Maggie BleharJanuary 25, 2024
Topics: Talent Experience

What is Workforce Intelligence and Why is it Important?

Last year, 60% of HR leaders identified “building critical skills and competencies” as their number one priority. After trends like Quiet Quitting and The Great Resignation left companies scrambling to hold on to talent, it’s no surprise that helping employees build their skills and evolve at their organization became a priority. However, in the same Gartner survey, 47% of those HR leaders also admitted that they didn’t know what skills gaps their employees had.

Thirty seven percent of skills requirements have changed in the average job over the last five years, with some brand new skills appearing, existing skills disappearing, and other skills shifting in necessity. How can organizations keep track of it all — and prioritize skill development?

Right now, every employee is poachable. Companies are competing for talent in all industries, and they know competitors are doing the same. Because of this, companies need to step up their retention efforts.

The answer to boosting employee retention is with workforce intelligence technology. If you’ve never heard of workforce intelligence, you’re not alone. Let’s dig deeper into what this technology is, why it’s important for talent management skills strategies, and how you can implement it at your own organization.

What is Workforce intelligence?

The way employees engage in the workforce has changed for good. They’re looking for transparency, recognition, growth opportunities, and a true culture. As a result, every organization is rethinking their talent retention and growth strategies, and workforce intelligence is the answer.

This technology uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyze employee data (like skills, experience, goals, gig work, etc.) and provide context to people managers and the talent management team that can help them drive talent mobility and career development throughout the organization. It also helps HR teams gain deeper insight into supply and demand, skills gaps, and succession plans by leveraging a dynamic skills architecture.

Find out How Workforce Intelligence is Redefining the Employee Experience in this Fosway report >

A dynamic skills architecture is automated technology that connects skills, roles, progressions, learning content, and people. This tech updates in real time so decision-making and gap analysis can help teams apply change effectively.

An effective workforce intelligence tool operates seamlessly in the background, ensuring the programs you’re using have a universal understanding of the data that’s available within your employee profiles. It connects employees, their managers, and HR teams using a common language built from data and interactions to deliver real-time skills, role, and progression insights for proactive retention and growth.

Let’s look at an example to better understand how workforce intelligence helps power and streamline user experiences.

Let’s say one of your employees has been in their career for a few years and feels ready to move internally. If you don’t already have a talent marketplace implemented to simplify the process of identifying and applying to internal roles, your organization is already blocking this potential movement from happening.

Quick definition: A talent marketplace is an internal employee portal that connects employees with opportunities — whether that’s a future role, a short-term gig or project, the perfect mentor, or a learning and development path.

If you do have a talent marketplace, can that same employee receive personalized recommendations for open roles or do they have to self-discover those roles? Does your technology tell them what skills are required for a given job and where they might have gaps?

Whether you answered yes or no to some of these questions, workforce intelligence is the next best step for you. Not only does it help employees in this way, but it can also:

  • Expose learning opportunities to employees

  • Keep employee skills information up to date

  • Present career pathing opportunities

  • Help with succession planning

  • Provide managers with tools for employee reviews

Workforce intelligence takes all of this into account, shortens implementation time, and keeps insights fresh by constantly learning from decisions made across the organization.

Related resource: Buyer’s Guide: Choosing a Talent Marketplace

How Workforce Intelligence Provides Detailed Skills Intelligence For Talent Management

When you know what skills your employees have, what skills gaps they have, and what skills are needed for their successful mobility within your organization, you’re on the right track toward future-proofing your workforce. This is skills intelligence in a nutshell. This data allows you to analyze where your employees are and where they want to go, and then build a strategy around this to help them with skills development and career pathing.

To obtain this information, however, you need a skills ontology — a correlation of employee skills to other skills and job titles that layers additional context through org structures, proficiencies, learning materials, completed gigs, succession plans, and more. A skills ontology, which is part of workforce intelligence, can delineate skills similarities and identify how closely related those similarities are. From there, it automatically creates logical groupings and helps managers and HR teams use that data to restructure current roles, create new roles, point employees in the direction of their next best role, and more.

Workforce intelligence technology takes skills intelligence data from the ontology and incorporates it into an overall action plan for talent management. Bringing managers into the loop to leverage workforce intelligence technology enhances talent management skills and gives them concise information about their team that summarizes employee strengths, areas of opportunity, potential interests, and activity. The ease of this tech helps generate buy-in and makes their lives easier in succession planning and overall talent retention.

In order for workforce intelligence technology to be effective, it needs to secure buy-in and usage from key stakeholders, including employees, managers, HR, and talent management.

