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How CHROs View The Talent Organization Of The Future (Spark Live 2024)

What is the role of a Human Resources leader today? How is technology reshaping that role, and changing the types of organizations the HR team is helping to build? 

Larry Emond, Senior Partner at Modern Executive Solutions, spoke to a panel of CHROs at Spark Live, to hear their goals for 2024… and the new secrets to success in this function. 

Discover what’s top of mind for Sam Hammock, EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer, Verizon; Caroline Heller, Senior Managing Director, Global Head of HR, BlackRock; and Jacqui Canney, Chief People Officer, ServiceNow. 

AI is changing work, and therefore HR 👀

The panelists discussed how the wider use of AI inside organizations has created new challenges for HR teams, including training, enablement and governance.  

And it’s clearly popular (“contagious”, as one panelist said): 85% of the workforce at BlackRock has used their Microsoft AI copilot (to do things like summarize information, create content, search for documents, and analyze data); similarly, Verizon has rolled out Gemini for Google Workspace for their employees.

The panel talked about the large-scale training initiatives they have had to manage, as they get staff more comfortable and conversant with AI.  

But how are these CHROs and their organizations ensuring they are rolling out AI in a safe and compliant manner? Everyone talked about “walled gardens” or “freedom in a framework” – that is, employees can experiment and innovate with these exciting new tools, within certain parameters. Sam Hammock talked about people being “bold and innovative, but not reckless”. 

chro panel

AI is bringing efficiencies to HR teams 📈

Of course, AI is also helping HR professionals with their own day-to-day work, taking over some routine tasks – and freeing them up to focus on more strategic initiatives. 

“We can actually open up capacity within the HR function to do what we’ve talked about for years, where we are strategic advisors, coaches, counselors across the business… and this is where I think AI is going to change it drastically for HR.” – Sam Hammock 

The use of generative AI, such as chatbots, is becoming widespread – particularly for HR queries. The panel discussed the importance of good knowledge management, to ensure AI can be applied to your internal data and then provide answers on quite difficult HR-related questions. 

The upshot? Either people can get the information they need without bothering HR professionals – and get an elevated experience – or the HR team themselves can find and provide good answers, faster than ever. A better experience for everyone, if done well. 

Data and technology are making skills-based transformation feasible – finally 🙏

Shifting to a skills-based approach for talent management, which includes understanding current skills, predicting future skill needs, and filling gaps through targeted development, has been talked about for years. So is it happening? The panel agreed that it was now easier than ever to “operationalize” skills, and use skills data at scale – thanks, again, to AI

“The difference now is that there is a tech enablement opportunity that we didn’t have before.” – Jacqui Canney

Just under 95% of all the jobs that Verizon had posted in the last 24 months required no degree, and skills data is being used to inform location strategies at BlackRock: “Where are the best places to find talent for those skills, and how do we build centers of excellence or capability centers that are skill-based?” – Caroline Heller

Skills data was also seen as the foundation for a sensible AI governance framework – a trusted “language” that the whole organization can “talk” in terms of HR and talent requirements. 

“We talk a lot about a skills intelligence system right now and what that means…. if you could use generative AI in your skills system, that can be pretty awesome.” – Jacqui Canney 

Panelists talked about rethinking their job architectures, with a clearer focus on skills, and then being able to make better decisions about how to access the skills they need: whether to “build, buy, borrow or bot” (automate certain tasks). 

They talked about how AI can help validate skills and proficiency levels, and the potential for assessing candidates and identifying upskilling needs – a game-changer for HR. 

“I actually think that AI is going to help us move the skill thing forward in a far better, more progressive way than we were already on the journey to get to.” – Sam Hammock

“Human” traits matter more than ever 😍

Every panelist noted that building the right human capital strategy is their number one priority, and – despite the focus on technology – there would still be a special place for “humans” in the workforce of the future. 

“Relying on a technology strategy without a human capital strategy will not be the recipe to win.” – Jacqui Canney

Jacqui Canney talked about how the “pillars” for her HR team in 2024 involve being people-led (human-centered), as well as data-driven, and AI-powered. Bringing AI into the mix has unlocked productivity and creativity, she said, but people were more important than ever. 

AI is a clear enabler of better experiences: for customers, for employees, for members of the HR teams – and it also lets managers have better conversations with their team members, so they can find opportunities for growth, and follow their aspirations. 

“I think the single biggest lever you have to change how people experience the workplace is through the engagement they have with their managers.” – Caroline Heller

Talking about executive search in particular, Sam Hammock noted that “in the future, that understanding of the human, their leadership capabilities, the people skills they have” were going to be the key thing talent teams would be looking for… but “I can’t count on tech to be able to find those people for me.” 

You also need to find people with the ability to learn and adapt, “because the job’s going to change while they’re in it.”

🌟 Watch the on-demand recording of this session, and find more Spark Live content here