U.S. Army: Analytics to empower careers
The U.S. Army now uses data analytics to improve its workforce skills’ development and talent retention practices. For example, with the help of analytics, the Army streamlined its previously disparate human resources data to create an integrated jobs marketplace that “gives our personnel greater control of their careers, the ability to chart their own career trajectories, to set their goals, and to take a larger role in their development,” says Kristin Saling, Chief Analytics Officer at Army’s Talent Management Task Force. By strengthening its talent strategy, the Army improved its ability to recruit and retain the soldiers it needs to keep America safe.
Practice 3: Use technology to enable flexible work
Some organizations are expanding their use of automation to reduce the number of rote tasks that humans perform. In the process, organizations are enabling their workers to focus on more fulfilling, higher value tasks.
Unilever: Flex experiences
As the world locked down during COVID-19, Unilever, the consumer goods giant, saw its marketing, supply chain, logistics, and manufacturing divisions experience surging demand for household staples. At the same time, employees in other parts of the company were experiencing more down time than usual, as demand for their services slowed. In response, Unilever created “Flex Experiences”, an AI-powered talent management platform that connects employees with opportunities to build skills and work on different projects laterally across the company. Currently used by some 65,000 Unilever employees, the platform has helped the company unlock many thousands of hours per month in additional productivity from its workforce. The platform has also received a 95% endorsement rating by Unilever employees, who appreciate the opportunity to expand their skills.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Deploying AI to create higher-value work
For many years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has conducted an annual “Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses” to document workplace injuries at American companies. In the past, completing the survey was primarily a manual endeavor, one that required some 25,000 labor hours each year. In 2014, however, BLS began experimenting with machine learning (a type of AI) to help it code some of its survey data. By 2020, more than 85% of BLS’ survey data was coded using human-supervised machine learning. The result was not only improved survey accuracy, but also increased demand for human coders to oversee the AI and to resolve complex coding problems. To fill this demand, BLS focused on sourcing employees from within the organization who were willing to upskill. The win-win result: BLS employees enhanced their skills and had their “employability” needs met, while BLS enhanced the accuracy and efficiency of its data analysis and reporting.
Practice 4: Champion workers’ holistic well-being
Some organizations are continually strengthening and refining their well-being initiatives to reflect workers’ diverse, fast-changing needs.
Starbucks: Mental and social well-being
Starbucks has long been a leader in promoting the holistic well-being of its workers. The coffee chain’s Care@Work program, for instance, offers employees subsidized backup care for children and elderly parents. Its Caring Unites Partners Fund extends grants to employees who experience a financial crisis resulting from emergency events, such as an illness or the death of a family member. Increasingly, however, Starbucks has also focused on developing programs that support their employees’ mental and social needs. Its Partner Connection program, for example, provides generous stipends to employees to bond over after-work sports, clubs, and other activities. Employees are also
given paid time off to volunteer at designated nonprofits. In addition, Starbucks now
offers workers free access to a range of mental-health services—including in-person and remote therapy sessions, use of meditation and mindfulness apps, and
mental-health training for store managers.