Romolo Tavani - stock.adobe.com
The pandemic hit Unilever, a consumer products company, in different ways. It saw, for example, tremendous demand for hygiene-related products but a shrinking need for restaurant food services. This is where the company's internal talent marketplace shined.
Unilever used its talent marketplace "to move people that had less work to do to areas where our business was still growing," said Jeroen Wels, executive vice president of talent at Unilever.
A "striking insight," Wels said, was a discovery that shifting the workforce meant that 60% of employees involved in these efforts were now working across national borders. Employees in Canada, the U.S., the U.K, China, Germany and elsewhere were being added to teams to work on specific business issues.
The flexibility to assemble teams protected jobs during the pandemic and delivered business results, Wels said. "There's no better way to demonstrate where HR can contribute to business," he said.
Internal marketplaces use an AI approach that has similarities to recruiting systems that rank job candidates. Gloat's AI will recommend candidates for internal openings that consider the employee's profile and a firm's requirements. The system also helps employees develop career paths as well as match their career goals to business needs. Finally, internal marketplaces provide workforce analytics, which can be used to identify things like organizational skills gaps.
Jeroen WelsExecutive vice president of talent, Unilever
Wels was a speaker at Gloat's virtual user conference this week. An Israel-based startup, Gloat designed the internal talent marketplace product that Unilever and other major customers, including Walmart, PepsiCo and Nestle, are using. The market is still new, but Gloat is now seeing competition from HR tech giants. In recent months, Oracle and Workday announced internal marketplace products.
IDC has yet to see widespread adoption of internal mobility and talent marketplaces, "mainly because of organizational culture," said Megan Buttita, research director on emerging trends in talent acquisition at IDC.
"There is still the underlying feeling that this poaches employees from one part of the organization to another, and employees tend to fear risking their current roles," Buttita said. For now, she said she believes external hiring will remain the default to fill business needs.
Guarding against AI bias
At the Gloat virtual conference, users discussed their deployments of internal talent marketplaces and some of the issues they had to address.
At Schneider Electric, its compliance and data privacy office "was very skeptical about what would happen -- what if the AI is biased?" said Divkiran Kathuria, its general manager of HR transformation, at the conference.
Kathuria said the firm studied Gloat's AI system and then took some steps to reduce any possibility of bias. Any characteristic -- such as ethnicity, age, country and gender -- that could introduce a bias by either the recommendation engine or the user assembling a team isn't fed into the system's algorithm, she said.
Another issue for an internal talent marketplace is keeping it balanced between supply and demand. Finding that balance is the key "to driving quality adoption," said Watson Stewart, head of talent solutions at Standard Chartered PLC, a financial services company in London.
Stewart said that in the early deployment days, the company had too many people on the platform but not enough projects or opportunities. "That really impacted our adoption," he said.
He added that he believes the talent marketplace will improve operations.
The marketplace makes it easier "to form multidisciplinary teams that don't think of people through job titles or roles but think of people and see people for the skills they bring, the experiences they bring and the potential they may offer to solve a business problem," Stewart said.