5 ways to unlock the value of people with intelligent workflows

By | 6 minute read | November 13, 2020

IBM recently interviewed 165 organizations to understand how they view talent management given disruptions in the market. The IBM Intelligent Workflows for Talent Management report details the findings and shares insights.

With recent market changes and disruptions, organizations need a workforce with digital skills and innovative processes to respond to both customers’ and employees’ evolving needs. Organizations with a flexible workforce, in terms of both strategies and skills, find themselves well positioned to adapt to market trends and customer expectations.

What if you reimagined the way work gets done, as a fluid and connected experience?  Intelligent workflows enable employees and processes to thrive at the intersection of skills, data and technology.

Today, as organizations adapt and respond to disruption, business leaders face a tremendous opportunity with intelligent workflows to change the way they operate – where and how work gets done, with real-time, personalized insight, based on company-owned and third-party data. Leveraging this model, teams accelerate and expand digital initiatives to transform the way they create value.

By prioritizing talent management, businesses build the foundation to formalize processes created during disruption. These processes then enable companies to build a workforce with the tools and skills to respond to the current market and business landscape.

According to the report, two-thirds of organizations currently use or plan to invest in intelligent workflows for talent management during the next 12 months. Additionally, half of companies aggressively using digital technology have already invested in intelligent workflows for talent management. Companies that delay adopting intelligent workflows for talent management will likely lag behind competitors in terms of both acquiring and retaining customers and employees.

Organizations typically see the following benefits when adopting intelligent workflows for talent management:

1. Digital increases people productivity

With recent disruptions adding extra steps to many company processes, productivity has become an even higher priority for many organizations. Because more changes are still likely to occur in the market and across operations, organizations are creating flexible workforce strategies. Eighty-two percent of respondents reported that their organization is focusing on aligning their workforce strategy with business and cost-reduction priorities. By improving productivity, businesses often realize decreased expenses and higher revenue.

Talent management ensures that employees gain the skills required to do their jobs more effectively, and companies experience fewer issues and disruptions due to poor hiring decisions. For organizations combining talent management with intelligent workflows, productivity increases throughout the hiring and talent management processes. Additionally, employees working for organizations proactively using both strategies are more productive in their tasks and projects. Seventy-four percent of companies using both talent management strategies and intelligent workflows reported increases in productivity.

2. Improved people retention 

Organizations continue to face unprecedented change as the world watches how they adapt and respond to the evolving conditions. Successful leaders remain focused on what matters most – their people – and inspiring a workforce resilient and ready for the future. Organizations taking a proactive approach to employee retention eliminate increased expenses for hiring, loss of institutional knowledge and disruption for customers. Successful talent management strategies enable businesses to proactively identify employees at risk of leaving and provide appropriate interventions, which 41% of companies cited as a top benefit of talent management. Defined career paths combined with a focus on internal mobility also contribute to higher retention rates, as noted by surveyed companies.

By creating intelligent workflows with a human-centric approach to adopt practices and culture shifts to plan and deliver workforce engagement, productivity, and business results, organizations realize even higher retention rates – 74% of companies aggressively using digital technology report significantly increased investments in talent management and human-centric design. The combined use of systems and data for preventing attrition and identifying employees for promotion improves the effectiveness of these efforts.

3. Empowering a changing workforce

Organizations are reimagining work and where work gets done, so employees can perform in the most productive way to deliver their work. Organizations must change not only how they hire, train and progress people, but the tools to empower people to succeed in this new environment. It’s essential to elevate the work and skills of people and teams.

Of the organizations surveyed, 85% reported an increased pace of change for empowering a remote workforce due to disruption. With many companies either staying in a remote work or hybrid model for the near future, leaders should incorporate opportunities for improvement gleaned in recent months and create intelligent workflows that support these new ways of working. The role of leadership is key.  Successful leaders will understand that it  is vital to engage in continuous learning and growth and leverage predictive analytics to identify new leadership talent.

4. Identifying and reducing skills gaps

Market changes have focused talent management largely on immediate impact needs, such as aligning a flexible workforce strategy and skills. Organizations need to reassess what skills and competencies their people need now to support the business and build them quickly. Rapid learning, at all layers of the organization, remains even more critical to business resiliency and growth.

For many organizations, proactively identifying these gaps is increasingly a cornerstone of effective talent management. Companies cite the greatest benefit talent management offers as a proactive approach to identifying potential skill gaps, addressing a top challenge. With recent disruptions, 80% of companies are currently assessing and addressing workforce skills. By using data and systems to create intelligent workflows, organizations have the tools to identify what skills are needed both today and in the future. Intelligent workflows then enable talent management to assess the deficiencies of these skills in the current workforce and create a plan for either adding new team members or helping employees grow their skill sets.

5. Improved people experiences

While companies often focus on the processes used to ensure a skilled and effective workforce, organizations are also prioritizing employee experience, especially in terms of creating a talent management strategy. Companies overlooking people experiences risk lower retention and decreased productivity. Designing and implementing intelligent workflows organizations that center on improving experience and taking both a granular and a big-picture view of how work gets done drives higher engagement.

Employees using intelligent workflows experience a consistent set of processes throughout all part of their work, including human resource and daily work tasks. Because employees are both empowered and more productive, companies typically see a higher retention rate. Customers satisfaction also increases as engaged employees are more likely to provide high quality service and support.

Creating intelligent workflows

Organizations typically start with a defined area, such as talent management, to deploy intelligent workflows. After implementation, expect to experience immediate benefits and begin adding new processes. Because talent management both directly and indirectly impacts every aspect of the business, many organizations find talent management a logical and effective starting point for intelligent workflows.

More than half of organizations currently using intelligent workflows plan to increase their investment in the technology in the near future. According to the report, companies aggressively using digital technologies are more likely to significantly increase their investments in intelligent workflows. By proactively focusing on designing intelligent workflows for talent management, organizations can lead the disruption of their industry. Intelligent workflows provide the road map for recovering from recent disruptions while also preparing for new directions and future growth.

It’s time to rethink what matters most for the health of our organizations and workforces. This entails empowering employees to invest in their own resilience, aided by technology, allowing them to seamlessly align with workstreams and drive better outcomes for customers.

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