April 9, 2024 – Future of Work

SHRM Foundation: Rethinking talent strategies to unlock benefits for employers and workers


Hiring and developing people in their careers based on their unique talents and their desire to contribute will benefit employers and workers.

The Center for Excellence, a new initiative from the SHRM Foundation supported by the Charles Koch Foundation, Walmart, and the Workday Foundation, will accelerate the adoption of this mindset. 

Employers understand the mutual benefit of skills-based hiring, but need help

More companies have turned to skills-based talent strategies as part of their efforts to hire and develop employees based on the entirety of a person’s capabilities and experience, rather than just their educational pedigree.

But if companies do not address the culture around how they view each person’s potential — and how they challenge people to reach their potential and reward them when they reach it — they risk perpetuating problems like burnout and disengagement that currently plague the workplace. 

The center will help companies translate their excitement about skills-based hiring into to practical steps that will help them build cultures of empowerment. Specifically, it will offer:

  • An artificial intelligence-based system that will help employers understand how to adopt skills-based practices and that will recommend next steps in their effort to change hiring culture;
  • A resource library to assist employers in selecting effective hiring tools;
  • A Clearinghouse and Solutions Lab that will help HR professionals understand which solution have been effective and that will provide a community of practice; and
  • A credentialling system that will formally certify HR professionals, hiring managers, and C-suite executives in skills-first practices.

Organizations like Opportunity@Work, Jobs for the Future, the Education Design Lab, and others will help the SHRM Foundation bring these tools to life.

“[W]e commit to being a key convener and catalyst for employer practices, focusing on creating centralized, enterprise-level solutions that drive scale and trust,” SHRM Foundation President Wendi Safstrom says. “Our comprehensive plan involves supporting HR-inclusive innovation, fostering employer-led solutions to mitigate risks, and facilitating collective action to reduce isolation, highlight exemplars, and expedite progress.”

Starting with skills instead of pedigree enhances workers’ motivation to contribute

Focusing on skills instead of degrees opens companies to new sources of talent and it helps hiring managers find the best person for a job. It also results in longer worker tenures, increased productivity, and motivation by workers to innovate and find more ways to contribute at work. 

This approach to talent management helps workers live lives of purpose and see the value of their contributions.

“The momentum of skills-based hiring is encouraging, but it does not go far enough. Employers need tools designed to support comprehensive culture change,” CKF Executive Director Ryan Stowers says. “The Center of Excellence is an exciting example of how SHRM helps employers rethink how to empower their workers to pursue meaningful careers.”

“By rethinking talent strategies to look at the full set of capabilities that people bring, companies can experience tremendous mutual benefit. Workers who are aligned with the vision of the organization see purpose in their work, understand the value they create, and are motivated by the role they play,” Stowers continued. “Employees who are more fulfilled in their work are also more likely to innovate, grow, and stay at an organization.” 

The center will launch in early 2025. It is part of the SHRM Foundation’s effort to transform hiring and advancement practices for 100,00 employers and 500,000 HR professionals, managers, and executives over the next decade.

Read the SHRM Foundation’s full announcement here.