The world of talent is undergoing the largest shake-up in modern times. Whether it’s the Great Resignation or the Great Layoff, organisations around the world have rarely faced so many challenges around retaining or bolstering their workforces. Many companies are struggling to attract and hire in current market conditions, while others are looking to downsize as they meet harsh realities. The one constant that has become clear: retaining, reskilling, and redeploying internal talent has never been more critical.
To do this, organisations need to analyse and understand what skills they already possess and where there are gaps. Human resources professionals therefore need to strategically locate skill adjacencies across entire workforces to fill business needs. And that’s where AI technology can play a key role in identifying high-potential candidates to address internal skill shortages.
Skill shortages are not necessarily a new phenomenon, but recent market forces combined with ongoing digital transformation have rapidly accelerated the need for new workforce skills. U.S. employers are facing the highest skill shortage in over a decade, while 54% of global companies report talent shortages.
More concerning is the startling lack of employer knowledge of the skills already available in their own organisations. A major 2021 human capital study across 80 countries has shown that most organisations are not aware of all the skills and capabilities within their workforces today. Moreover, they also lack the knowledge of what is needed in the next 1-3 years. Only 30% of organisations feel they have the necessary skills for the future. A scary prospect when placed in tandem with the ongoing talent exodus we are seeing.
Let’s face it, future workforce planning traditionally leans towards external talent. Prevailing assumptions remain that hiring is the fastest and most cost-effective way to fill skill gaps.
And in employer-led markets, this may be true. However, in the current candidate-led environment, skilled new hires are more expensive and much harder to attract. This has led 53% of business leaders to the belief that building skills internally is the best way to close company capability gaps.
Shifting to an internal talent focus is also far more impactful when it comes to employee retention and long-term growth. LinkedIn found that companies that ‘excel at internal mobility retain employees for an average of 5.4 years, nearly twice as long as companies that struggle with it’. Employees who feel their skills are not being put to good use are 10 times more likely to be looking for a new job. So, it goes without saying that employers should be regularly assessing and identifying opportunities for current workers that fill both business needs and employee growth aspirations.
Even in times without pandemics or economic instability, having forward-thinking workforce management strategies is crucial to the long-term success of businesses. But rapid, widespread technology adoption is also making employee skilling an urgent priority for organisations worldwide.
‘50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025, as adoption of technology increases’ World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report.
The question most organisations are facing through talent management strategies is whether to upskill, reskill, or redeploy? While some think of these as interchangeable, they each have distinct purposes, although they often need to be used in combination. All three are critical components for assessing and equipping potential candidates for internal mobility.
While upskilling can be seen in almost every career path, reskilling a person with completely new skills, or redeploying someone with similar or compatible skills, are more significant levers that employers can pull to redirect talent internally. Given current market pressures, these two strategies are becoming particularly important for employers to address skill shortages.
Redeployment is particularly interesting for current times, as we see many tech companies (amongst others) announcing mass layoffs. It’s obvious to say, but redundancies come with big risks. From a talent perspective, you risk losing good people and their cultural/organisational knowledge, along with the investment you already made in the individual, as well as paying severance. Not to mention the damage to employer brand and the inevitable spending to continue hiring for lost skills down the track.
If you can redeploy, or reskill and redeploy, you not only keep people in their roles, but you can also save time and costs compared to external recruitment. It can also be used as a talent retention and engagement strategy by giving employees flexibility to fulfil their career goals in- house. As noted by Aberdeen’s research results, best-in-class companies are adopting redeployment as a solution to ‘manage the full employee life cycle, bridging the gap between skills shortages externally and the desire to create more agile workforces by upskilling and reskilling internal resources’.
As organisations think about the future of work, some have begun to adopt a relatively new talent operating model known as the internal talent marketplace. This usually takes the form of a technology platform or site that connects employees with internal opportunities. It’s an innovative approach to help fill skill and capability needs with existing staff, while motivating and encouraging employees’ growth within the business. Leaders and human resource departments can promote various roles and then match and quickly redeploy those best placed. Consumer goods company Unilever has recently had great success redeploying staff through its internal talent marketplace, FLEX Experiences. During the pandemic, Unilever was able to redeploy more than 8,000 employees and 300,000 hours of employee work.
