but it’s also understanding contextual information for how talent interacts within a specific organization.

What makes this exciting is we can start to incorporate things like skill-based talent planning and skill-based job architecture to not only recruit, retain, and upskill people, but also to redesign work. By seeing what’s happening both inside your organization and your industry, HR leaders can have a clear view when it comes to what’s happening in their markets and how leading organizations are building their workforces. This requires HR to get involved in redesigning work to build a future-ready organization.

True transformation is about technology, process, and most importantly, people

More advanced data helps organizations better manage the fast pace of change and the dynamic nature of work today to better understand the talent they have, the work they may need to do, and where they’re headed next. Additionally, when we think of talent management as mapping the entire candidate-employee journey through the lens of skills, it becomes part of the overall organizational strategy — what benefits employees is also good for the organization.

When we think of true workforce ecosystem transformation, it’s not just about technology enablement, it’s also process and people. It’s important to emphasize the role of people. At Eightfold, we’ve designed our Talent Intelligence Platform, products, and solutions to center around this concept of human and machine collaboration — with people at the center — to create a more equitable, advanced workplace for everyone. 

Listen to the entire conversation on “Reimagining Workforce Ecosystems” with Jason Cerrato, Senior Director, Product Marketing at Eightfold AI, and Sona Manzo, Managing Director, Workforce Transformation at Deloitte, now on demand. 

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