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4 best practices for creating an internal talent marketplace

Internal mobility is one potential solution to companies' current recruiting problems. Learn about internal talent marketplaces and best practices for creating one.

As many organizations struggle to recruit new employees, an internal talent marketplace is one potential way to address recruitment challenges and can also help facilitate other employee development goals, including developing skill sets and mentor matching.

Internal talent marketplaces can help employees upskill and reskill by matching them with short-term projects, and these marketplaces can potentially increase retention because they give employees access to growth opportunities. However, HR leaders should follow particular best practices when implementing an internal talent marketplace, including managing "talent hoarding."

Here's a look at what internal talent marketplaces are and best practices for creating them.

What is an internal talent marketplace?

Internal talent marketplaces are HR technology platforms that connect internal candidates with hiring managers and vice versa. Employees add their skills and interests to the marketplace, and the marketplace displays potential new roles for them based on that data. Employees may be able to access other opportunities, like mentoring, through the marketplace as well.

Ina GantchevaIna Gantcheva

Talent marketplaces can benefit organizations in a number of ways, said Ina Gantcheva, human capital principal at Deloitte. These benefits include the following:

  • improving employee experience by helping employees develop their career paths and identify internal job opportunities based on employee skills and goals;
  • assisting employees in finding part-time projects or one-off gigs that could lead to reduction of skills gaps;
  • connecting employees with training and development programs that could contribute to career advancement;
  • potentially improving remote workers' career growth, since they may miss informal office conversations about internal opportunities;
  • connecting workers seeking mentorship with potential mentors;
  • potentially increasing retention because employees who are regularly presented with growth opportunities tend to remain engaged and satisfied with their work experience;
  • potentially improving talent management because a company's internal talent marketplace may impress candidates and demonstrate the organization's commitment to career development and internal mobility; and
  • potentially boosting diversity, equity and inclusion by giving managers access to a wider talent pool within the company but outside their own networks.
You have this exchange of supply and demand, and it also creates this very well-connected conversation between work and workforce.
Ina GantchevaHuman capital principal, Deloitte

Talent marketplace platforms also help HR leaders gain insight on how work is changing at their organizations and improve workforce planning, Gantcheva said.

"You have this exchange of supply and demand, and it also creates this very well-connected conversation between work and workforce," she said.

4 best practices for implementing an internal talent marketplace

Although talent marketplaces have great potential in supporting an organizational talent management strategy, creating one requires sidestepping some pitfalls. Here are some steps HR leaders should follow when implementing an internal talent marketplace.

1. Build a solid team for launch, rollout and ongoing management

Successfully implementing an internal talent marketplace requires including positions that take care of duties like integration design.

Aoife KilduffAoife Kilduff

A talent marketplace rollout team should include the following roles, said Aoife Kilduff, director of change and enablement at Gloat, a talent marketplace developer headquartered in New York:

  • a project manager who could be an external consultant, an internal project management professional or even a company vice president who is particularly enthusiastic about this initiative;
  • an IT leader charged with designing the integration and configuring the platform; and
  • an individual who leads the change management required to drive company adoption.

"[The project also requires a] village of owners," Kilduff said.

This group champions the talent marketplace and helps keep it top of mind through regular communication, Kilduff said.

The following roles can serve as these ambassadors or champions:

  • vice presidents of HR;
  • communication leaders;
  • internal influencers that have driven other initiatives within the company; and
  • executive stakeholders and members of the C-suite.

Those leaders must also help increase employee engagement with the platform by leading by example.

At companies who have worked with Gloat, CEOs and chief HR officers have used the marketplace to sign up as mentors or post opportunities, Kilduff said.

2. Remember the change and enablement leader's importance

A change and enablement leader has various duties to carry out during this process to ensure talent marketplace success.

The role of this core team member is so important because a talent marketplace deployment is less about the technology and more about cultural change, Kilduff said. The change and enablement leader should be responsible for the following tasks:

  • engaging with stakeholders to build the vision for the talent marketplace and soliciting both their support and action, such as using the talent marketplace themselves;
  • building the "village of owners" to drive change on the ground across the company;
  • setting success metrics;
  • working with managers to populate the marketplace with job listings and providing them with development opportunities and regular communications, which hopefully drives their adoption;
  • attracting employees to the platform; and
  • providing continuous company communication about the talent marketplace after the launch and about how the marketplace helps meet business needs, which can help ensure that adoption and usage continues to increase.

3. Beware of talent hoarders

One challenge many organizations with talent marketplaces face is convincing managers and their subordinates to use the platform. Managers' reluctance often stems from their fear of losing high performers to another team or department.

One way to alleviate this is to enlist managers who have had a great experience with the talent marketplace to communicate their success stories to their fellow peers, Kilduff said.

Putting the proper hiring process policies in place can also help with marketplace adoption.

Divkiran KathuriaDivkiran Kathuria

Companies can require managers working on talent acquisition to post positions on the internal talent marketplace before seeking candidates outside the organization, said Divkiran Kathuria, director of talent mobility and talent acquisition programs at Seagate Technology, a data storage developer headquartered in Fremont, Calif. Managers can only seek candidates outside the organization if that first search is unsuccessful.

HR leaders must also alleviate employees' concerns about upsetting their managers by using the marketplace.

Seagate does not require employees to secure their manager's approval to engage with the platform, Kathuria said. Additionally, the organization approves employees spending 15% to 20% of their time on projects related to learning and development and does not require employees to secure manager approval to do so.

HR leaders should also combat internal talent hoarding because the problem may negatively affect talent mobility and cause employees to look for work outside the company.

Jeff SchwartzJeff Schwartz

Talent hoarders can have a direct impact on retention, said Jeff Schwartz, vice president of insights and impact at Gloat.

"Your employees know all the opportunity they have outside [of the organization]," he said.

HR leaders facing talent hoarding should look deeper to figure out what's causing the issue.

The problem could be more nuanced than just bad management practices, Schwartz said. For example, a manager may fear losing employees because the manager needs them to execute menial, repetitive tasks. If the company automates some of those functions, the employees have more time for gaining new skills, and the manager won't worry about someone on the team completing those menial tasks.

4. Adopt a nimble approach

HR leaders should plan for the internal talent marketplace rollout to take place over a long period of time and to change based on feedback.

Talent marketplaces are driven by machine learning, so the more data the system receives, the more fine-tuned the algorithm will become, Gantcheva said.

Most companies approach the rollout of a talent marketplace in small steps and may decide to roll it out country by country or business unit by business unit.

Companies should collect feedback from marketplace users and make progressive improvements based on that input, Kathuria said.

"It cannot be one implementation and we're done," she said. "Change and evolve based on how your organization is experiencing it."

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