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Boosting HR Tech ROI With An Agile Approach To Change Management

HR leaders are facing a host of challenges – tightening budgets, talent shortages, and ongoing economic uncertainty. Having the right tools in your tech stack to enable agile recruitment, reskilling, and redeployment of talent will be critical to helping your organization succeed during a difficult market.

We recently hosted a webinar featuring subject matter experts Hiten Sheth, Director, Research and Advisory, HR Tech & Transformation at Gartner and Katie Molteni Muir, Senior Manager, Talent Sourcing at Johnson & Johnson, and hosted by Matt Fenton, VP Advisory at Beamery

These speakers came together to discuss how leading organizations like Gartner and Johnson & Johnson are approaching upskilling, reskilling, and redeploying talent to build more agile workforces.

If you missed the webinar, here’s a summary of the key takeaways.

How leading organizations are reskilling and redeploying talent

Every year, Gartner looks at what business leaders are most concerned about. Hiten shared that, for 2023, CHROs’ top concerns are talent retention and attraction, development and talent management.

In fact, 40% of the problems that CHROs cited in this Gartner study revolved around skills in some way – skills shortages, reskilling efforts, or gaining a better understanding of the skills they have versus the skills they will need in the future.

How can Talent and HR leaders build an agile workforce for the future while balancing these changing skills needs and a decreasing talent supply?

Embrace dynamic skills building

Hiten shared that one of the first steps a lot of organizations take on the journey to talent agility is deploying a predictive approach to hiring for skills. In theory, this makes sense (if you can accurately predict the skills you will need in the future). But what if your skills predictions are wrong? The half-life of skills is rapidly decreasing, meaning that skills are becoming outdated faster than ever before. And companies who hire reactively may be hiring for the right skills once the need arises, but they are filling those roles entirely too slowly to be truly effective.

How can you be sure that you have the right skills you need at any given time? The answer is a dynamic, skills-based approach. There are three main parts to a dynamic skills-based strategy. The first is sensing when skills need to be shifted, and then doing so in real time. For this to be possible, you need to have dynamic skills data that allows you to view the skills you have within your organization at any given moment.

The second part is developing skills at the time you need them. This involves on-the-job training and reskilling your employees to fill the skills gaps as they arise. The key is to have the right tools to identify these opportunities internally, and to facilitate the learning and development programs your talent needs.

And the third aspect is making skills-related decisions dynamically. Not only can skills data help organizations understand what skills employees are developing over time, but it can also give employees a preview of where the organization is headed (and, possibly, where their career could progress along the way).

With the help of explainable AI, all of this can be achieved. AI can help businesses infer emerging skills in the context of your organization, and can provide insights with more granularity than other traditional methods.

Rethink where you find talent

Next, Hiten spoke about the importance of redeploying talent. For organizations who are already thinking about how to redeploy talent to where they are needed most, an internal Talent Marketplace is a good option.

He shared that an AI-driven Talent Marketplace is much more than an internal job board. These tools can also match employees to learning and development opportunities and create personalized career paths based on existing skills and potential.

It’s important to acknowledge that although a Talent Marketplace is a great tool for empowering employees on their career journeys, business leaders must take that a step further and look at the Talent Marketplace as a strategic tool. Especially when paired with a Talent CRM, a Talent Marketplace can be used as a powerful tool to help with workforce planning.

With these kinds of tools, AI does the heavy lifting for you. With unified skills data, business leaders can see the full picture of the skills they have internally – making it much easier to redeploy internal talent to other areas of the business as needs arise.

Enable talent agility

Hiten spoke about how business leaders can infuse agility into their talent management processes. He used the example of a cheetah. What makes cheetahs good hunters? In fact, it’s not their speed – it’s their agility. Cheetahs can decelerate faster than they can accelerate. And just like cheetahs, agility is necessary for the survival of businesses too.

There are two key pieces that are required to achieve talent agility: a strong talent supply, and the right skills. Your talent supply includes candidates in your CRM, existing employees, contractors or freelancers, and alumni. And for skills, you must consider both the hard and soft skills your organization needs to thrive.

The road to talent agility is a journey, and it may seem daunting if you aren’t sure where to start. Hiten shared a helpful framework that outlines what to prioritize in the first 12 months of your journey. In the first 30 days, the top priorities should be to identify where your skills data is stored and challenging others to think about skills differently. These discussions allow teams to agree on common definitions around skills, which will be key in the coming months.

