The potential uses of AI in HR are growing rapidly, but many organizations are concerned their teams don’t have the skills needed to capitalize on them.

When Korn Ferry asked CEOs to name their biggest obstacles to integrating AI into their talent management systems, 40% cited a lack of AI-related skills inside their HR teams.

At the same time, many HR teams are shifting towards becoming a skills-based organization—one that can identify how individual capabilities, mindsets and skills can be put to work more effectively. And this is an area where AI has great potential.

At the HR + L&D Innovation & Tech Fest, which took place in November 2023 in Australia, AI dominated the two-day agenda.

“AI tools are changing very fast,” said Bryan Ackermann, Korn Ferry’s Head of AI Strategy & Transformation, at his breakfast keynote speech. “They may be easy to pick up, but they’re harder to master.”

But they can’t be ignored. Generative AI can analyze skills and capability data, as well as provide real-time performance feedback, coaching and development at scale. Uses for people and organizational performance continue to evolve, and now include writing job roles, real-time learning, content development, always-on engagement analytics, personalized feedback and more.

Nonetheless, Ackermann’s Tech Fest speech noted the need to separate hype from reality. For example, fully automated candidate matching might be possible one day, but there is still a need to find solutions to some significant challenges, such as the quality and consistency of applicant data.

Rethinking career progression

AI is emerging as a way to enable internal talent mobility in a more equitable and effective way. It can give HR leaders better visibility into the skills within their workforce, and employees the chance to explore different opportunities that could fit their goals and abilities.

This is critical since careers are no longer seen as purely a ladder to the top. They’re more like a connected web of paths, or a climbing wall where the next step could be across, down or up, depending on individual interests, skills and capabilities. And this makes talent mobility decisions a little more complex.

AI-based solutions to talent mobility couldn’t come at a better time, says Esther Colwill, the APAC President of Technology, Communications & Professional Services at Korn Ferry. At a Tech Fest panel on revolutionizing the workplace, Colwill said upskilling and reskilling is top of mind for clients. “We’re in a period of labor hoarding, so they need to combine talent acquisition with internal talent mobility,” she said. She added that Korn Ferry surveys also show that career development is number one for employee engagement and retention, followed by learning and development.

AI is emerging as a way to enable internal talent mobility in a more equitable and effective way.

Career development at scale

It may be in its infancy, but powerful new AI tools are emerging in the area of career development.

Korn Ferry’s AI-powered dynamic feedback expert Liv is one example of this emerging HR technology. Showcased live for the first time in Australia during Tech Fest, this AI avatar has the ability to engage with employees about their assessment feedback.

Liv can then guide them in using these insights for their individual development by providing actionable strategies tailored to specific work situations or relevant content in the learning management system.

Still, the technology only works if your organization has a robust work and career architecture—a framework that combines all your job, people and capabilities data in one place. This framework makes it easier to set individual goals for career progression, because what it takes to thrive in any given role is made clear across accountabilities, capabilities, and personal traits and drivers. Once you know what good looks like, you can bring it to life in a development experience like Liv that can be done at scale.

“We need to support less predictable career trajectories, and develop critical skills—at scale, and in a way that engages our workforce,” said Penny Lyford, Principal with Korn Ferry, during the demo.

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Leaning into a learning culture

The past few years have been a disruptive time for workforces globally, and there are more changes ahead. Empowering employees to feel in control of their career growth can help embed a culture of continual learning, which will sustain productivity and engagement through the next evolution of work.

As Ackermann noted, this means AI “is absolutely part of the employer value proposition.”

Learn more about how Korn Ferry’s cloud-based HR technology can help you transform for growth.