Related reading: Demystifying Skill Ontologies: Your Roadmap to Clarity

Why Workforce Intelligence is Important for Talent Acquisition

Utilizing a personalized career site and CRM that is seamlessly connected to workforce intelligence, TA teams can attract a more suitable pool of candidates, expedite the identification of ideal talent, and guarantee the recruitment of individuals committed for the long term.

And skills are everywhere within an organization, especially for talent acquisition. Think:

  • Requisition creation and meetings: Hiring managers and recruiters need to know the role, expectations, required skills, and the ideal profile for the prospective hire to find the best fit for the job.

  • Candidate applications: Candidates list their skills, preferences, experience, location, and qualifications, so TA teams should be aware of the top skills applicants are listing when applying for jobs and target those in their searches.

  • Interviews and hiring decisions: When managers and recruiters interview and review candidates, they need to keep track of the skills that will help them make the most informed decision.

Workforce intelligence technology can automatically capture all of this information and more, allowing hiring managers and recruiters to feel comfortable knowing they’ve found the best person for the role.

Related reading: How Skills Technology Drives Talent Acquisition Excellence

Why HRIS Should Care About Skills

As companies increasingly prioritize skills for attracting, retaining, and nurturing talent, HRIS and HRIT teams need to assess how workforce intelligence technology aligns with their existing systems. Without integration, the abundance of data can become essentially ineffective or significantly more challenging to leverage.

To fully utilize workforce intelligence technology and skills data, HRIT teams must:

  • Balance their tech stack by implementing skills taxonomies or ontologies that are a part of their HRIS

  • Agree on a skills-forward strategy by aligning skills to roles and skills to employees, creating a solid dataset, and making sure employees are engaging with the data

Workforce Intelligence serves as the key for HRIT professionals aiming to provide a top-tier employee experience, encompassing not just succession planning, but also career pathing, upskilling, mentoring, gig work, team management, internal mobility, and more.

Read more here: How to Add Skills to Your HR Tech Stack

How to Implement Workforce Intelligence Technology

With workforce intelligence, you get a comprehensive, all-inclusive system that uses data to offer recommendations to all stakeholders: employees, managers, and your talent management team. It diminishes subjectivity and gets everyone on the same page when they evaluate skills that are available or missing across the company.

With Phenom Workforce Intelligence, you can ingest, standardize, and transform skills, jobs, and employee data into meaningful and actionable intelligence and insights. It helps you gain a deeper view of workforce supply and demand, skills gaps, and succession plans.

Implementing workforce intelligence technology isn’t difficult, but you should know where your company lies on the maturity scale to help you identify next steps. Have you already been implementing some aspects of workforce intelligence for a while, or are you just starting out in your journey? In the following chart, we outline each stage of talent management technology maturity to make it easier for you to take the best course of action.

In the evolving stage, the first step is to build a plan and get organizational buy-in to invest in and leverage a talent marketplace.

In the maturing stage, you’re utilizing your talent marketplace to put together an overview of skills in the organization, identifying where there are critical gaps and high-potential employees.

In the innovating stage, you’re ready to get your managers on board and put the power of data into their hands to make them more effective and retain talent.

In order to determine where you fall on the workforce intelligence maturity scale, you must assess whether you are in the evolving, maturing, or innovating stage. Then, you can determine which workforce intelligence technology is best for your organization.

To determine which stage you’re in (evolving, maturing, or innovating) and what your next best steps are, you can take our Skills Snapshot here. A Phenom expert will meet with you to discuss and analyze your current needs, then provide you with a personalized action plan to get there.

Achieving “Workforce Nirvana”

When we say “workforce nirvana”, we’re referring to a place where everyone in your company is utilizing workforce intelligence technology seamlessly to hire candidates faster, develop employees better, and retain them longer.

It may seem lofty — but it is attainable, and looks like this:

  • Managers are using it to guide discussions with employees about their career paths, learning and development opportunities, and succession plans.

  • Employees are using it to keep their skills profiles updated and are actively participating in upskilling opportunities without the prompting of their managers.

  • Talent acquisition is using it for strategic workforce planning to determine whether to source externally or internally.

  • HR is using it for strategic workforce planning, personalized development plans, and succession planning.

We also refer to this harmony as “talent agility.” It’s the ultimate goal: having the right talent in the right place at the right time to achieve the best results.

Related resource: Upskilling, Reskilling, and Evolving Your Talent with Workforce Intelligence

With workforce intelligence added to your toolkit, you’ll be well on your way to using an AI-powered analysis of employees’ skills and goals to help engage, develop, and retain them for the long haul.

To learn more about finding the right workforce intelligence technology for you, download our Workforce Intelligence Guide for an overview of how to build a skills-based deployment and adoption plan.

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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