What are Open Badges and Should You Embrace Them?

Julie Shenkman
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Human resources should be on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to hiring employees and maintaining the current talent pool. Because of several trends in hiring, open badges have become a way to instantly recognize the skills of potential hires and current employees. Here's a look at how open badges work and why they are important to your company.


Open badges recognize the accomplishments of a person after achieving a certain skill within a digital context. IBM started its badge program to recognize IT employees for reaching various stages in their careers. For example, a green badge, called the Explorer badge, indicates someone has just started acquiring knowledge in a certain area of interest. The Excellence badge means an employee completed several rounds of education that led to the mastery of a particular subject. Open badges are visual items a candidate can attach to a resume or email document. They are also great for tracking employee progress through a training module.

Benefits to Your Company

Open badges benefit your company in several ways. First, they allow your firm to recognize someone's achievements. They are also a source of pride for the person who earns the badges. In a world filled with so much technology, these digital badges provide a quick glance into an employee's skill set that improves efficiency and time spent going over someone's credentials. You can map someone's talent level very quickly with just a few simple logos listed next to someone's name.

Open badges increase employee engagement. At IBM, 87 percent of people who earn their badges say it makes them want to engage more with their employer. IBM's badges can migrate to social media, where they create even more social impressions among IBM employees. These virtual badges can do the same for your company as more employees earn, click and share their badges.

Getting a reward, even a virtual one, motivates employees to accomplish a goal. The rewards increase company loyalty and reduce turnover. These rewards go a few steps further due to the programming embedded in each badge.

Badges aggregate data so HR can view a skills map of various employees. This can lead to targeted training opportunities, better talent acquisition for in-house promotions and more efficient ways to interview people for open positions. When a company uses these badges to recruit people, they provide credentials following a skill’s testing method.

IBM takes these bits of programming to a precise science. Badges embedded with code create social media impression, and that, in turn, makes viral content on social media platforms. IBM states that for every 10,000 badges, the company generates 2.5 million social media impressions. These impressions generate buzz about IBM's hiring.

In short, open badges are a simple way to make human resources tasks more efficient. Rather than scanning a resume for someone's skills, staffers can view a person's skill set in an easy-to-read format with badges on the screen.

Photo courtesy of Doug Belshaw at Flickr.com


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