Maggie BleharJune 12, 2024
Topics: Employee Experience

The Thrill of Skills: Insight from the Frontline of Skills Transformations

The time to embrace skills is now — but what’s the first step toward becoming a skills-forward organization? How do you prioritize resources, technology, and talent? And what are the top benefits of this approach?

We tackled these questions and more at IAMPHENOM this year, with a keynote panel of HR professionals across leading financial services companies who are helping their organizations adopt a skills-based talent approach.

Read on for highlights from this inspirational session!

In This Article

    Why prioritize skills?

    Human history is marked by revolutions. Right now, we’re at the forefront of the AI revolution — and companies must keep up to stay competitive and relevant. Data amassed by Phenom for over a decade reveals an ever-increasing skills gap created by a lack of alignment between job tasks and relevant skills. And that gap is converting to a revenue loss that could reach $8.5 trillion by 2030.

    By shifting to a skills-based approach to hiring and retention, organizations can proactively identify these gaps and quickly hire the best-fit talent to bridge them. They can also better understand the skills already available in their current workforce and move internal talent accordingly.

    Are job titles obsolete?

    “Job titles are limiting. They may not be dead, but they are relics,” said Phenom’s John Deal, Senior Director of Product Marketing, in introductory comments. Using job titles as a primary filter for candidate screening unnecessarily limits the talent pool — as do college degree requirements, he added.

    “It’s a shift in mindset,” Deal acknowledged, “but a shift that opens up opportunities to turn talent pools into an ocean of talent.”

    Becoming a skills-first organization is a way to overcome these limitations. However, it requires a way to identify not only the skills needed to stay competitive and achieve strategic goals, but also the skills available in your current workforce. This can be complex, so most companies are reticent to move forward, but that means they continue to limit themselves.

    “You’re trying to find and keep the best talent, but if your view of skills is cloudy, you can’t see the stars,” Deal said.

    How HR Leaders Are Forwarding the Skills Agenda

    The right tools and intelligence can clarify skills gaps and availability, which enables skills-driven workforce planning, talent development, succession planning, and career pathing. The result? Engaged employees who are learning and developing their careers, as well as faster, more effective talent acquisition practices.

    Here’s how three organizations are using Phenom skills technology to lay the foundation for pivoting to a skills-based talent approach:

    A leading U.S. commercial bank formed just before the pandemic changed the nature of work. In the aftermath, they noticed a change in the types of job roles the company needed to fill — as well as a change in the conversation around talent acquisition.

    “Previously, we were looking for experiences to be able to go in those jobs, but now all of a sudden we were looking for jobs that didn’t have a lot of shelf life in the market, and the pipeline wasn’t there, so we really needed to adjust to skills,” said their HR executive.

    They prioritized the following use cases:

    • Workforce planning. Leaders wanted to know the company’s capacity and capabilities to get work done and deliver differently. The team developed a workforce framework and a skills assessment framework that helps identify business needs, skills gaps, and the best way to fill them — whether through hiring, training, partnering, or re-thinking the work all together.

    • Candidate and employee experience. The organization implemented Phenom Candidate Experience and Employee Experience — including an instrumental Talent Marketplace which has seen great success, with 50% participation and 80,000 skill attachments.

    An international bank ensures that all employees have the opportunity to succeed. This corporate value sparked the company’s journey toward becoming a skills-first organization, said their Head of Digital Transformation.

    With 22,000 employees, the bank was challenged to reach everyone on an individual level. “We need to have a system in place that’s extremely scalable, intelligent enough to identify unique employee departments, and it has to be hyper-personalized… and that’s what Phenom gave us.”

    They implemented Phenom Employee Experience in January 2024. Within a few short months, they counted 50% participation in platform usage and more than 250,000 skills amassed in the system.

    The way Justin Foster of mortgage insurance and real estate services company Radian Group sees it, resumes and education fall short of telling a candidate’s whole story. “What does skills nirvana look like for me? I would love to get rid of the CV altogether, and with it, any non-essential degree requirements,” he said. Instead, he envisions helping employees develop a skills portfolio that shows the projects they’ve worked on, problems they’ve solved, and challenges they’ve overcome to get where they are today.

    Fortunately, top leadership at Radian shares Foster’s perspective on prioritizing skills. The company is currently building itself out as a skills-based organization. According to Foster, some of their most successful tactics have been:

    • Implementing skills-based assessments to use in the hiring process, specifically for IT roles

    • Identifying small pockets within the organization to successfully pilot a skills-based career path rather than building out methodologies and frameworks

    How can organizations get started on their skills journey?

    The consensus? Although it may seem overwhelming, just start somewhere. “The skills-based organization, the skills-based culture, is not something in the future. It’s right now,” Foster said.

    Here’s top advice from all three panelists:

    • Gather input from organization leaders and prioritize accordingly. “Listen to the business,” the HR executive advised. “Really see where skills can unlock value in helping drive results, future planning, or attraction of the right talent.” From there, set goals and prioritize to assemble the right resources, teams, and technology to make those use cases successful.

    • Create a job architecture. This can give you a starting point to identify job role structure, tasks, responsibilities, competencies, and skills. “If you don’t have a really good job architecture set up, it’s going to be difficult for you to start your skills journey,” Foster said.

    • Be willing to experiment and iterate. “Start in HR, start with what you know,” Foster said, especially if critical job roles or an organization-wide business case have yet to be identified. “Be your own guinea pig.”

    • Identify your organization’s overarching objectives. Talent acquisition, people management, and workforce management are all examples of possible goals. “Establish what you want to achieve [through a skills-based approach], and then link it back to the business objectives,” said the Head of Digital Transformation.

    • Share and solicit insight from your network. “Everybody’s on this journey. Reach out, connect with others on what their best practices are … those rules may not necessarily apply to you, but it can give you a lot of courage,” said the Head of Digital Transformation. “And while you’re at it, have fun.”

    What Phenom Skills Data Tells Us

    Here are a few stats from the Phenom skills database, which compiles more than a decade’s worth of curated data from trusted public sources as well as customer research:

    Here are a few stats from the Phenom skills database, which compiles more than a decade’s worth of curated data from trusted public sources as well as customer research.

    Want the scoop on trending skills and job roles? Download the State of Skills 2024 Market Data Report.

    If you’re ready to get a personalized view of your organization’s job roles, skills, and progressions, request a complimentary Skills Snapshot here.

    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. 

    Get the latest talent experience insights delivered to your inbox.

    Sign up to the Phenom email list for weekly updates!


    © 2024 Phenom People, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

    • ANA
    • CSA logo
    • IAF
    • ISO
    • ISO
    • ISO
    • ISO
    • ANAB