How to build employee careers through an internal talent marketplace
Today’s business environment is marked by a growing dichotomy. On the one hand, we have business leaders and organisations grappling with challenges related to talent shortage and a mounting skills gap, whereas, on the other, we have an increasing number of employees looking for more opportunities to grow.
It is worth noting that talent today is not only looking for growth in payscales but also in terms of building future-proof skills that help further their career.
In a study done by PeopleAsset, 76 per cent of respondents (employees) rated learning and development as the most important factor impacting their engagement, with career growth opportunities coming in a close second at 75 per cent. This highlights the relevance and criticality of developing robust, thoughtful, and impactful skill development, learning, and training practices within an organisation. If leaders want to overcome the talent challenge while also improving their employee engagement and performance, setting up an internal talent ‘marketplace’ is one of the most effective solutions.
The concept of an Internal Talent Marketplace can be defined as a platform or practice that gives an organisation’s employees access to internal opportunities; helps them upskill and build a career that is best aligned with their personal aspirations and strengths. Some of these opportunities can include projects, stretch assignments, mentoring, and even full-time roles. By creating an internal talent marketplace, organisations can fill their short and long-term talent/skill requirements without hiring from outside, and employees can build their skills and fortify their professional growth journey without having to look for new roles outside their organisation. In short, it is what you call a win-win solution.
So, how can organisations build a thriving internal talent marketplace? Below are a few steps that can prove to be immensely helpful.
Start by defining a clear policy
As with everything, clear and strong communication is of utmost importance. Start by articulating the minimum requirements that a person must meet to be eligible to apply for roles, including the previous feedback received, and the duration in the current role. This will remove any ambiguity and make it easier for internal employees to understand how they need to move forward while also laying the foundation for the effective working of the marketplace. Ideally, the internal talent marketplace should also open up opportunities for vertical movement/promotions.
Open the roles and make them transparent
Once the eligibility criteria are well-defined and in place, ensure that these are shared through the marketplace, making it visible to everyone in the organization to maintain complete transparency. Along with the eligibility requirement, it will also be helpful to define the selection process and criteria for each role. The tool should then only allow those meeting eligibility criteria as per the defined policy to apply for the respective roles.
Encourage managers to have conversations with team members
Communicating or ‘checking in’ with employees can prove to be a useful tool in assessing the goals, strengths, and areas of improvement of employees. One of the key focus areas for managers during performance discussions and regular feedback exchanges should be to understand the professional aspirations of their team members. Making this a practice equips managers with crucial information that enables them to better guide individuals on how to fulfill their career ambitions without looking for external opportunities.
Coach managers to recognise the long-term benefits
One of the biggest hurdles to the success of an internal talent marketplace is the reluctance that people managers show when it comes to letting talent go. This is especially true for top talent and individuals they believe to be critical to their success. To overcome this challenge, managers need to be coached to recognize how employing this concept is, in fact, beneficial for the organisation on the whole. Before implementing any such initiative, it is necessary for managers to understand the long-term purpose that an internal marketplace will help serve and how retaining top talent in a different role within the organisation is far more favourable than having them leave the organisation. This would also prove to be an effective way to boost their managerial skills to ensure that they are able to retain their people voluntarily by providing them ample room for growth by way of internal opportunities.
Opportunities to learn
It is also the organisation's responsibility to ensure that its employees are provided relevant learning opportunities. The keyword is relevant. Using the information gleaned from regular discussions and performance assessments, managers will be in a strong position to create learning/training initiatives that are aligned with individual and organisational goals. This will provide employees with the necessary impetus to upskill themselves before they apply for any other internal opportunities.
Share positive stories
Finally, for the internal talent marketplace to be a success, it’s important that everyone knows about it. Draft a communication plan focussed on spreading awareness about the existence and impact of the platform. Share stories of people who have benefited from the marketplace to ensure employees are not just aware of its existence but also understand how it can serve as a stepping stone for their careers.
Improving organisational culture starts with professional development. Business and HR leaders will also agree that career development is one of the primary drivers of employee engagement. If leveraged and implemented correctly, an internal talent marketplace will enable managers to promote varied roles and helps organisations quickly deploy, motivate, develop, and importantly, retain employees.