Maggie BleharJuly 28, 2023
Topics: Employee Experience

Empowering People, Driving Success: The Impact of Skills Data in Modern Organizations

Organizations are increasingly recognizing the crucial role that people play in their success. By assessing their skills and skills gaps, companies can offer gigs or learning and development opportunities to help their employees realize their full potential.

Skills data is critical for organizational success, as it can optimize talent allocation, foster innovation, and equip employer’s to better leverage their people to meet market demands. Neglecting it puts a company at risk of increasing skills gaps, reducing employee engagement, and losing talent.

On Talent Experience Live, we were joined by Lora Kantorovich, Product Director at Phenom, to discuss how using skills data benefits employees, managers, and HR professionals, while empowering organizations to unlock the full potential of their workforce and thrive in today's competitive landscape.

Watch the full episode below, or read on for the highlights.


How Skills Drive Organizational Success

Organizations are dynamic, constantly undergoing evolution and growth. Take Apple, for example, which originated as a home computer company and now offers products like watches, iPhones, headphones, and more. To sustain and enhance this growth, organizations must strive to instill a similar spirit within their employees.

According to Kantorovich, one of the most crucial factors in organizational success is investing in people and fostering a reciprocal relationship where individuals also invest in the organization. By focusing on the people and their achievements, organizations recognize the value that each individual brings to the collective. This is where getting an understanding of the existing skills across your workforce — and building a database of skills — becomes critical.

To utilize skills data effectively, it’s important to understand where employees stand. If you’re expanding your business, for example, you need to know what skills your organization already has and help employees bridge any skills gaps required to grow.

Advancements in AI technology have opened up new ways to address this. Automated systems and data-driven approaches now allow organizations to gain a deeper understanding of their employees' aspirations, needs, and potential alignments with organizational goals. This enables them to make more informed decisions regarding talent management, skill development, and employee engagement.

“Skills are data that help you understand who your employees are,” Kantorovich stressed. “They are foundational, but I’m going to be very explicit to say that skills are just the beginning. To understand who people are, we need a lot more information… but skills is that starting point.”


Know Your Skills

Creating transparency and encouraging employees to express their desire to transition careers internally has proven to be a challenging task. Often, employees may not feel that their current skill set is unique or applicable to other roles, or they are hesitant to express their desire to change tracks.

“Automating how you enable folks to understand their skills and gaps is important,” said Kantorovich, and it’s an essential first step toward transparency. Leveraging technology like an online employee profile that allows individuals to self-reflect and add their skills makes the process more efficient and user-friendly. Additionally, AI-powered technologies can play a vital role in inferring employee skills based on various data points, and then offering personalized suggestions for potential career paths or projects that align with their capabilities and interests.

By gathering this data, individuals gain actionable insights into their strengths and areas for improvement, which can serve as a foundation for career development.


Empowering Your Organization To Empower Employees

Equipping employees with the tools they need to assess their skills and work to close skills gaps benefits your organization overall. To do this, talent management, people managers, and employees must all work together to understand who the employee really is, what their aspirations are, and where they see themselves down the line.

Kantorovich stresses the importance of establishing a system to document manager feedback in a way that seamlessly integrates with the company’s overall data warehouse, which contains all essential skills data. Because employee information was — and still is — often kept informally, it is crucial to make it accessible and referenceable to the entire team, allowing them to collectively identify the best-fit opportunities for each employee.

An end-to-end system, like a talent marketplace, keeps track of employees' skills, aspirations, and career progression, serving as a platform for employees to upskill or reskill themselves, and apply for open positions that interest them. Utilizing an omni-channel approach ensures that employees have various resources and opportunities available to support their growth and career development journey.

“This information is being used for your benefit and the benefit of the organization,” and you want to make sure employees understand that, Kantorovich said. “A skills-based organization is an organization that’s creating trust, transparency and honesty. That’s where people want to work.”


What Happens to Companies That Ignore Skills Data?

“If you're not thinking about skills data, you're already behind,” Kantorovich said. While skills data is just one aspect of the broader data puzzle, it plays a crucial role in driving actionable insights and informing business decisions. Relying solely on intuition without leveraging comprehensive business data, including employee information, hampers the functioning of any business.

Real-time access to employee data and analytics is indispensable for executing business objectives efficiently. Failing to have this critical information at hand leads to lost time, reduced visibility, and an inability to leverage your people effectively. To stay competitive and succeed, businesses must prioritize and utilize skills data and other essential data elements to drive growth and progress.

Here are two easy ways for companies to get started with skills:

  1. Enable your employees to start adding their skills to their profiles (ultimately building a “self-assessment skills ontology”).

  2. Use AI-powered technology, like a talent marketplace, to automatically generate skills data and match employees with open roles. This technology can build an ontology for you.

Related reading: Futureproof Your Workforce: The Importance of Upskilling and Reskilling


How Do We Factor In Ethics?

Using AI to make these decisions is only an ethical concern if you aren’t providing transparency to your employees, Kantorovich said.

Maintaining and ensuring transparency across talent managers, people managers, and employees about how skills data is being used and allowing employees to opt in or out of sharing their information is pivotal.

It’s important to remember, though, that the machine doesn’t make the decision. People do. Take dating apps, for example. Just because the technology offers you up a “match” based on your profile, that doesn’t mean you’re going to marry them without going on multiple dates and seeing if you have chemistry.

In the same way with skills data, AI is there to provide insights, but at the end of the day, “humans have very specific skill sets that machines and generative AI do not. The human interaction is still something we want to engage with.”

Related reading: Introducing Phenom X+ — Generative AI for HR — And 18 Platform Innovations to Transform Hiring, Retention & Development

Acknowledging the importance of individuals in achieving organizational success is paramount. Through the assessment of employees' skills and identification of skill gaps, companies can proactively provide gigs, learning and development opportunities, and career pathing, ultimately enabling their workforce to reach their full potential.


To learn more, check out our
Definitive Guide to the Employee Experience.

Maggie Blehar

Maggie is a writer at Phenom, bringing you information on all things talent experience. In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling, painting, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. 

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