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A Data-Driven Approach to Building a Winning Workforce – with Kahuna Workforce Solutions

A Data-Driven Approach to Building a Winning Workforce – with Kahuna Workforce Solutions

With the WorkforceNEXT Energy Summit approaching and data utilization becoming more top-of-mind than ever, we wanted to connect with Kahuna Workforce Solutions to get a deeper understanding of how data is being used to build a stronger and more capable workforce. What we discovered was, even with limited resources, having a system to collect and analyze workforce data is more vital than ever if organizations want to move forward.

Q: How are energy companies using a granular data-driven approach in recruiting, development, and planning their workforce?

A: For years companies have measured to a very low level of specificity the performance, capabilities, and maintenance requirements of their equipment. This has not traditionally been done relative to human performance. Yet, as the technical operating environment is becoming more and more complex, there is a compelling need to measure human performance on this level or the workforce may be left behind or in some cases, the results can actually be dangerous. The challenge is how to do this and create a win-win for the company and the individual.

Energy companies, in particular, must be focused on the retention and development of critical skills to ensure safety, compliance, and readiness for a more automated workplace. Systems such as Kahuna that allow for the ability to clearly understand granular skill requirements, create and manage gap closure plans, find mentors in the organization are gaining huge traction in the eyes of the employees. As important for the company they now have digital platforms to manage this shifting landscape of technical requirements and can ensure they will be prepared to meet customer demand well into the future.  As we continue the march towards automation and the need for different skills emerges, it is incumbent upon companies to invest in the retooling of their workforce.

 Q: How is the convergence of a mature competency and skills program enabled via a modern technology platform and why can this be a game changer for workforce development?

A: The concept of competency management has been around for many years, and many have been involved in its use and development. Many organizations have developed mature competency / skill programs to track the development and/or assurance of their workforce. Unfortunately, there has always been a limitation in the technology to house the program and drive the process. In recent years the technology has finally had an opportunity to catch up. When you combine a mature developed competency program with a best in class, competency first application, you begin to ascertain many previously unrealized benefits.

Integrations: mature competency programs understand that competency management is part of the employee development lifecycle and require both incoming and outgoing data from different systems to ensure the process is successful. A modern technology platform will ensure that integration between the different systems driving the modules is seamless and does not create an administrative burden.

Data visualization: the convergence between mature competency programs and modern technology platforms will allow organizations to finally answer the question: ‘What can I do with this data?’ Competency management data, once it is stored and tracked in a modern system will be available for use in various analytics and data visualizations to give insight into trends and correlations regarding gap analysis, training effectiveness, competence vs safety correlations, etc. The more potential integrations with different datasets will allow for different kinds of data visualizations that are possible.

Employee Transparency: modern technology will make it possible for mature competency programs to bring transparency to employees to empower their own development by providing visibility into current requirements, development opportunities, career paths, and mentorship.

Q: What are the best ways that energy leaders can focus their limited resources on things that will actually move the needle (i.e. retooling for critical skills, closing specific skills gaps, individualized and personalized development)?

A: First and foremost, companies need to realize that without a digital platform for managing their workforce skills and capabilities they are really operating in the dark. As training budgets are shrinking and the landscape of available learning resources is rapidly shifting, companies need to understand where the demand for learning is coming from and if that demand is aligned to where the company is going. A digital platform that clearly identifies critical skill gaps and acts as the demand generator learning focus is a great way to ensure the best use of these limited resources.
Once companies have a foundation upon which they can plan and execute their workforce development, finding ways to take the weight out of the process of assessing skills is a natural evolution. For us at Kahuna, that means employing functionality to interpret Experience and apply it to inferred proficiency or utilizing machine learning to make smarter and more focused competency assignments and narrow focus on critical skills.

Q: How are companies taking advantage of new methodologies and standards such as xAPI to develop insights and unlock hidden data?

A: xAPI is going to be a big deal for us in HR and L&D. Up until now learning experiences have been managed in silos, with very little known outside of the binary pass/ fail/ not started (support by placing learning items in a SCORM wrapper). We are just now seeing our Energy client-base starting to slowly adopt and implement xAPI standards, and LRSs (Learning Resource Stores, databases housing xAPI data). These clients are taking the plunge for two main reasons.

  • Visibility: the ability to quickly and on mass see how employees are interacting with learning content.
  • Learning Experience Integration: people are learning in different ways, using different mediums. There has been a ton written about the new ways employees are consuming learning content. xAPI empowers you to capture these different interactions (actor verb object) from different source systems. Whether it is completing a wbt in your core LMS, watching a YouTube video, reading a section of the manual so on.. xAPI will capture these interactions in a single hub, therefore, supporting the new way learners learn.

At Kahuna, we have started the journey of leveraging the power of xAPI to help take the weight out of competency assessments. This will be a game changer for our industry. Implementing integrated learning and development processes and systems to get from little understanding of your organization’s skills and competencies to detailed capability analysis without having to lose thousands of work hours on manually inputting data. Don’t just make a nicer form, remove the need for a form.

Jai Shah, CEO, Co-founder of Kahuna Workforce Solutions will be presenting at the SOLD-OUT WorkforceNEXT Energy Summit on April 18th. 

Want to learn more about Kahuna Workforce Solutions? Connect with Karen Dow at