HR Tech Quick Hits: The power of AI in employee skills identification

As industries that were once clearly defined converge and their focuses become more complex—for example, GM was once a clearly defined car manufacturer and is now becoming a technology company, too—employers are looking at how internal skills need to also change to help keep their organizations ahead of the competition.

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“Retail store managers used to be clearly defined, but those skills profiles are changing quickly and it’s hard to keep up,” Kathi Enderes, senior vice president, research, at the Josh Bersin Company, said Wednesday during the HR Tech Conference. “That’s why we need AI.”

And as organizations look to grow post-pandemic, using technology to identify internal skills needed will be critical.

“The problem with large organizations is we don’t know what skills we have,” said Penelope Sur, vice president of talent at sports equipment retailer DICK’S Sporting Goods. “I’m the head of TA; I hate TA. Why is it I have to go out and hire outside when I have 50,000 humans in my house? I should have all the skillset I’ve ever dreamed of in my house.”

To capture that potential, employers need to be able to recognize what internal employees excel at, what they want to do and then help them get there, she added.

“Who matters the most in our organization to take us from a $15 billion to $25 billion company?” Sur asked. “The person who’s going to do that are the heads of our stores,” she said. “They have a pulse on our communities and employees. They are the heart and soul of our organization. If I wanted to upskill those guys, I need to upskill their ranks.”

In order to do that, DICK’S partnered with Eightfold AI to learn what skills employees have to ultimately better support store management and grow their stores.

“All those soft and hard skills aren’t digital but they’re skills my managers need to have to run their stores,” she added. “Upskilling isn’t about IT or tech and all those big words, but skilling them for the jobs of today.”

Number of the Day

Managers are in and out of an average of eight HR systems each day in an attempt to lead their teams, according to research conducted by cloud-based HCM solution provider ServiceNow. “They are spending all of this time in and out of these systems instead of concentrating on productivity and driving revenue,” said Gretchen Alarcon, vice president and general manager of HR service delivery for the vendor. ServiceNow won a 2022 Top HR Products award for its Manager Hub solution.

Betterworks expands

Performance management provider Betterworks announced at the HR Tech Conference the availability of new plug-ins for Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Excel and Google Workspace. This new integration aims to enable employees and managers to have “more meaningful conversations … including regular check-ins, goal progress updates, feedback and recognition,” according to a press statement. “Our Google Workspace and Microsoft integrations turn what used to be yearly chores into virtuous daily habits,” said Arnaud Grunwald, chief product officer at Betterworks.

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Eightfold in New York

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday that the state’s Department of Labor, in partnership with Eightfold AI, has opened its Virtual Career Center to all state residents, connecting them to 250,000 job openings. The free, online platform relies on Eightfold’s artificial intelligence to match a job seeker’s skills and experience with job opportunities, Hochul said in a news release. The tool helps users “connect directly with employers and upskill themselves,” said Eightfold President Kamal Ahluwalia. “Together, we’ve developed the Virtual Career Center, providing every New Yorker with the opportunity to attain family-sustaining, economy-boosting jobs.”


HRE editors Phil Albinus and Elizabeth Clarke contributed to this report.

Nick Otto
Nick Otto is HRE’s senior digital editor. He is a professional communicator with more than a decade of demonstrated accomplishments in newspaper and trade publishing. He has spent the past five years covering the employee benefits space and holds bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida. He can be reached at notto@lrp.com or follow him on twitter @Ottografs.

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