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Flex Experiences: A New AI-Powered Talent Market Place to Develop Your Career the Way You Want It

By Jeroen Wels, EVP HR - Beauty & Personal Care, Talent & Performance Development, Unilever

It is a reality, that for many of us hierarchy, fixed roles and job descriptions define our work. This means that in almost every company around the world right now, many people’s talents are being overlooked. If Maud has a passion for coding and creating her own computer games on the weekends, but spends her weeks doing the company accounts, chances are no one would think to invite her to an employee user-experience meeting. Outside of work, Karl from HR might have raised thousands of euros via a social media campaign for a charity, but he is unlikely to be considered when the marketing team decides to launch a purely digital brand activation campaign

We all know WHY we need to make changes in the workplace—the rapid increase of agility and shifting ways of working, acceleration of augmenting technology, the necessity of lifelong learning, and the huge importance of finding a sense of purpose in our daily life and in the workplace – but I do not think I need to persuade you that helping people to reach their full potential is simply a good thing.

"We strongly believe that if people thrive, businesses will thrive"

Instead, let us look at how we are trying to change things.

Working with the Unilever Foundry, we have joined forces with Tel Aviv, and New York-based start-up Gloat to create “FLEX Experiences.” FLEX Experiences is a talent marketplace that matches Unilever employees with new projects and experiences. The platform is powered by AI and - based on skills, experience, and development areas - connects our people with opportunities to build skills or work on different projects. This happens across all the different departments and all geographies within the business. So, team leads get access to the Unilever-wide talent and skills pool, teams become more agile and empowered, and employees get to build and define the career that they want.

In partnering with Gloat, we have been truly entrepreneurial in our approach. From the start we did not want to create a solution we thought was the right answer to the problem we were trying to solve. Instead we wanted to start small, with a “minimal viable product.” We tested it to a small group of 1500 people. Together with them, we fine-tuned the ‘mvp’ to a releasable product our employees believed in. We are now at a stage where we are scaling up to over 40,000 employees in over 90 countries.

We strongly believe that if people thrive, businesses will thrive. Not only is FLEX Experiences helping Unilever to unlock thousands of hours per month, what’s much better, is our people like it – it currently has an employee endorsement rating of 95 percent. We are augmenting technology to become more human as a company – we help each employee discover their purpose, we have ‘always on’ development conversations with them, and FLEX Experiences then provides full transparency and matches them with the right career development opportunities. It is truly empowering our people to look for opportunities that fit their purpose and follow their interest and energy. It is democratizing careers, liberating, and indeed, unleashing talent potential.

Together with Gloat, we are actively collaborating with companies that want to join us on this journey. We are keen to make the project an adventure of open innovation in HR. The more different companies join us, the bigger impact we can create.

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