3 steps to promote career path visibility in legacy organizations

Designing modern career paths with talent mobility

Austen Gregerson

By Austen Gregerson, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat

May 23, 2022

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Companies with long institutional histories are approaching an era of change with a unique set of problems and advantages. Once seen as the ones setting the standard for hiring practices, career trajectories, and best-use cases, they now have to adapt to a landscape where employee burnout and low internal mobility can determine which companies will be hurt the most by rising labor trends.

One such issue many companies face today is the increased mobility and freedom workers seek. It goes against the core of what work used to be: decades-long careers with the same company are incredibly rare for the modern worker, and 80% of employees don’t even see their current employer as a viable option for growth.

The future of work demands that organizations of all sizes, histories, and legacies rethink what it means to engage their employees. Giving workers greater visibility on career pathing possibilities can better align opportunities for the worker’s long-term growth with evolving business needs.

The challenge of change in enterprise organizations

When looking for new ways to engage employees and make their workforce more agile, enterprise organizations have begun learning from their younger counterparts: startups. With limited resources, startup companies are forced to maximize the talent they possess and quickly learn to pivot and adapt to varying market conditions.

The Great Resignation has made all of us rethink the ways we organize—our personal lives, our professional lives, and what the future of work will look like. Flexible organizations that prioritize talent mobility over static jobs are winning the margins, engaging employees on their terms, and unlocking hundreds of thousands of work hours all through internal mobility.

The trend is also solidifying: high-performing organizations are 2-times more likely to prioritize talent mobility than low-performing ones.

And while change is always hard, large companies are especially well-positioned to leverage workforce mobility, as their scale comes with exponential potential for impact.

When legacy institutions offer modern career paths

The biggest hurdle for large companies to clear when instituting talent strategies is often their mindset. When decades of a specific approach have proven successful, turning your back on “tried-and-true” ways of work seems like too big of a risk.

But an even greater risk for any business is stagnation. Just 33% of organizations believe they currently have the skills to advance their company strategy in the near future, and this trend shows little signs of slowing.

Every industry over the past century has undergone massive changes: communication, transportation, manufacturing, and consumer goods organizations could not possibly operate today as they did at the dawn of the 20th century. So why are many of these companies still managing their workforce in the same way?

As new jobs and skill needs arise, enterprise organizations can hire externally to fill the gaps. But these external hires are much more costly than internal ones and take far longer to onboard. This option also does little to address employees’ and candidates’ desire for more flexible career paths.

The win-win option would be for these companies to implement new tools and strategies, such as a talent marketplace and a focus on organizational agility to empower employees to take control of their careers and pursue interests more in line with company (and career) objectives—all while leveraging the talent they already have and allowing them to develop new skills and contribute in different ways.

How to promote career path visibility

Strict policies on job leveling, tied to legacy-minded constructs like tenure and job description, hinder the flexibility that modern organizations need to keep pace with evolving industry needs. By allowing greater mobility internally, enterprises can unlock the strength of their workforce. Below are three steps legacy organizations can take to promote career path visibility:

#1. Prioritize mobility over static roles
As building skills competencies become the leading priority for HR leaders in 2022, rethink the way your organization looks at its workforce: vertically, horizontally, or dynamically? Embracing agility throughout the workforce creates an environment ready for greater communication, less talent and information silos, and a mindset across the organization that values positive action toward evolving marketplace challenges.

#2. Democratize access to career development
Artificial intelligence-backed talent marketplaces can smartly pair workers to opportunities that strengthen their skills and match them to business objectives. AI matters because scale matters. Global institutions could never manually match individual employees with interest-aligned and skill-building learning opportunities the way AI-driven platforms do instantly, dynamically, and scale.

#3. Leverage a talent marketplace to power 360-degree skills visibility
Roughly 40% of HR leaders admit they don’t know what skills are in their workforce, and without these insights, companies risk losing the full potential of an agile workforce. Mobility and skills are essential, but to get the most out of them requires a talent marketplace capable of organizing real-time information. AI-powered matching offers enterprises the scalability necessary to act upon such data, and gives employees greater insight into what skills are needed to advance their careers.

Leveraging industry expertise with talent marketplaces

Startups get all the buzz: new ideas, fresh branding, and a culture of rolling up your sleeves and doing what needs to be done—regardless of specific job descriptions. Companies with legacies to uphold often see themselves as being on the defensive from startups, justifying old work structures against a tide of smaller, nimbler organizations, but in doing so ignore the power of their size.

Their massive scale can be leveraged for exponential possibilities when they’re willing to rethink the ways they approach talent management.

At Gloat, we believe that the best of both worlds is possible, and something all organizations can aspire to. This vision is best captured through one of our brand promises: “Move like a startup, deliver like an enterprise.”

Here are four examples of enterprise companies that have utilized internal talent marketplaces to build upon that scale:

Unilever
Their FLEX Experiences initiative increased engagement with their female employees, seeing 62% of opportunities being taken by women in the company despite employing roughly equal numbers of men and women. Overall productivity increased by 41%, and 60% of assignments were assigned cross-country—hardly feasible before the digital revolution.

TATA Steel
After instituting an AI-powered talent marketplace, the company unlocked more than 165,000 hours of hidden capacity and staffed more than 1,000 projects within the first few months of implementation.

Standard Chartered Bank 
With more than 85,000 employees worldwide, SCB saw its biggest year-on-year increase in career development satisfaction after enacting a talent marketplace.
Schneider Electric 
Career agility initiatives saw an estimated $15 million savings in enhanced productivity from their workforce and reductions in recruiting expenses.

Turning down history to address new realities

Change is inevitable. It’s up to companies staunchly rooted in their history to rethink the ways that employees can contribute to building upon that foundation, writing new chapters of success for an organization that may not quite resemble the one that existed in its infancy.

A talent marketplace allows for greater visibility of the skills already in your company, and leverages the capability of AI to match those skills with the business-critical tasks your company faces today and in the future.

But the thing about the future is that the longer you wait, the longer it will take to catch up.

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