In the first 90 days, focus on identifying the stakeholders in the business who are the most hungry for skills data. This is also the time to add AI-enabled skills capabilities into your HR tech strategy. And, within the first 12 months, pilot those AI skills capabilities and invest in labor market insights to gain a better understanding of skills in general, but also to learn more about the skills you have internally, and how scarce they are in the market.

There is still a lot of work to be done after you’ve accomplished these things, but it’s important to lay the foundation for a strong, skills-based, agile talent strategy that will help you build a workforce for the future.

A case study from Johnson & Johnson

Matt Fenton introduced Katie Molteni Muir, Senior Manager, Talent Sourcing at Johnson & Johnson, to get her perspective on implementing the right technology partner to help your organization achieve talent agility.

Katie shared that, at Johnson & Johnson, they are competing for talent that has highly specialized skills. So having the right tools to attract, engage and retain talent with those key skills is crucial to their success.

Johnson & Johnson tried a few different platforms in the past, but ultimately, they needed a full Talent Lifecycle Management solution that would help them across the entire talent lifecycle, from proactive sourcing, to engaging candidates, employees and alumni, and much more. They also needed a solution that was customizable and could integrate with the rest of their tech stack – one that could grow with their team.

How did Johnson & Johnson approach change management and implementation?

Leading up to Johnson & Johnson’s launch with Beamery, they had to assemble stakeholders across several teams including talent acquisition, digital enablement, data privacy, legal, and more. With this group, they were able to collaborate and build a change management plan.

All of that planning led to a successful launch, but the work was not over. Next, the team had to roll out the new tool internally, and train employees on how to use it well. This involved training sessions for end-users, as well as additional training sessions for the trainers, to ensure they would be able to effectively teach others. Johnson & Johnson also ran an ‘adoption challenge’ when they first rolled out the new tool, to help incentivize employees to learn it quickly.

What did Johnson & Johnson learn from initial rollout and adoption challenges?

Despite the adoption contest, and the strong adoption rates at the beginning of the process, Johnson & Johnson soon noticed adoption rates were dropping, and that something needed to change.

Katie shared that the Talent Acquisition team went from one extreme to the next – from one tool that had very little functionality, to another that has lots of bells and whistles – meaning there was a lot to learn. So they collected feedback from people who were using the platform day to day, and took that information and used it to build out a second iteration of the roll out plan.

The implementation team discovered that the users of the Beamery CRM needed a clear ‘why’ for using this product, and they were also lacking a clear approach to measurement, which made it difficult to show value.

Johnson & Johnson is now in their third iteration of the process, and after lots of listening, training, and more internal stakeholder feedback, they are seeing positive results. The company also recently went through some significant changes, and certain areas of the business grew significantly (i.e. their Sourcing department). The implementation team saw this as an opportunity to train up new Beamery users as they come into the organization, which has proved to be effective.

And in the same vein, it was crucial for Johnson & Johnson to measure the success of the Sourcing team (for example), to really show the value of using the product, which has helped increase adoption throughout the rest of the talent function.

Embracing organizational change is not easy – for either side – those who are implementing the change, and those who are adapting to it. But the process can be made easier by collaborating with partners and stakeholders, listening to end users, and applying the feedback to best meet the needs of your team. This goes for any kind of organizational change, not just when you are rolling out a new product in your tech stack.

Advice to other leaders

Matt asked Katie if she had any advice for other leaders who are either currently implementing a new product or are preparing for a large process change like this.

Katie said that, for her, the most important thing was to understand the product as much as possible. People were looking to her to answer questions and to find out more information, and in order to confidently lead the team, she needed to educate herself, so she could help educate others.

It was also vital for her to understand the limits of her own knowledge, so that she could recognize when it was time to bring in a partner from Beamery to help answer further questions and share more information to help get the team up and running.

A key takeaway from the webinar was that in order to successfully build an agile workforce, you must build a strong foundation of skills, and you must choose the right technology partner to help you every step of the way.

Watch the webinar on demand to see the closing Q&A session, where these leaders discussed topics like ChatGPT, AI, overcoming budget constraints, and more.