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The science of building workforce talent

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Worldwide Leader, Smarter Workforce at IBM, IBM

Human resources has always been about people: attracting people, finding the right people for the right role, supporting and developing the people you do choose to hire. Historically, that process has relied heavily on human intuition. Now, like other industries, HR is being transformed by the deluge of digital and social technology and the advanced capabilities of current analytics solutions. These shifts are placing a new factor at the core of HR practices: data.

Data, or more specifically, the insight that can be gleaned from analyzing that data, has the potential to transform the art of human resources into a science—from talent acquisition, to employee engagement, to retaining and building talent. 

Talent Acquisition

IBM’s recent study with CHROs, “Redefining Talent,” found that CHROs consider industry convergence the single biggest trend transforming business. As companies expand into new industries, the competition for talent increases. In fact, the same study found that 51 percent of CHROs expect more competition from new rivals in contiguous industries over the next three to five years. These shifts are putting increased pressure on HR professionals to find and attract talent to fill skill gaps. Advanced systems like cognitive computing provide a competitive advantage.

Unlike traditional systems based on algorithms, cognitive systems learn through experience and apply what they’ve learned to new inquiries. By applying these systems to candidate data, companies can more accurately predict which applicants will perform best in which role. Cognitive capabilities can also be leveraged in more proactive recruitment procedures, by using internal data on existing staff and external data from sources like LinkedIn to assess a candidate’s suitability for a role. 

Employee Engagement

The rapid expansion of companies into new business lines also has a strong impact on employee skill development and workforce planning. Employees will have to be trained in new skills faster and on a larger scale than before.

Cloud and mobile technology means a good deal of this training can now take place on the go. Some companies, like Globoforce, are tailoring their previously PC-based HR processes for mobile, with the launch of an app that allows employees to nominate, endorse and congratulate fellow workers. Mobile solutions provide employees with more flexibility, but also raise new issues as work creeps into the home life due to 24 hour employee accessibility.

When cognitive computing is applied to these new data points, it can allow CHROs to detect patterns that were hidden before, including trends in employee efficiency, engagement and retention. Cognitive analytics can help HR professionals understand the concerns of different employee segments, and identify the touchpoints of employee experience that have the greatest impact on engagement levels and productivity.

Talent Retention

With predictive analytics, proactive HR professionals can determine the probability of particular individuals leaving the company, given the behavior of other employees with similar characteristics. Using this insight, they can act to retain the company’s top talent. 

There is certainly no shortage of internal and external data on current and potential employees. The challenge becomes: how do HR professionals capture the wealth of data and insight available to attract, manage and retain the talent that will shape the company’s future? As insights derived from data begin to usurp intuition for HR, the art of crafting a company’s workforce is beginning to look more like a science we can measure and refine.

Join HR industry leaders like Jeanne Meister and your peers at IBM outthink tour in NYC on April 11 to discuss how technology and data are transforming the HR role.

Register for free now