Elsewhere, Google is using AI to help power the internal talent deployment platform that sits at the heart of gTech, the company’s support and operations division. Their aim was to move skills across projects and give employees exposure to different environments, picking up new skills and experience along the way. Google designed and launched an internal matching market to bring individual workers together with projects and managers. While skills were of course the top priority for managers; employees had more power and customization through this innovative model to input their top preferences in a new role or contract. Google’s algorithm would then match employees with their 3 top choices before progressing.
Google and Unilever may have the ability to spend and scale internal redeployment platforms more than most, but AI can still play a significant and cost-effective role in helping companies of all sizes to intelligently redeploy workers.
Talent analytics and data give companies insights to address skill shortages more accurately. New technologies like X0PA AI are available that leverage AI and machine learning to analyze extensive amounts of candidate data across talent systems. The key is to start with an employee skills data base or inventory with profiles for all employees.
With the right amount of information, patented algorithms can identify skill availability and gaps, predict candidates’ success on the job and likely retention rate, as well as assess talent supply and demand. These technologies can then automatically match the highest potential internal candidates to open opportunities.
Using people analytics to better understand skill profiles and patterns can help managers and HR leaders to get a more accurate view of their talent portfolio. Internal staff can be compared against available external candidates through talent pool analysis, to assess role- fit or highlight skill gaps. This ultimately ensures that the best recruitment option is pursued. By having a more comprehensive view of talent, employers can better leverage their personnel’s adjacent skills and identify opportunities for upskilling and reskilling. By understanding how skills relate, employers can make the best-informed hiring and learning and development decisions.
A further advantage of redeploying candidates this way is through the more objective and equitable approach to internal hiring. Conducting role-fit analysis this way is a far more inclusive process as skills are the predominant factor in selecting an individual. This intelligent method removes chances for human bias in decision-making about individuals, leading to more diversity in workplaces.
Intelligent platforms can be very effective for helping redeploy contractors and other temporary workers at an organisation. With many businesses reliant on a contingent workforce for flexibility, new technology can be a gamechanger for shorter term talent management.
Due to the nature of short-term contracts, often employers are left scrambling to find replacements or renew contracts on a regular basis. New AI-powered technologies can track contract ending dates, automatically match candidates’ skillsets to open opportunities (and direct them to apply) and identify opportunities for upskilling or reskilling. This leads to smarter, timely re-deployments which keep pipelines full and contractors or temporary staff in jobs.
Market forces are going to continue to put pressure on external recruitment efforts, so it’s time to start looking from within. We are already seeing astronomic demand for learning and development professionals to fuel this internal skill revolution. Those organisations with long term vision will also be looking to hire individuals with transferable or adjacent skills to adapt to future new roles and capability needs.
According to McKinsey, organisations that realign HR processes to match skill needs can boost employee engagement by 50 percent, lower training and development costs by 50 percent, and raise productivity by 40 percent. So there’s never been a better incentive to start stepping up your internal skills analysis. No matter what your company’s goals are, using talent intelligence for internal redeployment can help you to stay competitive. AI automates lengthy talent searches and gives far more accuracy in finding perfect candidates based on skills. Most importantly though, this gives hiring managers the chance to place great existing and loyal employees in jobs they’ll love.
Nina Alag Suri is the CEO and founder of X0PA AI. Previously head of a global executive search firm, Nastrac Group, Nina has over 20 years’ experience managing and running businesses in the HR space. While running Nastrac Group, Nina realized the inefficiencies and subjectivity of traditional hiring processes and decided to disrupt her own business and pivot to an AI and machine learning SaaS-based platform with X0PA AI. X0PA is headquartered in Singapore and has offices across APAC, India, UK, UAE and partners across the globe.
At X0PA AI we are on a mission to reduce manual recruitment and selection processes, increase inclusion, and solve people-sourcing problems for enterprises, academia and government. X0PA offers a range of ethical AI-powered products that empower more inclusivity through the most objective AI hiring and selection solution on the market.
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