Photo: Large Spanish companies are using their big data to discover biases in salaries and artificial intelligence to select new employees. Credit: fauxels | Pexels.

By José Manuel Blanco

The office is not what it used to be. Talks in front of the coffee machine have disappeared and remote meetings have become popular (some even propose virtual meetings with caffeine to replace the five-minute breaks). Now, questions about flexible payment are sent by email instead of going to the HR office. In the same way, perhaps an artificial intelligence knows better than we do the training we need for our employability.

Although in recent years new applications, tools or technologies have emerged to facilitate the work of talent management departments, the pandemic has accelerated the dynamics of thousands of companies and their Human Resources areas, which have seen this technological revolution as an opportunity to improve the way they hire and keep employees. Members of the Forbes Resources Human Council, a council for senior human resources executives, have predicted a number of unforeseen trends for the second half of 2020:

the renewal of technological systems such as collaborative tools, VPNs or technical infrastructure; a greater interest in social issues in the midst of a health crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement; and the improvement of the employee experience.

Technology and Talent Management

Bots, social networks and other types of software are already part of the day-to-day talent management. The Chief People Officer in Opinno, Blanca Gómez, predicts that in the coming months “companies will make divestments in spaces and investments in technology.”

Banco Santander, for example, was developing at the beginning of the year a project with artificial intelligence to pre-select candidates for new jobs. The global head of Training, Development and Talent of Banco Santander, Elisabetta Galli, said then: “Non-verbal face reading and neuro-linguistic programming can help detect which people are more or less aligned with your values or have the skills you need.”

Meanwhile, Banco Sabadell is analyzing its big data to visualize how many men and women are receiving a salary increase and how much, in order to break down any biases in those salaries. The director of Human Resources of the entity, Conchita Álvarez, summarizes it like this: “Decisions based on data make us better managers.”

Photo: Recruitment processes are being transformed with the help of technology. Credit: Tim Gouw | Pexels.

Digitally Training Talent

The Global Head of Human Resources at Banco Santander, Roberto Di Bernardini, explained that they use artificial intelligence to unite the learning interests of employees with available programs. This approach is shared by the Cultural Transformation area director of Opinno, Irene Martín, who explains that in the improvement of worker training “traditionally the Human Resources departments identified what trends there were, created the training programs, convened people and required them to take the programs.

This process has changed and now “the aim is for HR to be much more strategic and to identify what skills their employees need to develop in order to promote or to visualize what jobs will be needed in the future and what skills they need,” says Martín.

Currently, Opinno is working on several talent training projects. One of them is Young Leaders of Banco Santander. This initiative, developed digitally, “seeks to make visible the young talents of the bank with potential to be future managers,” explains Martín. Among the objectives are “to teach working methods in agile methodologies, to develop projects that respond to organizational challenges, to have visibility and to be participants in the bank's strategy. Young Leaders won one of the 2020 Learning Awards for the best people development program in the private sector.

Photo: The formation of talent has become one hundred percent digital, so that employees can follow it from wherever they want and with gamification. Credit: Charles Deluvio | Unsplash.

Among its projects, Opinno prepares digital content packages for companies, which upload them to their Learning Management Systems (LMS). The training has not stopped in these times of pandemic, it has even gone further, as Martín explains: “The nature of the projects we do has changed; they have become 100% digital, even in projects or companies that were not open to it. In fact, they were initially postponed and, as it has been seen that this did not seem to have a near end, we have made a change to digital.”

In this line, the Chief People Officer in Opinno, Blanca Gómez, recalls an article from the World Economic Forum, which in 2018 predicted that workers would need 101 days of learning to update themselves from that moment until 2022. “I don't even want to imagine how much that number of days has grown as a result of all the changes that have been precipitated,” she stresses. For her, the area of talent departments that will grow the most in the coming years is precisely that of learning and development: “The needs of upskilling and reskilling are among the priorities that countries, governments, companies and individuals should have.”

What Prospective Employees Ask For

Companies should not only be concerned with the company's current talent, but also with how to attract it. Gómez points out that the new generations have a number of non-negotiable demands, such as flexible working hours, the possibility of working remotely and disconnection at the end of the day and during weekends.

In order to prevent them from looking for other companies, innovative solutions are proposed such as “tailor suits”, which manage to attract quality talent with flexible options: “Several of our employees have a part-time dedication that they can combine with other occupations.” That is: they work only in the afternoons or some days of the week, for example.

Photo: New employees want to know what technology they will be working with and if there are any benefits such as flexible hours or digital switch-off. Credit: Annie Spratt | Unsplash.

In addition, following the confinement by COVID-19, remote working has changed the company's relationships with employees and may encourage the hiring of people who do not live near the physical office. Opinno's RESTART: 10 Post-COVID 19 Trends report warns that “remote working relationships, both work and business, will become increasingly common and natural, and will become a lever for attracting talent” and will open up options for living in locations other than the workplace.

“More and more people are becoming lifelong learners, because they understand that you are no longer useful when you stop learning, as [Microsoft CEO] Satya Nadella would say,” points out Gómez. Those responsible for talent management must take this into account in order to continue training their employees. Technology will perfect those department processes: ironically, artificial intelligence and data will improve the company's human talent.