The New Talent Economy
Anne Fulton, co-founder and CEO at Fuel50, hosted a masterclass at the HR and LD Inspired conference to discuss how career path transparency is creating a new talent economy. Anne shares insight into how career visibility can enable skills forecasting and a future-proofed talent pipeline.
Fuel50 is a talent experience platform dedicated to the career experience for employees. “Our passion is the future of your workforce: their individual futures with you, and the skills and capability within your organisation,” Anne says.
Working with some of the largest organisations in the world, Fuel50 helps to create an alignment between the goals and objectives of a business and those of their employees. “We think this is an increasingly important part of the learning experience for employees – that they can see a ‘why’ and a ‘where’,” Anne says. “Why am I here and where am I going? To us, that’s a really important part of the equation. We need to democratise the talent experience.”
With research suggesting that 50% of the workforce will be made up of Millennials by 2020, Anne believes organisations need to start thinking differently about talent.
“Millennials have some very clear career expectations,” Anne says. “It’s about transparency, it’s about fairness, it’s about acceleration, it’s about being able to use their talent and capability and make contributions in a meaningful way. It’s why a new power differential exists in talent management and talent systems today.”
Anne shares some PwC research that predicts four different worlds of work in 2030. “There are four forces driving new ways of thinking about the future of work,” she explains.
The Yellow World is where humans come first. The Red World is where organisations are increasingly innovation driven. The Green World is where organisations care, with meaningful work and social responsibility. Finally, the Blue World is where corporate is king.
Anne asks: “Which of those worlds would you say your organisation is driven by? Where do you think your organisation wants to be by 2030? Do you think there’s going to be a shift?”
Automation is creating a lot of fear for organisations and employees, with research showing that 30% of work could be displaced globally due by 2030. Anne reveals that in fact, 60% of roles will be impacted – but only in some activities.
“There’s a correction that needs to be made in our minds around the impact of automation,” Anne says. “The majority of roles are going to be impacted by automation in some way, but only 5% of roles are going to be impacted directly.”
It will become increasingly important for organisations to support their employees through automation, with a strategic advantage for those that do it well.
“Automation is going to affect most of us, but there is going to be a major impact for leaders around how they enable their people to cope with that increasing automation component of their job,” Anne says.
Research by CEB has shown that almost 66% of organisations believe they will face an internal skills shortage in the next 3-5 years.
“Thinking about the skills and skill readiness of your people is becoming increasingly important,” Anne explains. “We also know that skills anxiety can go both ways.”
Anne recalls a keynote presentation she gave to Walmart employees. “I was really shocked by the number of employees that were fearful that they didn’t have the skills for the future,” she says. “They knew it was coming at them, but they didn’t feel ready to be able to adapt and prepare themselves for this changing world. Skills anxiety is a real thing for employees.”
Anne explains how the careers landscape has been disrupted: “The old staircase where you had a promotion every two years – that went out last millennium. It no longer exists. It is not a reality today.”
Today’s career experience features much longer runs, particularly for Millennials joining the workforce. “It’s almost a flatline feeling to their career,” Anne adds. “When there is a vertical, because they haven’t had the steps that existed in the old world, there is often career derailment. People haven’t necessarily picked up the experiences, learning and preparation for that promotion.”
Fuel50 is helping organisations to design learning experiences for employees during the longer runs. “If we can do a good job of designing that, we can give an employee a sense of career acceleration and growth that’s trackable – it’s being recorded,” Anne says. “They’re seeing growth of their skills and capabilities and their preparation for the future.”
Anne believes skills and experiences are becoming the new career asset for employees to focus on. “We need to move away from job titles and think more about the learning and experiences for employees,” she says. “Careers are going to be rollercoasters. Employees are going to have to expect job change and skills change.”
Research shows that employees are very motivated when it comes to improving their skills, with 74% keen to develop new skills or retrain to prepare themselves for the future.
“When we look across the globe at skills that are in demand, it’s really surprising,” Anne says. “Innovation, global collaboration, flexibility and adaptability, leadership, creativity and problem solving – it’s softer skills that are still in demand.”
