How to maximize the success of your talent marketplace launch

Talent marketplace implementation best practices proven by successful transformations

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By Aoife Kilduff, C&E consultant @ Gloat

After Josh Bersin referred to talent marketplaces as “one of the most successful innovations in HR” and Gartner named implementing a system as a top initiative for CIOs to drive value, it’s clear the platforms are gaining recognition. Early talent marketplace adopters are already seeing incredible success, with Schneider Electric generating savings of over $15 million and Unilever boosting overall productivity by 41%.

While the platforms have the potential to help many organizations achieve similar results, ultimately, the impact of your talent marketplace will be determined by your launch strategy. Since the platforms are meant for all employees to leverage, a talent marketplace that suffers from poor adoption won’t generate the same kind of game-changing results as a system with widespread usage.

To maximize your platform’s impact, leaders need to devise an implementation strategy that prioritizes the people side of the process and involves middle managers from the start. If you’re really looking to take your launch to the next level, don’t hesitate to steal some pointers from the trailblazing companies that are further along in their agile transformation journey.

What to think about before launching your talent marketplace

Launching a talent marketplace isn’t the same as updating your human capital management platform or adding new features to an existing system, as Bersin explains. “It’s not just a set of features on your ERP. This is an application that operates differently, with different data sources and different kinds of functionality. It has to have a particularly unique user experience and it has to be very user-centric.”

Leaders need a clear vision for what their integrated talent marketplace system will look like. Before launching your platform, make sure you have answers to the following questions:

  • How do we want to integrate technologies across the ecosystem to create value for our organization?
  • How can we create a seamless user experience for our people?
  • Are we going to select a one-size-fits-all suite or go with an open platform approach?

Choosing between a one-size-fits-all suite and an open platform approach that enables your organization to work with multiple vendors is one of the most important talent marketplace decisions leaders must make. While the former might seem simpler, different platforms require different expertise and experience. Oftentimes, it’s unrealistic to expect any single vendor to deliver on all fronts, meaning that only some of your functionality will be on par with market leaders.

In contrast, going with an open platform approach enables your organization to work with talent marketplace vendors that have extensive experience launching these platforms and to join a robust community of customers with the proven success of global deployments.

How to prioritize the people side of your talent marketplace implementation

One of the most important pillars of any successful talent marketplace launch is a focus on the people who will be using it. Beyond merely getting familiar with how the platform works, these systems catalyze profound organizational shifts, including emphasizing skills—rather than jobs—as the primary unit of work. There are a few best practices that leaders should keep in mind to help all employees navigate the change management process.

#1. Emphasize your urgency for change

Once you understand why your business needs a talent marketplace, make sure your entire organization picks up on a similar sense of urgency. Collect data that illustrates how employees currently feel about career growth at your organization to underscore the need for change. For example, before launching their talent marketplace, Schneider Electric reported that nearly 50% of exiting employees claimed that a lack of career opportunities fueled their decision to leave the organization.

#2. Gain buy-in from senior leaders

The most effective way to get everyone on board with your talent marketplace vision is by gaining the support of your leadership team. As executives embrace your launch plan, encourage them to share why they’re excited about the platform and spotlight the tangible benefits it will help you achieve. Nestlé USA’s CEO even created a welcome video that played during an employee’s first visit to their talent marketplace to get people excited about their new platform.

#3. Prioritize manager engagement from the start

Middle managers can be one of the most difficult populations to engage during your talent marketplace launch, as they may hesitate to let go of top-performing workers out of fear that they’re losing control in the transition. It’s critical to brief this group early on and demonstrate how the solution will benefit them by enabling their direct reports to grow and expand their skill sets.

#4. Don’t skip the soft launch

Conducting a two-week soft launch helps populate the talent marketplace and builds buzz prior to the official go-live. During this time, leaders can open the platform to 5-7% of the population and begin training them to create profiles and projects. Eventually, this group of early adopters can serve as change ambassadors to drive user adoption across the organization.

3 steps leaders must take before launching their talent marketplace

In addition to prioritizing the people side of the implementation process, there are a handful of other initiatives that leaders should add to their to-do lists to ensure their talent marketplace launch is a success.

#1. Select your initial launch population

Choosing the right launch population is another decision that will profoundly influence how your talent marketplace is received. Instead of focusing on a specific group, make a shortlist of suggestions and connect with the leaders of each team to brief them on the launch process and what they’ll gain by piloting the platform. Once you’ve selected your launch population, don’t forget to schedule a kick-off meeting or workshop to get make sure everyone is on the same page.

#2. Choose your change team

Launching a talent marketplace isn’t just about learning a new technology; it’s about embracing an entirely new approach to work that’s rooted in skills and employee ambitions. Selecting a Change and Enablement lead to manage the implementation process is pivotal to achieving success, as they will be the ones supporting teams throughout the journey. Additionally, leaders need to make sure that communications and training resources are engaging to ensure employees will have content to guide them as they get familiar with their new platform.

#3. Complete an ROI model

Navigating the changes that come with launching a talent marketplace can be challenging, so it’s important to have a clear idea of just how worthwhile your implementation will be. Top talent marketplace vendors typically provide their customers with models that can predict how many hours you will be able to unlock, the improvement in employee retention that you’ll see, and how these changes will translate into dollars saved.

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