5 ways data is helping businesses address the talent deficit

Global businesses are facing a skills shortage. Employment rates in some of the world’s largest markets are at record highs. In the UK, employment is at its highest since records began over 40 years ago, with more than 76% of Britain’s working population in employment. The US also sees its highest-ever employment figure at 60%. This creates a highly competitive environment for businesses seeking to attract the best talent -the majority of businesses report that it takes 12 weeks or longer to fill vacancies. The race to recruit and retain talent will become even more intense by 2030, says researcher, as the demand for talent outstrips supply, costing the economy trillions of dollars in unrealised revenue.

Fortunately, businesses now have access to tools which meet these challenges. Faced with the need to find innovative new ways to attract and retain the talent they need to deliver growth, businesses are turning to data to help them succeed.

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Here are five key ways data is transforming talent acquisition across the entire management process:

  1. Accurate forecasting: as people analytics have become more sophisticated, businesses can forecast and plan for gaps across the business. Advanced talent management systems generate predictive data that has a major positive impact on planning. The data generated by this software and systems provides visibility into specific skills gaps, turnover rates and succession planning. Organisations can map this against consumer behaviour modelling programmes which identify trends and patterns in buyer behavior across a business. Think of a retailer studying sales figures to plan additional resource during peaks within the holiday season. With this level of detail, organisations can manage talent acquisition on a proactive rather than a reactive level. Proactivity in talent acquisition is a vital strategy for a company’s growth trajectory and for delivering excellence in customer experience.
  2. Highlighting gaps in diversity: diversity and inclusion has risen to the top of the corporate agenda. In a company with a robust inclusion strategy, it’s proven that employees are more engaged, innovation improves, collaboration is better, and individuals are happier, and businesses outperform their competitors. Candidates now actively seek out business with strong diversity and inclusion strategies. People analytics can highlight any gaps or biases so they can be remedied in talent acquisition and through internal mobility across an organisation.
  3. Shifting the foundational skill sets required: as businesses rely on data to build a strong future, specific skills are required to interpret, apply and manage this data. The analysis of data generated by people, places and things is a goldmine of invaluable insight. Studies have found quantifiable benefits in those businesses which make decisions based on data. Roles which may previously have been largely creative – marketing roles, for example – now require more analytical skills as professionals elicit patterns of behaviour and propensity to buy based on data. Product teams use design-thinking and problem-solving techniques built on data, to respond swiftly to customer demand and generate client value. Planning teams map data to visualise and manage risk. As more data is generated, through mobile and web, via the Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet, the more experts we need to interpret the data and ‘translate’ it, so it can be applied across different business functions.
  4. Filling gaps faster and accelerating processes: Businesses must respond rapidly to changing market conditions if they are to remain competitive. As they continue to transform, they need operational efficiency to react quickly. As consumers, we all have experience of our favourite stores and restaurants growing rapidly but struggling to recruit the right staff, letting down their customers in the process. Disruptive technologies with data at their core are redefining recruitment, helping organisations address this. One of these technologies is AI. For high-volume talent acquisition projects, such as recruiting candidates to staff new sites, AI-based programmes can be built into the pre-selection process and transform the candidate’s journey. Recruiting for large-scale projects when there are many vacancies to fill places huge pressure on talent acquisition teams. AI can accelerate the process. An AI-based chatbot, for example, can ask candidates relevant questions to narrow down their search, based on location and preferred hours. With natural language capacity, it can respond to the data entered and moves candidates along the process in a friendly tone. It can even send an Outlook meeting invitation. This makes it far less complex to recruit at scale, and it reduces time-to-fill vacancies too.
  5. Improving the employee experience: once on board, employee data analytics help to visualize the entire employee experience from recruitment to retirement. The data provides visibility into the key drivers for retention. It delivers insight which can impact the way the organisation interacts with employees so that steps can be taken to influence and improve the employee experience. For example, data analytics can help in identifying and defining the most effective communication channels for each employee, boosting engagement and understanding of business strategies and goals. Ultimately, a great employee experience delivers a great client experience. A report by Bersin from Deloitte found those businesses using people analytics to support people and inform decision-making generate 82% higher three-year average profit than those businesses at lower stages of maturity in their adoption of people analytics.

With the right technology tools in place, businesses can optimise data and maximise their greatest asset – their people.

Written by Brigitte Van Den Houte, vice president, global talent management, Pitney Bowes

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