Fuel50 will flag the skills that are in demand within an organisation, so that employees know they are investing in skills that will benefit their current or future roles.
In 2017, Fuel50 carried out some research on career agility that revealed 86% of employees believe they have skills and talents that are not being used by their organisations.
“They’ve got more capability and it’s an untapped resource for your organisation,” Anne says. “We need to create the transparency to join the dots between the untapped skills and talents that your employees have, and the organisation needs.”
Anne discusses the key ways that Fuel50 is democratising talent. The first is giving power to employees and line leaders. “Some of the intelligence that typically sat only in HR around retention risks, skills forecasting and talent pipelines, we are increasingly putting that directly into the hands of line managers,” Anne says. “A line manager can see who may be a retention risk. There’s a new power game going on in the way that we’re thinking about talent systems.”
The second trend is skills transparency for both employees and the business, so that it is really clear within an organisation what skills are needed and what employees can do to work on that capability.
Fuel50 is also helping HR with robust workforce skills forecasting and analytics. “Imagine a world where you’ve got a beautiful asset base across your organisation – who’s got what capability, who’s got what untapped, who wants to go where,” Anne says. “It’s that kind of skills and workforce forecasting that we’re able to work on.”
Fuel50 believes there is a virtuous gain cycle in the link between workforce skills transformation and career pathing. “If you can give your employees career path transparency, they can see where they can go,” Anne explains. “They can look at what options exist for them across the organisation.”
Employees can engage with the Fuel50 system, with a talent and skills audit created for each person. This is then stored in a skills and assets base for the organisation.
“We’ve given employees a really powerful ‘why’ to engage with the system. That gives us workforce skills visibility,” Anne says. “Then that builds out your succession and talent pipelines, so you can see across the organisation who is ready, who has the capability, who may be an emerging talent for a particular need within your business.”
Nearly 42% of employees are demanding more transparency around their career path. “Sometimes talent decisions are made behind closed doors,” Anne says. “Somebody has been earmarked for a certain role and the whole thing happens before anyone else even knows about it. Employees are starting to get quite angry about that.”
Anne adds that Millennials expect a career experience like Google Maps: “I put in my current location, I put in my destination. What is my journey?”
Fuel50 believes in ‘the art of the possible’, providing employees with transparency in terms of their career journey and how they can achieve their goals.
“We also believe in anti silos,” Anne says. “You don’t have to just think within your own organisation, within your own team or function. We always throw in a wild card based on their interests and talents.”
Employees are provided with a list of their skills and capabilities, along with the areas that they need to improve. This can take them directly to learning assets, coaches or mentors that can help them develop. “We’re aiming to instantly turn it into action,” Anne says. “We’ll flag the in-demand skills for the organisation, so I invest in something that’s going to be a high payoff. It’s all about creating those learning journeys for employees.”
Delivering career path transparency to employees can dramatically impact retention metrics. “We’ve done some global analysis across a number of individuals over a three-year journey and looked at the retention patterns,” Anne says. “The more people are engaging with the career experience, the more likely they are to be retained.”
Organisations can view the analytics to see which employees are engaging with the system and help to determine who is ready for certain opportunities.
Anne discusses the traditional 9-box model for performance versus potential, where organisations would only focus on the employees in the top right box. “It was fit for purpose last decade when we had an abundant talent supply,” she says. “Today, we’re faced with a talent shortage and increased competition for talent. That model is not going to be as effective as it once was.”
Instead, Fuel50 developed a talent leverage model that displays performance versus passion. “This is a new world model where we’re thinking about talent in a really different way,” Anne says.
Giving managers the visibility of their employees’ talents allows them to give productive advice in terms of career development. More power is also given to HR, providing talent trends and analytics. “You view your pipelines and start to do some analysis on the skills and capability across the organisation, between what people want to learn and where the skills and learning gaps are,” Anne says. “You can start to mine the talent.”
Fuel50 aims to create a democratised world of talent where employees feel better off for taking a learning journey with an organisation. “With talent citizenship, your employees are engaged with you,” Anne says. “They’re motivated and you’re returning them to the talent economy in a better way.”
Check out Fuel50’s full masterclass workshop here.
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