The next big challenge for HR? Its own digital skills gap
The HR industry is grappling with a significant digital skills gap. That’s according to a recent Global Leadership Survey of more than 28,000 business leaders, conducted by DDI, Ernst & Young and The Conference Board.
This survey reports that HR lags behind other professional groups in terms of digital skills – the ability to operate in a highly digital environment and use data to guide business decisions. And this digital skills gap is affecting the way organizations perceive the efficacy of their HR departments. For example, the Global Leadership Survey also notes that only 11% of business leaders trust HR to use data to anticipate and help them fill their talent needs. That’s down from 20% just three years ago.
So how can HR change the perception?
So HR has a skills gap…what’s the big deal? In fact, what department isn’t struggling to build the skills necessary to keep up with today’s pace of change? Just like marketing has to upskill to keep pace with emerging “martech”, and IT has to reskill to address new cyber security threats, so too does HR have to build new skills to improve the efficacy of hiring, training, culture and retention.
The important takeaway here is that when HR overcomes this skills gap, it has the opportunity to expand its role, gain credibility and improve the efficacy of its department. To this end, the creators of the Global Leadership Survey wrote an article for last week’s Harvard Business Review (HBR) that provided suggestions for HR departments to improve their “digital acumen and data skills”. These included recommendations like:
- Forging internal partnerships with other internal teams already adept at using data and digital tools to drive the departments forward.
- Using compelling visuals to “tell the story” of HR data and better influence key stakeholders
- Employing planning models to make predictions about the type and quantity of future leaders that the organization will need to achieve KPIs and its long-term strategic plan
But the suggestion that we think has the greatest potential to shift the current perception and empower HR to seize the opportunity in front of them is the notion that HR leaders should map employee analytics to business outcomes – connecting dots between the strengths/weaknesses of employees and the performance of the organization. This data not only gives HR a better understanding of the skills and attributes of their workforce, it also equips HR to make more data-informed hiring decisions and develop new areas of emphasis in employee development and organizational leadership.
“By collecting data on employee skills and experience and tying it to business outcomes, HR can highlight key areas of risk and opportunity for the company.” – HBR
And when HR is armed with clear, outcomes-focused data, the whole department gains internal credibility and leadership secures their “seat at the table”.
Workforce analytics: shifting the paradigm
This all sounds good, but gathering thoughtful and actionable insights into the knowledge, behavior, attitudes and predispositions of a workforce will require that HR undergo a paradigm shift in how it thinks about employee data and the tools used to capture it.
It can’t be “analytics as usual”.
This means that systems that only provide employee training progress and/or grade-based or pass/fail performance data won’t cut it. Neither will post-training and development surveys, which are used by roughly 50% of organizations to evaluate the efficacy of development programs. While surveys can be important, valuable tools, they’re too simplistic to tell the whole story of employee knowledge and proficiency.
Even many of the existing adaptive learning platforms on the market today – arguable the technologies that offer the most comprehensive data set around employee knowledge and skills – are largely unable to offer insights into a workforce’s behavior, predict outcomes or clearly tie employee learning to KPIs.
How to move beyond “analytics as usual” to analytics as opportunity
The best way for HR to move beyond “analytics as usual” is to embrace AI-powered training and development technologies. These tools not only support a comprehensive understanding of the entire workforce, they also make actionable predictions, offer behavioral analysis and identify systemic issues at work within an organization.
For example, our Adaptive 3.0 learning platform leverages AI and machine learning to:
- Give clear, concise employee data – Our administrator data dashboards focus on three key points: “who, where and why” – who’s struggling, where are the struggling and why are they having difficulty. This helps HR quickly identify those who need more training and “all stars” who might serve as coaches and skills ambassadors. It also gives HR an accurate picture of their workforce’s skills and knowledge, so they can hire against organizational skill gaps and better predict what roles they might fill in the future.
- Predict employee application – Our machine learning algorithms analyze a wealth of employee data points and application level assessments to accurately predict whether an employee will be able to apply their knowledge and skills on the job. This helps HR tie employee knowledge and skills to performance and productivity objectives. It can also help HR assess whether or not an employee is the right hire for a given position and provides insights to make more effective hires in the future.
- Analyze employee behavior – Our BKM (Behavioral & Knowledge Mapping), uses both behavioral input and performance data to determine confident mastery of skills. Additionally, through BKM we can analyze user behavior during talent and development sessions and better understand the employee’s state of mind. It all comes down to the choices that employees make. Our system allows employees to control various aspects of their experience. For example:
Employees can choose how they want to engage with the content through our multimodal feature
Employees can choose how they want to receive feedback through the show/hide hint option
Employees can select to receive memory boosters
Employees get prompts when they’re performing poorly that remind them to revisit the Read and/or Watch, and they can choose whether or not to follow these prompts
Employees see a learner dashboard with a “Pathway to Mastery” that allows them to quickly review and address weaknesses, if they so choose
And each of these choices yields a treasure trove of insights into the motivations and behaviors of employees – much more so than learning programs that funnel people through a pre-set pathway. HR can use these insights to seek out systemic behavioral issues that contribute to poor business outcomes – things like employee confidence, engagement, trust and autonomy.
And our analytics are perfect for people with a wide range of digital and data skills. Our dashboards are easy to access, easy to read and easy to share. And just because our technology uses cutting edge AI doesn’t mean that it’s digitally burdensome. In fact, HR professionals will never need the help of a data scientist to interpret Fulcrum’s analytics (although we have them on staff to lend a hand just in case).
AI-powered technologies are the solution for HR departments hoping to jump the digital skills gap and realize the potential of their department when it’s informed by rich, actionable data. These tools can give HR a richer view of their people’s knowledge, skills and characteristics. They also create a clear line of sight between a workforce’s skills and an organization’s objectives, between the abilities of the employees and the needs of the company.
For a quick tour of Fulcrum’s platform, or how our AI-powered analytics make it easier for HR departments to tie employee data to business outcomes, let’s connect.