Maggie BleharJune 30,2023
Topics: Employee Experience

What Every Company Needs to Know About Workforce Intelligence

Talent management and people managers are carefully evaluating the most effective ways to upskill, evolve, and retain their employees. But too often, they lack the data and context needed to inform the decisions that guide employees — and the organization — to long-term success.

Enter workforce intelligence and employee relationship management. Phenom’s Jesus Latorre-Socas, Lead Project Manager, reveals how this power combo provides the insights and data leaders need to maximize employee productivity, growth, and fulfillment throughout the workplace.

View this episode of Talent Experience Live here, or catch the highlights below.

What is employee relationship management?

An employee relationship management tool is like a CRM, but for internal talent, Latorre-Socas said. It’s a central digital repository that captures data on employee aspirations (e.g., career goals and interests) and communications with managers. It also stores information on the breakdown of departments, business units, and managerial units.

By utilizing employee relationship management, talent managers can take appropriate actions such as initiating upskilling projects to enhance job performance or facilitating career advancements.

What is workforce intelligence and why do you need it?

Workforce Intelligence is an advanced analytics tool that ties in as a function within the employee relationship management tool. “It’s really taking all of that great organizational data and giving you intelligence around things that you can take action on. Things that can help you support your manager teams, help you support your employees, or even help support your recruitment team from a workforce planning perspective,” Latorre-Socas said.

The main dashboard of the workforce intelligence tool presents hiring trends, churn rate, retention risks, and high performers. Talent management can further analyze this data in three key areas:

  1. Dynamic role architecture: analyze skills, competencies, and additional contexts to determine which employees are available to upskill or reskill into future roles

  2. Comprehensive employee profiles: identify tenure, performance, growth trajectory, fit for openings and progressions, and options for succession planning

  3. Skills intelligence: determine where gaps and training needs exist, provide visibility into endorsed skills, self-reported skills, open jobs and roles that require skills, and the learning opportunities, mentors, and gig projects available to address gaps

How does leveraging workforce intelligence give organizations a competitive advantage?

Similar to conducting research before making a consumer purchase, workforce intelligence helps guide both talent management and talent acquisition decisions by surfacing valuable information that would otherwise not be readily available.

It gives decision-makers context and data insights to illuminate whether an open role could be filled internally rather than “buying” external talent. For example, workforce intelligence data can identify employees who have been accessing learning on skills required for upcoming job openings. It can also reveal staff members who have been in roles longer than the historical average, and may be ready for a promotion.

“You need data to understand how to take action,” Latorre-Socas said. “Workforce intelligence is extremely crucial to any talent lifecycle, and even more crucial for employees.”

With employee data stored in an employee relationship management tool rather than multiple spreadsheets or resumes — along with a workforce intelligence tool that quickly sifts through and analyzes that data — HR leaders gain valuable insight to foster employee development and mobility across the company.

“If you think about re-shifting, or re-shuffling, those are big keywords these days. How do you find that talent internally? That’s all part of the intelligence happening,” Latorre-Socas said.

Related reading: 3 Reasons to Invest in a Talent Marketplace Platform

How can employee relationship management and workforce intelligence help managers develop employees?

For innovative employers, workforce intelligence and employee relationship management are edging out the traditional approach to internal mobility — where an employee is limited to waiting for a position to open up, and then applying with fingers crossed.

Instead, talent leaders can use workforce intelligence to track employee activities (e.g., participation in skills development opportunities, training courses, or mentorship programs), self-selection of skills and interests, and expression of aspirations and career goals.

“Tracking activities is a crucial intake for us from a Phenom perspective to bring forward even more intelligence,” Latorre-Socas said. “If you’re not collecting that transparency from your employees, you’re not giving them the space to be able to bring their true selves to work.”

The other side of the equation? Talent managers not only have a view of internally available skills and hiring potential, they can easily identify employees who are interested in taking their career in a certain direction.

They can also identify skills gaps employees will need to bridge before reaching those career goals. Workforce intelligence can match employees to relevant development opportunities (e.g., projects, mentoring, coaching, learning courses), helping organizations cultivate internal talent — and ultimately retention.

How can workforce intelligence be used to grow leaders?

There are two potential avenues to pursue when it comes to using these technologies to cultivate leaders, Latorre-Socas explained: coaching or mentorship.

Coaching tends to be more informal. It often takes the form of a one-off conversation to discuss skill sets and aspirations — think a coffee break, lunch, or even a drink after work.

Mentorship programs, a natural follow-up to coaching, are more formal. They involve matching an employee to a senior colleague to build leadership skills in preparation for taking the next step in their career. Mentorships provide two-way value, building skills for both mentees and mentors.

But mentorship programs often suffer a common problem, according to Latorre-Socas: lack of visibility. “The biggest problem around mentorship programs is they’re not easily accessible to the organization. They’re siloed to a certain department, to certain individuals. There’s no clear way to identify who’s a mentor in the organization.”

That’s where intelligent workforce management comes in, serving to connect employees with others who would make good coaches and bring transparency to mentorship opportunities. “Let’s open the floodgates, let employees find mentors, find coaching opportunities, find informal connections,” Latorre-Socas said.

Related reading: The Art of Mentoring: Why It’s Important and How It Improves the Employee Experience

How are organizations benefiting from employee relationship management and workforce intelligence?

Transparency. Flexibility. These are the most commonly cited benefits of using tools like Phenom Employee Relationship Management and Phenom Workforce Intelligence, Latorre-Socas said. This technology also gives employers a competitive edge with job candidates by showing that they’re invested in employee growth.

Phenom helps clients achieve strong workforce intelligence by unifying data from various systems within TA and talent management (e.g., a CRM and Talent Marketplace). When those systems can “talk” to each other, it opens the window to visibility on organization-wide talent and skill needs.

Importantly, these tools help leaders prioritize action by illuminating levels of engagement throughout the organization. Is there a department or business unit where employees rarely take advantage of development opportunities? HR leaders can intervene to try to increase engagement and head off attrition. Workforce intelligence benefits managers as end users, too, giving them talking points on aspirations and skill development to guide one-on-ones.

How can these tools optimize succession and workforce planning?

Employee relationship management and workforce intelligence tools play a vital role in workforce planning, tracking data points on several key elements:

  • Where there are flight risks

  • Employees who are over-tenured and may be ready to make a move

  • Self-selected career pathing preferences and interests of employees

  • Skills inventory of both inbound and outbound skills

  • Manager feedback on employees who would make a good fit for upcoming job openings

These are all insights leaders can use in succession planning, before looking externally.

“If you don’t have a system that aggregates all of this data into a single place, you’re going to struggle to do things like succession planning and workforce planning. Understand how you can help managers be the best manager they can be to promote that internal talent,” Latorre-Socas said.

Related resource: 6 Elements for a Meaningful Employee Experience

It’s time to get personal

Workforce intelligence and employee relationship management technology are becoming crucial to providing the personalized journey that today’s employees want. Employers need to be able to tailor the experience based on interests and activities much the same way that recruitment marketing is personalized to job candidates.

“It’s not enough to just capture bullet points from employees,” Latorre-Socas said. “It has to be intelligence you’re taking in.”

Learn how to create a stand-out employee experience. Check out the Definitive Guide to 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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