By Melanie Holly Pasch
September 26, 2019
Talent visibility is increasingly being recognized as the key to understanding the engine that drives businesses to success or demise. Simply put, understanding the skills, experiences, capabilities, and ambitions of the people who make up a company is the secret sauce to maximizing productivity, profitability, and employee retention and happiness.
Especially for global enterprises, talent visibility and its proper execution is mission critical. Applying technology, specifically artificial intelligence to fully understand internal talent pools and each individual’s strengths, weaknesses, and ambitions empowered leaders and HR professionals to steer their companies to new heights in productivity while their employees feel seen and fulfilled like never before.
The vision of full talent visibility – the first step towards the right person, in the right place, at the right time
Today’s global economy is moving fast and companies urgently need to have increasingly flexible and agile workforces to compete. Organizations need strong HR teams equipped with the right technologies to accurately allocate resources to meet changing business needs. This necessitates a far better understanding of internal talent pipelines, impending skills gaps, and talent mobility than is currently market standard. In fact, companies who understand this and take action will be the titans of the future of work in the not so distant future.
Full talent visibility is the first step toward internal talent mobility, which enables companies to develop their current and future workforces to meet their strategic business needs. The ultimate goal is to have the right people with the right skills and experiences in the right role at the right time.
The future of work necessitates flatter organizations in which skills can fluidly move across business functions, departments, and geographies to increase efficiencies and future-proof employees.
Along the way, contractors and freelancers can be significantly reduced as organizations can easily tap into the skills and experiences they already have on staff throughout the global organization. The implications of gaining full talent visibility and harnessing its insights are nothing short of transformative.
Harvard Business Review highlights that “PwC’s 2017 CEO survey reports that chief executives view the unavailability of talent and skills as the biggest threat to their business.” There is no doubt that lacking the right talent and skills can lead to crisis, but ironically many large organizations already have the talents and skills they’re looking for under their roof but they simply lack the visibility and technology to harness it.
The current problem
Most people have a pretty good understanding of the relevant skills of those who work closely on their teams. Not all managers, but good managers might even be able to keep track of who on their team is being underutilized and if they are really a good manager at an efficient organization, they might even be willing and able to connect them with the right opportunities to maximize their potential. This is all assuming that these managers have the resources to connect their employees to these internal opportunities. Before one tackles the challenge of actually connecting thousands of global employees to the right opportunities for growth internally, the talent visibility must be gained.
In other words, even with good managers who understand the development and motivational needs of their employees, most large organizations don’t have any sort of process or infrastructure to share, analyze, and therefore gain the bigger picture understanding of the scattered knowledge of these managers.
When employees feel unseen, underutilized, and under-appreciated they use the many resources available to them on their computers and smartphones to find their next opportunity outside of the company. The loser in this recurring scenario is the company that continuously loses talented individuals on a massive scale every year due to this massive talent blindspot.
In the best case scenario, large companies on average have 5-10% visibility on internal talent, competencies, and skills within their own organizations.
The first step is realizing the current level of visibility at your organization in order to identify and eliminate these blind spots. Listen to the data from your company’s exit interviews and use this information as a roadmap. Is a lack of career development up there on the list of reasons why good employees voluntarily leave your organization? It almost certainly is.
Companies don’t seem to actually know their employees’ strengths, weaknesses, ambitions, and interests. These four things are the key to both making them happy and getting the best work and ultimate output from them.
All of this is taking place while the World Economic Forum estimates that more than half (54%) of all employees will require significant reskilling by 2022. The skills gaps are only growing and so urgency looms for companies to strive for full talent visibility right away.
Barriers to full talent visibility
There are three main barriers to full talent visibility at large enterprises today and they are rigid mindsets, hierarchies, and high attrition.
Rigid mindsets, particularly among leadership, prevent decision makers from understanding the need to look beyond employee titles to see a person with diverse skills and experiences capable of contributing to the company’s business goals in multiple ways. People naturally want to excel and stay interested in their work, especially if they see career growth within reach so providing diverse ways for people to contribute is a great way to both keep them engaged and productive and also fatten the company’s bottom line. As Whitney Johnson writes in Harvard Business Review, a lack of employee engagement “implies a stunning amount of wasted potential, given that business units in the top quartile of Gallup’s global employee engagement database are 17% more productive and 21% more profitable than those in the bottom quartile.”
“If you aren’t invested in [your employees], they won’t be invested in you, and even if they don’t walk out the door, they will mentally check out,” Johnson continues. Rigid mindsets and a lack of talent visibility lead to employee turnover or possibly worse – stagnation.
Hierarchies place people in boxes and reinforce these rigid mindsets that say an Accountant must do only traditional accounting work and couldn’t possibly add 10% of their efforts to a Marketing project for nothing but the motivation of gaining experiences and skills on-the-job. Meanwhile, Deloitte finds that on-the-job development opportunities such as lateral moves and stretch assignments can increase engagement by up to 30%.
Lastly, high attrition contributes to a lack of talent visibility along with catastrophic effects on a business because employees leaving only contributes to a lack of understanding of a company’s most vulnerable employees. Changing the status quo, i.e. a company’s current talent makeup will surely change the gaps that need closing and work against efforts to better utilize internal talent pools. Since part of gaining full talent visibility is to decrease employee attrition, this presents quite a challenge, one that requires the right technology to beat.
The right technology will get companies more than halfway there
In order to gain full visibility the three barriers must be removed and replaced with open-mindedness, flatter more agile teams armed with AI technology.
AI technology is nothing short of a necessary tool for HR teams and leadership to truly gain full visibility of internal talent pools, impending skills gaps, and allocate their human resources accordingly to increase employee engagement, productivity, and retention.
Going back to the challenge mentioned earlier that most large companies simply don’t have a smart platform or system to aggregate and analyze the kind of understanding of employees’ skills, experiences, interests, and ambitions the way an individual manager can on a large scale. AI has the capacity to process and understand the big picture talent and skills of global organizations the way a manager can for his team of 5 employees, and make smart recommendations for how to best deploy these talents and skills across the business to drive business growth. It’s important to note that AI technology does not threaten HR and managerial staff but rather supply them with a tool to do their jobs better.
IBM Smarter Workforce Institute’s Employee Experience Index found that 92% of HR respondents expect AI solutions to deliver a better match between skills and jobs and 87% see AI providing employees with increased visibility of opportunities. The technology is here and HR professionals are ready to embrace it.
However, technology alone will not create lasting internal talent visibility – while technology is a required tool, organizational change must take place to maintain the systems that provide these critical insights into an organization’s people.
This includes keeping employees honest in their feedback and information sharing with the organization and ensuring the data is put to the right use by HR and talent development professionals in instituting meaningful internal mobility and career development programs.
InnerMobility by Gloat is an AI-powered internal talent marketplace connecting employees with personalized career development opportunities including new positions, part-time projects, job swaps, and mentorships. It empowers employees to take control of their own careers and find their maximum productivity bliss within their current company while driving business growth.