The economic disruption of 2020 will continue to impact businesses in this era of COVID-19, now and in the year ahead. Ongoing uncertainty is expected, with quickly shifting customer priorities that create fluctuating talent demands. HR and Procurement leaders who prioritize workforce agility will be the ones to successfully navigate the new challenges that 2021 will bring, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is at the center of it all.
What is “workforce agility” and how do I achieve it?
Agility is defined as “the ability to move quickly and easily”. In the context of a company’s workforce, agility is marked by three characteristics: a wider view of talent, a strategic talent acquisition strategy and an engaged network of brand advocates.
Expanded talent visibility
Companies must cast a much wider net when it comes to workforce analytics. This includes not just employees, but also temporary resources and other known talent in your network (current candidates, former employees, interns, etc.). True agility requires real-time knowledge of not only who is working for you, but the status of your talent pipeline within key functional areas.
Beyond people, companies can also benefit from visibility into the skills your known talent resources bring to the table. In order to make the best possible talent decisions, it’s important to know whose skills are being under-utilized or who can be upskilled or reskilled to play a different role at your organization.
Diversified sources of talent
Being too reliant on any one method for acquiring talent can make your company vulnerable. There are a number of ways to diversify your talent sources beyond your internal recruiting team, by engaging third-parties like recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) providers for full-time talent, staffing firms for one-off temporary labor needs or even managed service providers (MSPs) to manage all your suppliers of external talent.
Another often overlooked source of talent is your own employees and extended network of talent. The positive statistics on referred talent are well documented, including higher ROI, retention rates, candidate quality and cultural fit. When designed and implemented with users in mind, referral programs can go a long way to increasing agility by making it easier to find talent quickly.
High talent engagement
If you need your workforce to move quickly and easily, as agility is defined, then it’s important that they’re actively engaged. This is more difficult for large organizations with complex workforces. As an organization grows, it’s easier for talent to become detached.
Employees and temporary resources should feel connected to your organization. There are many ways to encourage this, such as being open about company news and updates, focusing on employee development and involving them in important initiatives like talent acquisition via referral programs.
Checking the workforce agility box with AI-powered technology
“Across both permanent and contingent hiring, CHROs should take a fresh look at the range of tools, including assessments and platforms, that are making it easier to connect people to work.” – McKinsey & Company, July 27, 2020 article
At the heart of workforce agility is the ability to meet all talent needs quickly, efficiently and cost effectively. That’s exactly the promise of AI-powered technology, fostering levels of connection, collaboration and communication needed to unlock truly strategic talent agility.
Bringing your entire talent community together under one platform allows you to drive a deeper, more connected understanding of the status and potential of your workforce, both in aggregate and by any number of characteristics.
For example, tagging functionality helps you identify the specific skills and experience of individuals and then see trends and anomalies over time. Tracking the source of your talent allows you to see what percentage of your candidates are coming in via referrals, and at what skill and experience level. AI then goes to work, making recommendations that lead to more strategic talent acquisition decisions and investments.
If we know how powerful referrals can be, why aren’t more companies able to realize their potential? Manual referral programs actually get in the way of collaborating with employees to help fill your talent pipeline.
The right technology platform can help you create a space for true engagement and collaboration. An intuitive user experience enables a frictionless referral process, and smart workflows ensure candidates are funneled into the talent acquisition process appropriately. A key detriment of referral programs is that employees are often then left in the dark, but automated communication as the candidate moves through the hiring process keeps employees updated and engaged, and more likely to refer again.
Talent acquisition is personal. Unlike goods and services, procuring people requires thoughtful, empathetic, two-way communication. AI steps in with two powerful ways to ensure the experience is positive without sacrificing speed and hiring efficiency.
An AI-powered conversational bot can keep candidates engaged and informed during every step of the hiring process so your HR team can focus on higher-value communication efforts. Omni-channel communication is another example of AI at work, helping your team pick up conversations wherever they left off across every channel, from email and text to chat and voice. This functionality ensures consistency for candidates that deepens their connection to your brand and provides efficiency for your hiring team.
Learn more about how to differentiate your employment brand experience in our COVID-19 era of work.
Branded talent communities are a powerful example of AI at work. They allow you to see your workforce in a new way, and drive deeper connections between the processes and programs that keep your talent networks engaged and growing. Schedule a demo to see how WorkLLama’s built-in AI technology can enable the workforce agility you need to weather the business challenges coming in the year ahead.