Monica MontesaOctober 20, 2023
Topics: Talent Experience

From HR Tech 2023: Skills and AI Are Everything — Here’s What To Do Next

Skills. Artificial Intelligence. Generative AI. Automation. Over the course of HR Tech 2023, those were the biggest themes and hottest topics in every corner of Mandalay Bay.
But what’s next? How can talent acquisition, talent management, and HRIS teams take meaningful steps towards building out effective strategies that foster growth?
In this blog, we’ll cover highlights from the event and what they mean for HR professionals in the months to come.

1. The Power of AI and Automation


HR Issues Are Now C-Level Issues

We’ve said it before, and it was a common point reiterated in Vegas: HR issues are no longer confined to HR departments. They have now become C-level issues. Labor movements, strikes, economic and world challenges, and other societal disruptions are causing HR to take center stage in organizations. The aging population and low birth rates in many countries are further exacerbating these challenges, making HR's role even more critical as organizations are tasked to do more with less people.

To make progress, it’s time to embrace the age of AI empowerment.

We’re entering an era where AI will enable companies to run their operations with fewer employees, while empowering those employees with advanced skills and flexibility. “TA tech trends are TA and retention trends now,” said Madeline Laurano, Founder of Aptitude Research.

HR will become the superpower behind this transformation — and they have the technology to make it happen.

Industry analyst and thought leader Josh Bersin highlighted the transformative power of AI in HR tech. Unlike pre-AI computers that required programming, AI technology starts with data and builds predictive models that allow software to interpret and understand it. This is a game-changer for HR, enabling data-driven decision-making and enhancing efficiency.

He also pointed out that AI is ushering in an economic era where companies must operate with employees who are expected to have enhanced empowerment, skills, and flexibility compared to the industrial age. HR, therefore, is poised to play a critical role in supercharging workers with AI-driven insights and solutions. Accelerating productivity through AI will be essential to achieve growth in a post-industrial economy.

AI in Action: The Rise of AI Assistants and Generative AI

AI assistants are becoming more complex and widespread in HR tech. But it’s important to acknowledge that they’re not a “magic solution” — AI is a complex and challenging technology that demands enterprise-level implementation. Rather, they’re an essential component of the HR tech infrastructure. As AI continues to evolve in this way, it will play a vital role in areas like recruiting, career mobility, organizational and job design, and employee self-service.

Generative AI is becoming one such powerful tool in HR, offering innovative ways to interact with technology by helping with content creation, predictions, summarization, search, and more.

During a session presented by Avalanche Studios Group, Johannes Sundlo shared practical tips on how to get the most out of publicly-available tools like ChatGPT. The big takeaway? The way you interact with these tools determines the output you get — the more context you give, the better the results.

Instead of approaching ChatGPT as a search engine, it’s important to “drop your Google Mindset” and start a conversation. Sundlo provided tips such as telling GenAI how to behave:

  • “I want you to act as … ex; a recruiter”

  • “If you have questions, you’ll ask them to me”

  • “Do you need anything else from me?”


But what happens when you have the ability to leverage such technology in a tool that already has all of that context baked in?

Phenom X+, for example, provides generative AI capabilities throughout our Intelligent Talent Experience platform to create better experiences and bolster efficiencies by:

  • Automating personalized content creation

  • Surfacing actionable intelligence

  • Eliminating time-consuming tasks for candidates, employees, recruiters, managers, HR and HRIS teams

While popular GenAI tools like ChatGPT have emerged as invaluable tools for accelerating content creation and even planning and brainstorming, it can take time providing enough context to get the best outcomes.

Phenom X+ is built with the ability to take into account an organization’s specific hiring, retention, and growth needs, leveraging an ensemble of AI models that consists of: a Foundation Model (any Natural Language Understanding [NLU], DeepLearning, or Large Language Model [LLM] such as GPT, Bard, or Cohere), Specialized Model, and Contextual Model. The Specialized and Contextual models draw upon platform data — including vertical, market, job zone, company, team, and user data to personalize, increase precision, and provide a phenomenal experience.

As a result, Phenom X+ already has all of the context it needs — only a few simple inputs are required to generate a multitude of options.

Our Take:

Every company is on a journey of transformation, and requires intelligence and automation to deliver phenomenal experiences. It’s more important than ever to dive into AI-powered solutions that are designed to tackle critical HR issues such as hiring best-fit candidates quickly at scale, identifying organizational skills and accelerating growth and retention.

The Role of Generative AI and Automation Across Different Jobs

Generative AI and automation are going to have a huge impact on job zones across a wide range of industries well into the future. Job zones are a way to group different types of jobs based on the level of preparation (which can include education, training, and experience) that is typically required to perform them.

There are five job zones — ranging from job zone 1, which includes jobs that typically require little to no education or training, to job zone 5, which includes jobs that usually require a high level of education, training, and experience.

Job zones help employers and job seekers understand what qualifications are typically required for different types of jobs and can help guide career planning and job training efforts.

Generative AI brings massive upside to improving the way job zones 4 and 5 find their next job, the means through which recruiting teams screen, schedule, interview and hire them — and the role talent management plays in developing and retaining the knowledge workers and information workers within the organization. For example, it will make it easy for highly personalized, contextually relevant communications to be sent to the right person at the right time without requiring tremendous time or effort.

Automation on the other hand brings tremendous advantages to job zones 1 and 2, reducing friction throughout every step of the hiring process to ensure organizations are facilitating a process to attract, engage, and hire for high-volume roles (e.g., hourly and frontline positions) as fast and efficiently as possible. Workflow intelligence enables organizations to fine tune their automations to speed up processes and improve conversion rates.

