Peter Ramjug pivoted from a wire service journalism career to writing and strategizing executive communications. He helps thought leaders gather their thoughts.
Peter RamjugFebruary 13, 2024
Topics: Customer Stories

The 2024 Talent Trends HR Should Keep an Eye on

HR analysts are boldly stamping 2024 as the year of AI and skills. The thinking goes that more organizations will shift from stasis to carefully dipping a toe in the water before deploying AI and skills ontologies.

But some companies — having implemented AI well before ChatGPT exploded on the scene — are already ahead and are seeing a noticeable improvement in their talent strategies.

Take Radian for example. The Pennsylvania-based mortgage and real estate industry company is no johnny-come-lately when it comes to assessing talent needs. The company launched a strategic People Plan in 2021 that includes key performance indicators for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and employee development and engagement.

Now, in 2024, Radian is pivoting to focus on three areas — stabilization, utilization and rationalization to ensure it is providing the right program to the right areas of the business, according to Radian Group's Senior Vice President of People Solutions, Jen Bombardier.

“We continue to attract, develop, and retain the right talent that we need to succeed today,” Bombardier said in Phenom's 2024 Talent Trends That Will Shape HR webinar. “But then we also want that talent to grow with us as the business adapts to the external market and all that’s changing around us.”

Watch the entire live discussion on 2024 Talent Trends on demand

Companies Still Need Talent

The labor market remains strong and talent continues to be hard to come by years after the pandemic upended hiring. It was at that time when Bombardier, then the VP of Talent Acquisition, led Radian in creating an agile, technology-enabled recruiting process for high-volume hiring across a national talent pool.

Despite the challenges of recruiting in a remote environment, Radian onboarded over 575 new employees in 2020. Under her leadership, the company also saw a 17.2% increase in applications, leveraged chatbot technologies to help process 260 unique lead intakes, and accelerated the time to hire by 8.3 days. Bombardier also led the charge to reinvent the talent experience with virtual onboarding enhancements and the launch of an alumni network.

The company currently uses Phenom’s Candidate Experience, Recruiter Experience and Manager Experience.

Years later, Bombardier’s area of responsibility expanded to include people technology and analytics, payroll, and people operations and programs. One of the things she’s focused on in 2024: seeing the silver lining in life’s (and the talent market's) ups and downs.

“How I can take two things out of the day that are really positive and focus on those and continue that forward?”

Bombardier was joined on the webinar by Justin Foster, Radian’s SVP of People Experience. His goals for 2024: Don’t sweat the small stuff, and harness the power of generative AI for efficiency.

Together, Bombardier and Foster shared insights into AI and other trends impacting the world of HR. 

Trend #1: Skills-forward hiring and retention strategies.

The skills discussion at Radian in 2023 started out as part of an internal journey and focus on career pathing. That journey continues, and HR looked at career pathing in a way that would be timely and relevant not only today, but in the years to come.

“As the labor market shifts in technology and AI becomes more prevalent in the workplace, we decided we needed to take a step back and start to ground ourselves in skills and how skills relate to roles and how people can advance their career from there,” said Bombardier.

Companies that embrace skills-based hiring are removing unwarranted restrictions that widen the talent pool, noted Foster. Radian, for one, has started forgoing unnecessary degree requirements.

Instead, they’re leveraging skills-based IT assessments and are hiring more neurodiverse talent through a partnership with CAI.

“What I'd love to do is ditch the CV altogether,” admitted Foster, whose passion for diversity strategies runs deep. “I think we're seeing an erosion of the paper ceiling, and I'm excited about it.”

What does he mean by the paper ceiling? More than 70 million workers in the United States don't have a college degree — which means half of the workforce isn't getting a deserved look at their skills and lived experience. 

While most companies, including Radian, aren’t abandoning resumes just yet, the trend toward skills-based hiring is changing how candidates present their qualifications on their CVs so that their skills are more easily discoverable by AI. 

Trend #2: Automated recruiting processes and Gen AI will prove their value.

With plenty of intelligent tools already under its belt, Radian plans to spend 2024 maximizing them. “It's not necessarily about changing the tools we're using, but getting more focused on ensuring the right content is there,” said Bombardier.

While paramount to all organizations, content creation is a pain point for many — especially busy HR departments without teams of dedicated resources for internal and external recruitment marketing. 

“Generative AI is becoming unavoidable and it's best to understand and leverage that technology rather than shy away from it,” added Foster. “I like to say that Radian is going slow to go fast.” And automation plays a key role in that process. 

“We're fortunate that in the Phenom platform, we can see what people are interacting with, especially from a chatbot perspective,” Bombardier said.

“Candidates are also able to get the information they want, how they want it, when they want it,” said Bombardier. “They can apply directly through the chatbot or they can choose to follow the more traditional route through their job search.”

