How to Get Started With an Internal Talent Marketplace
Internal talent marketplaces are on the rise. Companies increasingly recognize that to increase efficiency, agility and return on HR investment they must use their internal talent in the most robust and dynamic way possible. That's where talent marketplaces come in, by matching potentially untapped employee skills with current business needs and assignments.
“All the evidence is that [the internal talent marketplace ecosystem] is increasing very quickly,” said John Boudreau, professor emeritus of management and organization and a senior research scientist with the Center for Effective Organizations at University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. “It’s kind of jumped out of HR to be something that leaders of all kinds are now aware of and are being presented with the benefits of.”
The sector has developed enough that most business leaders now understand the benefits of internal marketplaces. What some don’t yet have a handle on, however, is how to navigate the complex environment.
Establish Why You Want a Talent Marketplace
The question looms large: How do I pick the right solution for my company? Unfortunately, the answer’s not that simple.
“There’s no best platform,” said Janet Clarey, principal director of HR research and advisory services at McLean & Company. “It depends on the purpose and requirements. We say, ‘That’s your first step: What’s the purpose of this? Don’t even think about looking at technology until you figured out the purpose for doing it.’”
While some of the market leaders in this space are Gloat, Eightfold, Fuel50, Avature, Pymetrics, Phenom and Hitch Works, human resource consulting firm McLean & Company published a buyer’s guide (registration required) that can help companies understand the options.
But the process of discovering the best fit for your company starts with a basic understanding of the market, particularly the fact that the type of marketplace you need will be contingent on what you want it to do.
There are two ways to use internal talent marketplaces, said Patryk Perkowski, assistant professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at Yeshiva University’s business school. One is as a traditional job listing site that facilitates a more formal job-posting and application process controlled by HR. These also often include volunteer opportunities and training resources.
The other option is to delegate the process of matching jobs and workers to employees and managers, making the platform more of a dynamic skills-matching platform focused on project work rather than a formal jobs board. This particular use case is the one most companies are striving for amid shifts in the nature of work.
To make headway in this space, start by figuring out your purpose by considering your priorities and how you want this solution to function with your organization. According to Perkowski, companies need to determine if they seek a particular emphasis, which will help identify the best solution for them. For example, some companies want to emphasize career pathways, some are looking for more of a learning experience platform, and others want a tool to upskill and reskill employees via projects outside their formal jobs.
Related Article: Workforce Shortages Got You Down? Time for Better Skills Development
Can Your Current Tech Stack Meet Your Needs?
There are various ways to achieve the function of an internal talent marketplace, so before you look for a stand-alone solution, assess whether your current tech stack has capabilities that might work for your needs.
Your enterprise resource management solution may have a useful module you can access. For instance, Workday’s Human Capital Management system is built around Workday Skills Cloud, which employs machine learning to match talent and opportunities. Workday users may be able to access this functionality without integrating a standalone internal marketplace solution.
Skills inventory engines are another option. They introduce an AI capability on top of a larger ERM or HCM system, such as the way Eightfold’s Career Hub supplements Workday. This can be an appealing option because it doesn’t require adding a separate application outside of the platform you’re already using.
Also verify if any of the tools you use in your HR functions, such as training and learning, have an integrated talent marketplace solution that users can adopt. An example is learning experience platform Degreed, which has recently launched Degreed Career Mobility, an internal talent marketplace focusing on learning and upskilling.
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Look for Robust Functionality
Whatever type of solution you decide you need, Clarey recommends making sure it at least satisfies a basic value proposition: “It should do intelligent matching, should be able to support multiple types of opportunities and should do skills intelligence, since these are skills-based platforms,” she said.
The focus on skills is the key selling point for many of these platforms, since employers are rapidly shifting the way they conceive of workers and jobs. This means that your search for the right internal marketplace should focus on whether a solution prioritizes skills instead of formal roles.
“‘Skills-based’ is everything,” Boudreau said. “It helps people think of work in more deconstructed terms. The idea of a skill-based system is that the skills get to exist interdependently and not be frozen in the job.”
Beyond the core competencies Clarey identifies, you may look for features like bias detection, mentoring or predictive analytics. Analytics allow for pattern recognition that can inform leadership of the types of skills or jobs that will be needed for the future, something companies have limited insight on without such tools.
“Using analytics creates a competitive advantage for organizations that can start upskilling employees,” said Clarey.
Related Article: How to Hire for Potential, Not Just Experience
Don’t Get Left Behind
Internal talent marketplaces clearly have a role in the future of talent management. Organizations that implement these solutions early and use them well will have a competitive advantage over those that lag in their adoption.
“For the last couple of years, [these platforms] have been one of the bright shiny objects that are fascinating leaders of all kinds, including leaders outside of HR,” said Boudreau. “The human resource world is getting requests from their constituents: ‘What are we doing about these internal talent marketplaces?’”
Make sure you’re asking the same question.
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