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The New Rules of Talent Intelligence (2): Remember Who Owns the Data

Data Privacy
Data Ethics

The New Rules of Talent Intelligence (2): Remember Who Owns the Data

Successful workers are no longer defined by their ability to hone one specific set of skills and apply it throughout a linear,...

6 Minutes Read

Successful workers are no longer defined by their ability to hone one specific set of skills and apply it throughout a linear, one-company career. Instead, the most successful workers are those with “liquid skills” – the ability to upskill, reskill and continuously hone existing capabilities. These workers accept that their current expertise could be outdated in the near future, and they will therefore continuously seek to acquire new, relevant skills.

In 21 More Jobs of the Future we describe the skills that ebb and flow as ‘emerging’ and ‘eroding’ – and these are (dis)appearing – churning - faster than ever before. This has led to a specific type of scaremongering, such as Oxford University suggesting 47% of jobs will disappear in the next 25 years. (We explain why that’s nonsense in our book, What to Do When Machines Do Everything).

‘What’s this got to do with data privacy?’ I hear you cry...

Skills data is one of the trickiest things for organisations to get a handle on and yet, in the context of fluid careers and liquid skills, it’s one of the most vital components of talent to understand. Talent Intelligence will be key to understanding and quantifying individual skillsets. This is one of the most highly anticipated aspects of the field. But before they can reap the rewards organisations have got to get the privacy concerns right, starting by respecting who owns the data.

It’s not surprising that a host of solutions are popping up in this space. Start-ups like Adepto aim to show you a single view of all the talent available: skills, experience, accreditations, preferences, goals, etc. LinkedIn has been the megalith in this space for a while, curating the Economic Graph, showcasing all of the data LinkedIn has to offer to map the global supply and demand of skills.

As the workforce moves around more and more (gig economy, portfolio careers – pick your favourite trend), the ability for a worker to take a quantifiable skills passport with them is vital, both for their employability as well as reliability for the prospective employer. Organisations must shift to a much more open mindset when it comes to talent – opening up skills data is the place to start.

The easiest way to do this is by making skills data portable. In our recent report “Every Move You Make: Privacy in the Age of the Algorithm,” we wrote about the importance of “portability:” the ability for consumers to download their data and take it with them. We believe the same is true for employees when it comes to their own data. Workers should be empowered to download their skills profile and take it to a potential new employer, as it constitutes an evidence-based aspect of their CV that provides proof of capability. AXA, for example, provides employees with a tool to create a profile of their skills. Employees are encouraged to use this tool to find new role opportunities both internally and externally.

Businesses also benefit, as recruiters are presented with an evidence-based summary of the authentic skillset of an individual, not one written by employees themselves, and endorsed by genuine colleagues, not friends and family. Job hunting apps like Jobr and Switch – sometimes described as “Tinder for jobs” – are prime examples of data-driven apps making the most of skills data. Rather than fear career fluidity, organizations can embrace it by steering themselves toward a similar mentality.

Start now by giving the data back to the rightful owner – the employee.


This blog is part of a series on Talent Intelligence and the Big Brother Burden.

In 2018 there was plenty of excitement surrounding the potential of People Analytics. We published our take in Talent Intelligence: Unlocking People Data to Redefine How Humans Need to Work. We believe that Talent Intelligence will be the secret to solving your biggest talent crises:

  • Finding and retaining top talent
  • Fostering productivity, performance and well-being; and diversity and inclusion
  • Driving agile, flexible attitudes toward human-to-human and human-to-machine collaboration that unlocks innovation

But before you can reap the rewards, there’s one big hurdle standing in your way: the Big Brother Burden. We break down the Big Brother Burden by laying out four golden rules for the ethical collection of employee data. Organizations have to play by these rules if they want Talent Intelligence efforts to stick.

In this blog series, due to popular demand, I’ll take you through these four golden rules in a bit more detail…

  1. Introducing The New Rules
  2. The New Ts&Cs: From Terms & Conditions to Transparency & Clarity. Make the “give-to-get” ratio clear and compelling.
  3. Remember Who Owns the Data. Portability counts. Employees own their data and have a right to download it and take it with them.
  4. Who’s Watching? Individual worker data should rarely be used and only when there’s a real business case for it. Otherwise, aggregate data to ensure anonymity.
  5. Only Ever If They Opt-In. Taking part in data collection in the workplace must always be optional, not mandated.

Dive in to get your data ducks in a row. Only then can you make the most of Talent Intelligence tactics.

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