next five years

Advanced HR technology is essential to win the next five years

Your business needs to come out of the next five years of business upheaval and transformation a winner. If only usual cliches were enough to make that happen: work harder than your competitor. Execute. Don’t get distracted. Double down on what works.

But, no. Doing all those things will no longer be enough.

Here’s why. There are tremendous ways in which companies are using human-resources technology to position themselves to adapt and win.

Spending months hiring each person is no longer acceptable. Often companies can spend three months filling a role. It can of course go on much longer. Business is moving at too fast a pace to leave jobs open that long. It means poor customer service and lost sales. We’ve all experienced being put on hold for too long by short-staffed companies, or talking to a customer-service representative who was new and poorly trained. It can mean you, the consumer, take your business elsewhere.

In many cases, there are plenty of people available to fill the role that was open, and many of those people are already known by the company doing the hiring. They are your current employees. They are your past employees. They are your contingent employees looking for full-time work. They are your past applicants.

In the past, there was no good technology to match all of these people to open roles. Companies didn’t even bother trying to search their human resources and recruiting systems, because those searches came up mostly empty. That has changed. Artificial intelligence can look at the skills and potential of each person in your network and match them to current roles. It can even tell you the skills your past applicants and past employees have added in recent years, by enriching people’s profiles with publicly available data. And, it can do this in seconds. The hundreds of thousands of past applicants no longer need to go to waste.

A Mumbai telecom company we work with adopted AI for its hiring, and improved the time it takes to hire someone by 31 percent. On average, recruiters saved four to six hours weekly.

Workforces can’t be managed like they were prior. There has been a rise in the use of contingent workers. Google, for example, has a roughly 40 percent contingent workforce. But the competition for talent is so fierce now that you cannot continue to manage 40 percent of their workforce differently from the rest of it.

Businesses don’t need to ignore contingent workers anymore. AI can now be used to manage contingent workers the way “regular” employees are managed. Employers can view profiles of everyone in their contingent talent pipeline. AI can automatically refresh those profiles over time as those contingent employers add new skills and experiences. Companies can use contingent workers multiple times instead of losing track of them. They can tap into their contingent-work database to see who’s interested in a full-time, longer-term job.

We can’t ignore groups of people anymore. Too many people are going un-hired because of no fault of their own. This results in people saying there is a “labor shortage,” when really they’re just not considering all possibilities.

A great example is people who did not go to college or did not go to what are considered top colleges, for financial reasons. These job-seekers may have every bit the potential of the next person, but because of degree requirements, their job options are more limited. When these degree requirements are unnecessary, it’s a terrible shame and a terrible thing for underrepresented groups.

We also can’t ignore diversity once people are hired. At this point, it’s all about “inclusion” and “belonging.” Changing the way you hire and manage people is critical. Are people getting mentors because of who they know? Do they get assigned the cool, interesting work because their friend who worked with them previously put them on the assignment? Did they get promoted because the boss’s boss likes them? Or, are you using AI technology that can match your employees to people, projects, and jobs based on their skills, giving everyone a fair shot? This technology to level the playing field is now here. It’s up to us to use it.

We’ve got to rethink our attitudes about talent and skills. We recently worked with a medical-device company going through a reorganization. Thousands of people were at risk of losing jobs. Like most every company now, business is just changing fast and skills needs are changing fast, with IBM saying technical skills now have a half life of 2 ½ years. The medical-device company was hiring people at the same time as it was letting some go. The company used AI to better understand the skills in its workforce, and how the “adjacent skills” of employees make them very capable of taking on new internal roles. AI unveils these adjacent skills; if you know a certain computer language, for example, there are other languages you’re likely to be able to pick up quickly. The company saved hundreds of jobs through redeployment.

These are just a few of many examples of the way advanced AI technology is being used to improve diversity, hiring time, and workforce management. This is a technology that wasn’t available in the past, partly because we didn’t have the volume of data then on people and their careers. It is available now, though, and it is essential, not optional, for business success over the next five years.

The article has been written by Ashutosh Garg, Co-Founder and CEO, eightfold.ai

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