How to recruit, build and nurture a smarter workforce – everything you need to know


If your workforce is central to your business why not make its analysis central too?

This is an excerpt from our e-guide, WORKFORCE ANALYTICS – How data can transform your business and the people in it, produced in partnership with IBM

Finding and keeping talent is a top priority for any business. Whether you’re a salmon farmer in the Scottish highlands or a surfboard maker in Cornwall – your business is your workforce. No man is an island.

And we have a large workforce in the UK, around 5.2 million employees in fact. That’s one single giant workforce, but a multitude of different strengths, weaknesses and capabilities. Now think: When did you last sit down and examine who you employ and why?

Most likely, it was the last time you lost a promising colleague to a competitor, or the last time you made a brilliant new recruit. Perhaps it was in view of a new product or service you’re developing, and the provisions needed to staff that development.

Either way, how equipped did you feel throughout the process? How confident were you that you couldn’t have done more to keep your colleague from jumping ship? That your new employee really is the right person for the job? That the new product you’ve been so carefully working on will flourish under the leadership of those you’ve brought in?

According to a recent study of 342 chief human resources officers, not very. In IBM’s report, Unlock the people equation, it’s revealed that less than 16% of companies use data to make predictions and take action on future workforce issues.

Building a smarter workforce, then, is about understanding the power of data; how to harness it to build confidence so you can take action on workforce issues. After all, if your workforce is central to your business why not make its analysis central too?


Attracting the right candidates to the right roles through precision and science is the dream scenario for any HR executive or hiring manager. But it doesn’t need to be a dream. By drawing upon behavioural and scientific insights, IBM has developed an array of tools to help employers make informed decisions at every stage in the hiring process.

From the very beginning, employment-branding tools help businesses articulate their story both internally and externally, helping them attract talent and raise the business profile. Meanwhile, hard to reach talent pools that are passive and hidden can be accessed with the aid of tailored strategies designed to locate and source unknown employee hotspots.

And once these promising candidates have been identified, cognitive and behavioural assessments specifically devised for measuring suitability and potential are available for employers to match candidates to roles. 


Connecting the power of a highly engaged and fully enabled workforce is critical to the performance of any organisation. And there’s no reason why leaders should do this alone. From performance management tools designed to help managers identify and nurture top talent, to tailored modules focussed on streamlining the talent pipeline, there’s a wealth of support available to leaders. 

Workforce analytics play an important part for learning and development solutions too. New technologies and services provide employers with the opportunities needed for aligning learning strategies with overall business strategies – with dramatic results.


An engaged workforce is an optimised workforce. But with a flexible workforce on the move it can be hard to integrate communications effectively – with seemingly endless strands occurring concurrently. That’s why IBM has gone beyond connecting computers and smart phones.

Products like IBM Sametime and IBM Verse use social collaboration through instant messaging, online meetings, voice, video and data to help integrate these real-time social communications into business environments. Seamlessly joining up the conversations, joining up the dots and joining up the operations.

In short, cloud-based collaboration tools help workforces to, well, collaborate better – from anywhere. Whether it’s sharing information, finding expertise, reading blogs, bookmarking web pages, engaging with external communities, booking team spaces, accessing content management tools, joining online meetings, using audio and video chats, aligning calendars or simply sending an email, colleagues can work together better.


Recognising and rewarding success plays a crucial role in keeping employees motivated, satisfied and supported. By measuring and quantifying performance, employers can determine accurately and fairly how their colleagues are performing and the value added to the business. Too often it’s the failures in this area that lead to talent leaving employers for their competitors.

Products that incorporate leading-edge compensation technology focus on helping employers build strategies and programmes that support their business and align it to their company culture.


But what do employees think? Employee surveys and social tools place cognitive analytics into the hands of HR professionals – helping them gain valuable insights from recruiting, onboarding and performance management data.

Employee engagement really comes into its own here: employees have the crucial opportunity to feedback directly to their managers through a confidential and constructive process. Specifically designed social tools provide simple yet effective methods for colleagues to continuously respond and feedback to employers. 

And of course, understanding what motivates and engages employees helps drive necessary behaviour and cultural changes, while improving workgroup effectiveness, enhancing individual development and increasing staff retention.

Talent analytics, meanwhile, give HR professionals tools designed specifically for their use and place the power of sophisticated talent analytics directly into their hands. Built by HR professionals for HR professionals, they use the lexicon of human resources, helping managers make strategic, fact-based decisions for driving business outcomes.

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