Seagate: Transforming data storage by unlocking talent

How the data management giant shifted to a skills-based strategy

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By Austen Gregerson, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat

Seagate’s 40,000 employees are what helped build the organization into one of the world’s leading data storage providers—measuring their shipping capabilities in zettabytes, and servicing both consumers and large industries. To remain competitive in a growing industry, the company’s leadership understood it needed to continue investing in the development of its employees.

But with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, priorities shifted. Divkiran Kathuria, Seagate’s Global Director of Talent Mobility and Talent Acquisition Programs, wanted to make sure that her company’s training and skills initiatives stayed on course despite unprecedented circumstances.

Their answer: implementing a workforce agility platform that offered the speed, mobility, and transparency the company needed to continue preparing their people for the future of work.

What is a workforce agility platform?

A workforce agility platform, normally consisting of two separate functions—a talent marketplace and a workforce intelligence solution—allows companies to implement internal mobility at scale. While workforce intelligence gives leadership real-time insights into the skills within an organization, the talent marketplace helps connect people with the relevant training, projects, and mentorships to enable industry-relevant growth.

As their skill needs changed and talent initiatives grew in importance, Seagate couldn’t risk losing highly-skilled employees at a critical time. Since training, skills development, and mentoring opportunities continue to rank as one of the top ways to retain talent, Kathuria and her colleagues wanted to ensure that talent felt valued, supported, and included in the organization’s success.

“There is a focus on your strengths because it’s about what skills you have or what skills you want to have,” Kathuria said. “Which is, what is your strength in terms of experience and knowledge? That is used to match you to the sea of opportunity that you get with the talent marketplace.

Kathuria continued, “That’s my perspective in terms of how the talent marketplace can support solving this employee engagement problem. People need more than a fleeting, warm, fuzzy feeling and a good paycheck to be actively engaged and achieve more for their careers. People want purpose and meaning from their work. They want to be known for what makes them unique. Especially for Millennials and other generations, this has become extremely important. The work means more to them than just a way of earning money. This is what drives employee engagement.”

The efforts proved to be a quick success. Within 45 days of launch, Seagate saw 90% registration to their talent marketplace with 87% high-profile completion. And after four months, roughly 35,000 hours of productivity were unlocked—a value of approximately $1.4 million, in Seagate’s estimation.

Seagate’s 4 steps to amplifying the success of a talent marketplace

To continue Seagate’s successful implementation of Gloat’s talent marketplace, Kathuria has helped the organization transfer from an “establish” phase to a period of “enhancement” of their systems. Throughout the process, Seagate is focusing on these four goals to continue evolving its platform:

#1. Democratize access to career development 

Technology has the capability to act as an enabler, connecting people to the opportunities best suited to their skills and aspirations at the speed and scale large enterprises require. This increase in employee engagement also drives retention: A LinkedIn survey showed that 94% of employees would stay at an organization longer if it invested in their careers.

One of the more remarkable effects of their talent marketplace implementation was the impact it had on women’s involvement in projects. Just four months after implementing Gloat’s Talent Marketplace, the company saw a 58% increase in the participation and assignment of projects to women.

#2. Connect employees to meaningful career development opportunities

Seagate’s engaged workforce immediately sought opportunities to better themselves, and Gloat’s Talent Marketplace enabled them to seek out upskilling opportunities and projects that better aligned with their interests. Studies show that high-performance organizations are twice as likely to prioritize talent mobility than low-performance organizations.

By engaging workers directly and giving them the chance to pursue projects that match their ambitions, Kathuria believes they helped not only better their efficiency, but retain key talent.

“Everybody knows that if you hire internally, you save costs, but it also helps retain employees who are already a culture fit and can add value from day one, when they join,” Kathuria said. “We believe that this is one of the reasons that we’ve been able to maintain a rate of internal deployment at one person per day since launch between one and a half years, now. Also, this is what has contributed to keeping our attrition rates to single digits, even during the Great Resignation, where you’ll see industry trends in the double digits.”

#3. Secure buy-in from key stakeholders across the organization

Building “talent stewards,” as Kathuria labels them, takes time. But their influence over the organization and its readiness to accept the transition to agile work strategies is essential for persuading hesitant colleagues. By laying out clear, decisive change management plans, fears about “giving away” talent can be calmed with tactical strategies implemented at scale.

#4. Quantify results to continue optimizing the talent marketplace

Initially, Seagate focused on enrollment numbers when implementing Gloat’s Talent Marketplace. When 90% of the organization had signed up with 87% of profiles being high-quality, they shifted their focus onto seeing who was taking advantage of opportunities.

Kathuria breaks down the stages of implementation into three phases: establish, enhance, and evolve. Seagate is currently in the enhancement stage, finding places where they can optimize their marketplace to make corrections and continue seeing the ROI they hoped for.

“When we launched (Gloat’s Talent Marketplace), it was important to get people on the platform and make sure that they were using it efficiently and effectively, because that was just the beginning phase,” Kathuria said. “Very interestingly, we also saw 58% increase in participation and assignment of women. Again, this ties back really well with our value of inclusivity, something we live and breathe.”

Kathuria continued, “This was in the initial phase, but as we move from our establish phase to the enhance phase now, we can enhance the usage based on data and everything else that we have done in the past year.”

How Seagate reimagined employee engagement

Seagate continues using Gloat’s Talent Marketplace to better engage their employees and unlock the skills previously siloed in old work structures.  To learn more, watch the full conversation with Seagate’s Divkiran Kathuria.

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