2023 was an eventful year for HR and talent management in particular, says Mike Bollinger.
Just consider the explosion of AI and its powerful potential to shape how we conceive, plan, and execute the way we work.
Today’s working landscape is evolving faster than ever before, shaped by these rapid technological advancements, a pressing need for global skills development, and widespread employee apathy – with a Gallup poll indicating just 23 percent of employees are engaged at work.
To keep ahead of these pressures, businesses must forge talent strategies that support their employees, both now and in the future. Crucial to this longevity will be the ability to tailor talent programmes to each and every employee. Businesses are melting pots of skills, personalities, goals, and abilities, each as unique as a fingerprint – so why aren’t talent programmes catering to employee individuality?
Whilst personalisation may sound daunting, breaking it down into steps demystifies the process and clearly showcases the value it can bring.
Customise learning with AI
The first area to consider when tailoring a talent strategy is content. Learning content drives organisational skills development, but only if the right content is matched to the right person at the right time – and no two employees are the same.
HR personnel can’t keep track of an entire workforce’s learning needs on top of other day-to-day tasks, so this is where AI comes in. AI can use data – such as skills, goals, and preferences – to map employees to the best content for them, thus maximising learning efficiency and effectiveness. The technology can also be leveraged to create new content, and this year we’ll likely see more instructional designers using AI ‘co-pilots’ to rapidly speed up the development of new, relevant content. Finally, AI can also support by automatically pulling analytics around the consumption of learning content across the business, freeing up a huge amount of admin time for HRs and managers.
However, there’s still a long way to go, with just 38 percent of businesses currently leveraging AI. But as this begins to shift in 2024, and the world of work moves from ideation to real-world implication, AI will take on an increasingly central role in the personalisation of talent management and employee experiences.
The real challenges for HR will be in the areas of explainability and model transparency. For users to trust AI systems, they need to understand how decisions are made. For example, explainable AI would help employees and managers understand why certain courses or paths are recommended, based on individual performance, career trajectory, or skill gaps.
Embrace performance as a two-way street
AI can also personalise other areas of talent management, such as performance management. For instance, the technology can assist managers and HR practitioners by automatically collating and analysing data from self-assessments, colleague feedback, and productivity metrics to provide a comprehensive overview of an employee’s performance.
However, for a truly tailored performance review, human interaction is integral. Currently, just 46 percent of businesses in the UK view performance management as a two-way street between managers and employees. But employees need the opportunity to share their perspectives, and ask questions, to drive their development in the right direction.
Collaborative performance management starts with how frequently conversations occur, and an annual review no longer cuts it. Instead, managers can conduct quarterly performance reviews, as well as monthly informal check-ins, to consistently track progress and demonstrate that employee development is a priority. With AI doing the heavy lifting of sifting through performance data, more time is instantly freed up for more frequent check-ins – clearly showing how harnessing the right technology actually facilitates more human-to-human interaction.
Finally, the format of the review itself is also important. Offering open-ended questions will encourage discussion and self-reflection, and integrating skills into the conversation will strengthen skillsets and drive development.
Introduce internal mobility opportunities
A revamped performance management process will also likely inspire many employees to think about how to reach their career goals. In light of the global economic downturn, movement in the job market has slowed. In fact, currently, 72 percent of people in the UK don’t plan on moving jobs in 2024. However, this does not mean that employees won’t have ambitions or ideas for how they want to progress. When the job market eventually reignites, talent will remember if their organisations prioritised their growth, or stunted it, and this will likely influence their next steps.
As such, internal mobility should be at the top of businesses’ priority lists. Internal mobility encourages employees to connect to new roles within an organisation, and there is already appetite for this approach – research found that 73 percent of employees want visibility into internal career opportunities. Interestingly, most people appear to wish to source these new opportunities for themselves, with 80 percent of employees indicating they would prefer a self-service technology when it comes to unearthing internal mobility options.
Therefore, organisations should seek out user-friendly and accessible tools that allow employees to explore opportunities. As AI recommends career opportunities, learning pathways, and projects that fit with individuals’ goals and interests, talent mobility becomes a completely tailored exercise – one that will help create a more adaptive, agile, and successful organisation.
A new era of talent management
It’s clear that, in today’s workplace, organisations can no longer get by on a standardised talent strategy. Personalisation creates tremendous business value, and has become the catalyst to promoting organisational growth and development both now and in the future. The world of work may be fresh into a new year, but it’s evident that the transformation and disruption that 2023 kickstarted isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Incorporating the right technology is, of course, one piece of the puzzle, but so is open and trusted communication with employees. After all, levelling up a workforce is a collective effort, and one that comes with collective reward.
Mike Bollinger is the Global VP, Strategic Initiatives at Cornerstone.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.