Workforces are evolving to become human+: each individual worker is empowered by their skillsets and knowledge plus a new, constantly growing set of capabilities made possible through technology. Now organizations must adapt the technology strategies that successfully created this tech-augmented workforce to support a new way of working in the post-digital age. This will help to unlock the potential of people to lead disruption that advances industry and society.

As we all know, digital technologies and analytics can amplify operational performance in many areas of a company; however, it’s the people who are using the technology that are primarily responsible for the company’s success. We call this Human+. Talented and adaptable “human+” workers—and the organizational culture they create together—make it possible for a company to pursue business transformation, deliver products and services, and drive innovation.

How do we move toward creating a Human+ workforce? How do we fill the challenges that may prevent people from channeling the full potential of their passion, purpose and performance? The answer is to bridge the divide between workers and the enterprise. We explore this idea in the "Human+ Worker" trend in the Accenture Technology Vision 2019, our annual tech trend report, entitled The Post-Digital Era Is Upon Us: Are you ready for what’s next?

Here’s what’s happening: Despite deep investments in digital technology to drive the business, many organizations still lag in areas to adequately support human+ employees, including hiring, promotion, training, employee engagement and knowledge management. To close the gap, companies need to implement talent strategies and solutions that maximize value for their people and the business. These investments could include adding artificial intelligence (AI), extended reality (XR), sentiment analysis and other technologies into human+ workforce processes that put people at the center, reshape work and make the organization more responsive.

As the Tech Vision trend describes, investments in training and new skilling at speed will better prepare workers for changing roles. Innovations in AI and XR, coupled with integrated learning platforms, will empower workers to participate in self-directed learning, while also giving businesses better insight into the needs and goals of their workforce. And new approaches to talent-finding and knowledge management will let companies capture the full potential of their human+ workers.

Switching to new talent-finding strategies
As an example, let’s look at how technology can improve hiring approaches to optimize the human+ workforce. As employee mobility increases and people move more frequently between roles, there are more potential paths for workers to explore. More career paths are also now created for businesses to identify, manage, support and fulfill. With this fast-paced rate of change talent-finding strategies are out of sync with the needs and capabilities of human+ workers.

Leading companies are changing this by using technology to innovate—moving away from reactive skills-based hiring toward assessing candidates based on capabilities and potential. As one example, Unilever has revamped its entry-level hiring process. Interested candidates begin with a screening process that includes a series of short games, designed to assess a person’s potential fit based on traits like memory, acceptance of risk, and whether the person is more likely to read contextual or emotional cues.

An AI-based tool reviews the results, eschewing traditional résumé-based evaluation in favor of optimizing for potential. There’s no “wrong” result; the trait profiles help Unilever better match candidates to open roles. Following an initial effort in North America, Unilever saw its applications-to-jobs numbers double within the first 90 days, and the average time to hire a candidate drop from four months to four weeks. The company later expanded the hiring approach and program to 68 countries.

Finding untapped talent internally
Companies can also adapt their technology strategies to seek out untapped talent in their internal human+ workers teams. Businesses have long sought to hire and promote from within, both to leverage

Case in point, as part of its talent transformation, Accenture debuted its “specialization at scale” program: with 469,000 employees, the company needed a robust and agile way to ensure that the right team, with the right skills, is ready at the right time to meet client needs and to spark innovation. Rather than having employees self-report on skills, artificial intelligence infers an employee’s skills and specializations. In pilot programs, employees confirmed that this new analytics engine identified their specializations correctly 93 percent of the time.

In such programs, transparency is key. Accenture employees receive information about how their specialization was derived, how the algorithms work and how to immediately update their specialization if they disagree. Areas of specialization, learning opportunities and advancement are also part of ongoing, real-time conversations that people participate in with their internal career counselors, helping them to remain relevant. Used responsibly, these new forms of workforce data can unlock people’s potential and drive greater value for both individuals and for the business.

Equalizing the investment in people
As these Human+ trend examples and others in our Tech Vision show, it’s the workforce who will drive your organization into the post-digital era. Whether for hiring, promotion, training, engagement or knowledge management, it’s time for companies to put significant investment into unlocking the potential of their human+ workforce as they’re putting into their digital transformation efforts.

To learn more about the Accenture Talent & Organization practice, visit our website. To learn more about the “Human+ Worker” IT trend, read the Accenture Technology Vision 2019 overview and trend highlights. 

Eva Sage-Gavin

Senior Managing Director – Talent & Organization / Human Potential

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