Phenom Automation Engine, for example, enables hiring teams and managers to save time and effort by creating a hiring process that leverages automation for repetitive actions and tasks that occur before a recruiter gets involved. It provides the framework and components to identify, build, implement, and monitor automation workflows into new or existing talent lifecycle processes (e.g., hiring, career development, and retention). Teams can also boost hiring quality and decisions with assessments.

Discover the real applications of AI and automation for improving productivity, reducing time-to-hire, and reducing churn — all while improving experiences for candidates, employees, recruiters, managers, HR, and HRIS teams:

2. Skills Will Drive the Future of Organizations

Skills-based HR is on the horizon. Seventy-seven percent of the c-suite says their strategy is more focused on agility this year — and up to 25% of jobs are expected to change in the next five years.

Creating a dynamic organization based on skills and talent intelligence is crucial. The challenge, however, lies in building a database that encompasses a variety of elements, including skills, competencies, interests — and aligning that with opportunities for learning, development, and growth across an organization. It's a complex task that requires a thoughtful, ongoing approach.

The key is ensuring your organization is establishing the right building blocks to get started.

According to Ryan King, Head of TA at Regions Bank, they’re planning to foster talent mobility within the organization by leveraging skills — and they’ve established the foundation they need to make it possible: 93% of employee profiles are available within their internal talent marketplace. They’re also receiving 1000 internal job views a day.

In addition, greater access to talent insights has dramatically changed the quality of conversations he’s now having with other senior decision-makers in the company. He explained that TA professionals and HR partners at Regions are having more strategic and meaningful discussions around revenue growth because the data allows them to articulate a stronger human capital story.

Skills-Based Recruiting

In addition to leveraging skills to evolve and mobilize an existing workforce, skills-based recruitment is gaining traction among talent acquisition teams. The most advanced AI technologies are being deployed in recruiting to determine the right fit for a job, technical skills, and overall candidate experience.

As organizations recognize the need to recruit internally and facilitate career mobility, AI-powered talent marketplaces are being used to match internal candidates with relevant opportunities. This shift towards a marketplace-based approach can generate higher value for companies and empower them to operate with greater agility.

Lavonne Monroe, Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition and Onboarding at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, shared how they’re also embracing a skills-based approach when it comes to hiring, managing, and retaining talent — and encourages others to follow suit. Her message was clear: organizations should prioritize retaining and developing their existing talent rather than solely relying on external recruitment. Rather than relying solely on external hires to backfill positions, the focus should be on nurturing and retaining existing talent through internal mobility and offering employees "stretch opportunities" that allow them to grow and advance in their careers.

“Just hiring is not the answer,” Monroe stated. “It’s internal mobility. It’s giving employees stretch opportunities. That’s where we want to go. And our current tech stack is the key to winning.”

Removing barriers to talent mobility, such as simplifying the hiring process and streamlining communication between employees and recruiters, is vital for promoting internal mobility. “With the right tech, talent mapping becomes an internal versus external exercise,” she added.

This change in thinking has opened up opportunities for identifying areas for growth and development, and has allowed the company to fill open roles faster with a 36% internal hire rate.

Monroe also underscored the crucial role of succession planning. This entails training employees to be prepared for future leadership roles, ensuring a seamless transition when the need arises, and promoting talent mobility within the organization.

Skills Strategy and Tech

With skills taking center stage in HR, many companies are investing in technology to support their skills-based strategies. The landscape of skills-based providers is evolving rapidly, with various platforms offering different capabilities to support the identification, tracking, and analyzing of skills in an effective, meaningful way.

However, many companies are struggling to adapt to this change, as building a comprehensive skills database is a complex, ongoing process. According to Tim Sackett, HR/Talent Tech Analyst, many organizations are struggling to turn their desire for skills into action. “We understand the ‘why’ but not the ‘how’ of skills. We call it ‘stuck on skills’.”

Although tech solutions are available to help, choosing the right one can often be just as challenging. The key takeaway here is that organizations must focus on their specific problem before deciding on a solution. Whether it's addressing underperforming groups or specific skills gaps, a strategic approach is crucial.

Our Take:

The most critical task HR must address is how their companies will empower individuals to transfer their potential into the skills and competencies needed for current and future markets.

Although using skills as a measuring stick for talent acquisition, growth, and retention isn’t new, however, the process for identifying and applying skills can be cumbersome. It requires meeting with managers, talking to them about the positions in their department, and uncovering what skills are required for those positions. Then, they must review their current employees, identify their skills, and effectively map it all out. From there, talent management teams repeat this process with every manager in the company.

Fortunately, technology can help. Many organizations are looking to workforce intelligence tech as a solution to accelerate workforce planning, offer personalized growth opportunities, and gain visibility into each employee — including skills and competencies, career goals, professional preferences, performance and engagement.

To truly embrace a skills-based approach to talent management, workforce intelligence will be essential for organizations moving forward. It provides critical context that drives talent mobility and career development throughout the enterprise through deeper insight into supply and demand, skills gaps, and succession plans. It does this by leveraging a dynamic skills architecture to shorten your implementation time and keep your insights fresh by constantly learning from decisions made across the organization.

At Phenom, we’re empowering HR teams to take meaningful next steps by assessing the current state of their talent management technology, and outlining recommended strategies, technology, and rollout plans to move towards a skills-based approach to talent management:

Looking ahead

While this was only a snapshot of the takeaways from HR Tech, we’d love to connect and discuss how you’re planning to address some of these trends in the coming year. Connect with us to find out how Phenom can help you and your organization address skills, hiring at scale, and more!

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