August 16, 2022

Josh Bersin: The Future Workforce Will Be Driven by Talent Intelligence. Are You Ready?

What if you could have a complete view of your workforce combined with industry insights to create a truly holistic talent strategy? 

According to Josh Bersin, the time to implement a strategy backed by talent intelligence is now.

As one of the world’s top HR industry analysts and advisers, Bersin is leading the Global Workforce Intelligence (GWI) Project. Powered by Eightfold AI, GWI is a first-of-its-kind, innovative, large-scale initiative designed to help HR leaders better understand major workforce trends to shape their companies for the future. GWI delivers research and analysis leveraging billions of data points collected by Eightfold AI’s powerful Talent Intelligence Platform. 

Together, this new approach to talent strategy will be game-changing for business leaders and HR professionals across all industries. 

As someone who has taken his own non-linear career path, including stints as a mechanical engineer, systems engineer, and product sales and marketing roles at tech startups, Bersin knows firsthand that today’s skills don’t determine what anyone will likely be doing in the near future. After a layoff and some consulting work, he reinvented himself in the talent space. 

“What I learned is that you don’t always know what you’re good at when you’re young,” Bersin said. “You tend to go into a job or a career that feels like a good job. …Then later, you realize, ‘I don’t like that kind of work. I like this.’ You can do that today now that we have talent marketplaces and online job ads. With remote work, it’s much easier to do this. 

“So I’m very sympathetic to people who get laid off, are confused about their careers, don’t know what they want to do next, hate their jobs,” he continued. “I completely understand where they’re coming from, and I think there’s always a path out of that.”

Bersin recently gave us the lowdown on how to get more strategic with talent. Read on for the biggest things impacting talent right now — and the best strategies to find and engage those people looking for a change. (Ed note: Quotes and comments have been edited for length and clarity.)

The 3 Biggest Impacts on the Talent Market Right Now

The good news is that whatever is impacting us right now — pandemic, war, economy — Bersin predicts the aftereffects won’t be “as devastating as you might think.” 

He says we’re emerging from an economic boom with low-interest rates, rising stock and home prices, and new investments like cryptocurrency. And now the market is correcting itself. Yet he’s optimistic about where things are headed if organizations properly navigate this time.

It went on probably two or three years too long,” he says. “Now that we have all this inflation, the Fed is saying, ‘Sorry, guys, I’m taking the punchbowl away.’ …The economy has been unconstrained, and that’s the reason the job market got out of hand; every company was growing. Every company was making money. There was just too much activity in the economy.”

Now that we’ve entered a slowdown, Bersin doesn’t anticipate a crash like 2008. Instead, he says it’s going to be a “soft landing.” 

“Most of the companies I talked to are still growing,” he said. “They’re seeing demand. People are still buying and going on vacation. The constraints of supply chains are all messed up, but that’s all getting fixed. So I think we’re going to be in a period of slowing growth.”

Bersin says that the second-biggest thing impacting talent marketplaces right now is transformation, which is really industry convergence. Many companies have gone digital and need services and support from other companies for activities like payments, analytics, cloud services, and more. 

Additionally, several organizations are entering completely new industries, like Amazon and Walmart expanding into healthcare. Industry transformation and reinvention is driving a lot of this sudden change. 

“We realized the reason companies were having such a hard time hiring was that they were becoming something that they didn’t know how to manage,” Bersin said. “Their talent model was changing. Companies have to build what I call talent intelligence—an awareness and systems so they can manage their transformations into these new industries.”

The third-biggest impact on the talent market right now is workforce mental health. Everyone is still working through the stress and burnout of these extremely difficult past few years. 

“This pandemic has dragged out,” Bersin said. “It’s created a lot of uncertainty and stress and fear, so we’ve got this issue where companies are trying to figure out how to take care of their employees.”

Recruiting, reskilling, retention, and re-engineering roles: The need to do everything at once

All these massive transformations happening right now — whether it’s workers taking on new careers or organizations entering new industries — are causing a ruckus in the talent market.

“Recruiting, reskilling, retaining, and re-engineering—they’re not separate things anymore; they are all interrelated,” Bersin said. “Those four things have to be stitched together. They have to be interlocked with a talent intelligence strategy.”

Bersin’s company is analyzing industries with Eightfold AI — starting with healthcare and financial services — to find out more about the tectonic shift that has to happen within every organization to create winning talent strategies.

And it’s too much for talent teams to manage alone. That’s where AI comes in to help.

Bersin says the best way for talent leaders to get a comprehensive view of their workforce ecosystem is to use talent intelligence. Beyond an empty skills engine, he says HR needs AI to look at all the internal and external data to make sense of it.

“The best word we’ve been thinking about is systemic,” Bersin said. “The reason we came up with that word was because we were doing the work on healthcare, and the healthcare industry is the largest employer in the United States. Believe it or not, almost 15 percent of Americans work in that industry. The human body is not a bag of disassociated organs. The human body is an integrated machine. All these other things are interconnected to this system, and when there’s a disease, your whole system works together to fix it. 

“That’s the way HR has to work. It has to work as an integrated system.”

How to Get a Unified View of All Your Talent Data and Trends

Bersin will launch his GWI Project using Eightfold AI talent insights data at HR Tech, focusing on this systemic idea of how HR should implement a talent intelligence platform so they can function more like a human body, with all the areas communicating with each other at all times.

CHROs should take note of why that system will provide a competitive advantage. Without pulling all their HR and recruiting information together, it will be nearly impossible to guide the company where it needs to go. 

“Intelligence is bringing these groups together and giving them a better data system so that they can make better decisions as a group,” Bersin said. “This talent intelligence team is going to become essentially the nervous system of the body.”

A talent intelligence platform also provides a deep dive and understanding of what skills are within the organization — and which ones they need to acquire either through upskilling or hiring. 

To date, most HR functions haven’t had the bandwidth to take on skills yet, which will be vital to an organization’s health. Bersin’s GWI is looking at Eightfold AI data to reveal what high-performing companies are doing to get ahead.

“We can see very clearly the kinds of skills, job titles, and roles in existence in high-performing companies versus lower-performing companies,” Bersin said. “So it’s a perfect roadmap for organizations on what they need to do next.”

CHROs and talent leaders can use this information to create intelligent talent dashboards to map out where they need to go. This data won’t just live in the HR department. It will be imperative for the CEO and other C-suite leaders to consider when making any major strategic business moves, too. 

And this makes the CHRO and their talent teams critical to any organization’s overall health, all driven by AI-powered talent insights to help them create a better workplace for everyone.

Josh Bersin will introduce new research on Talent Intelligence and unveil findings from their in-depth studies on the Healthcare and Banking industries at HR Tech in September. For more on this project, please listen to this episode on The New Talent Code.