And it’s not just external candidates who are benefitting from this streamlined yet omni-channel approach. 

Radian spent 2023 doubling down on enhancing their employee experience so people could get information when and where they needed it. “It’s right at their fingertips versus them having to wait back for a response from a team member,” said Bombardier. 

The company continues to build and strengthen that content to make it relevant to individuals’ journeys and personalized for their needs. Bombardier added that automation is also allowing their HR team to dive deeper and focus on other strategic ways to positively impact the employee experience.

Radian doesn’t plan to change any tools in 2024, but will get more focused on content creation.  “We're fortunate in the Phenom tool that we can see what people are interacting with from a chatbot perspective,” Bombardier said.

The company is taking a go-slow approach, however, to generative AI as it considers how to protect employee and customer data. “Generative AI is becoming unavoidable and it's best to understand and leverage that technology rather than shy away from it,” said Foster. “I like to say that Radian is going slow to go fast.”

Trend #3: Companies will prioritize data connectivity and normalization.

With all of the new tools and technologies coming onto the market, a strong foundation to build a tech stack is a must. If an organization can’t bridge its foundation, it loses the ability to connect datasets, programs and experiences for employees, according to Bombardier. 

“So you have to take a phased approach to really understand what's most beneficial to the business and not get too far ahead of yourself,” she said. Skills were a prime example of that, she added.

“Garbage in, garbage out. So you have to take your time to build that meaningful and well connected foundation before you start to add layers to it.”

Radian’s most important data sets that will show progress toward goals for 2024 are KPIs that came out of the People Plan mentioned earlier. They include:

  • Succession planning

  • Employee engagement

  • Turnover

  • Diverse interviewing pools.

Trend #4: Ethical AI companies will reign.

Radian is focused on working with companies that can effectively articulate their ethical use standards and the validity of their tools, said Foster. With only a presidential executive order offering guidance at the federal level, Radian is preparing for a patchwork of laws from states.

He predicts that there are bound to be bad actors out there, so HR teams should partner closely with their information security teams and their providers. “Just like we're finding ways to be better, faster, smarter with AI, so are bad actors in this space and we need to stay vigilant.”

Foster's advice for 2024: Remain cautiously optimistic. Reiterate to internal security teams the importance of protecting candidate, employee and customer data. Radian is planning to explore ways to work with AI in several ways:

  • Creating interview guides in seconds based on job descriptions and then customizing the guides

  • Summarizing resumes for recruiters

  • Writing intro messages to candidates

When it comes to AI, “there’s a lot of opportunity,” Foster said. “The trend here really is – What is going to make your recruiters focus on the relationship side of the human transaction, which is recruiting.” That's the part that no AI will be able to replace — that special conversation that the recruiter has with candidates to close the deal.

“Whatever we do in 2024 and beyond, it will be about keeping the process human, warm and engaging, because that's what sets us apart from other companies looking for the same talent,” he continued.

Trend #5: AI can help actualize mental health benefits.

Last year was a tough one for the housing market with high interest rates tamping down home purchases. Still, Radian maintained a high employee engagement score. And that was less tied to what the company did than what it didn’t do.

“What we try not to do is engage or embark on any overly onerous action planning,” explained Foster. Instead, the company is staying the course with what works, such as flexibility with where and how people work, and top-tier benefits.

There’s even a role for Gen AI in employee wellness. By generating personalized care plans and matching people with the right provider — along with explanations for each recommendation — AI can help companies actualize the mental health benefits they’re offering with speed and agility. 

“As we continue down this path of testing generative AI, we have to do so with an eye toward change management — really building awareness and desire for our employees, making sure they have the knowledge and ability to use it effectively and ethically.”

Employees shouldn't assume they will be losing their jobs to AI, Foster said, using a popular narrative from the 1990s when Automated Teller Machines were thought to replace human tellers in bank branches.

“Everybody assumed at that time, including some bank managers, that they (ATMs) were going to eliminate the teller job, but they didn't. In fact, in 2000, not only had teller jobs increased, but they had been growing at a bit faster than the global labor force as a whole.”

His point: ATMs were not made to destroy the teller, and he sees Gen similarly.

How will these five trends impact your organization?

It’s OK not to have answers yet, but here's something to remember. A hundred years ago, people were asked for their predictions for 2024. And one of the top ones was that people would be working out of their houses.

“Doubtless in the future, we shall be able to sign our checks by the rapid transmission of motion; we shall be able to trace criminals, send out their fingerprints, and carry on very many classes of business which, at present, require our bodily attention,” British Scientist Archibold Low wrote in his 1924 book, “Wireless Possibilities.” 

Eerily prescient for a century in the making. Perhaps the question we should really be asking ourselves — What do we predict for 2124? 

Two ways to make this year successful for your teams and your business:

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