3 Years in: What HR leaders have learned from their talent marketplace journey

5 lessons the earliest talent marketplace adopters want HR leaders to know

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By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat

Less than three years ago, Gartner spotlighted talent marketplaces as a key trend in human capital management technology. While the research advisory described the platforms as “embryonic” at the time, a lot has changed in recent years.

Today, talent marketplaces are no longer an experimental technology—they’re a necessity for unlocking the level of agility the new world of work requires. Gartner even identified the talent marketplace as one of three areas of focus that CIOs should prioritize to drive value in 2022 and beyond, expanding their impact well beyond the HR space.

As the talent marketplace gains recognition, many organizations are beginning to implement this technology and starting to explore the benefits it can unlock. However, there are a handful of trailblazing companies at the forefront of agile transformation that have been leveraging talent marketplaces for years.

We caught up with leaders from Seagate, Schneider Electric, and Unilever to hear about the achievements they’ve unlocked, as well as the milestones they have their sights set on next.

Building the foundation for new, agile ways of working

While agility is today’s most sought-after competitive advantage, it wasn’t on most leaders’ radars a few years ago. Prior to COVID-19, business models hinged on stability and predictability. After the pandemic turned operating models upside down, the ability to rapidly pivot and embrace new ways of working quickly emerged as a necessity for survival.

The organizations that embraced agility at speed and scale saw incredible results. Three of our earliest partners—Unilever, Schneider Electric, and Seagate—were among these pioneering businesses at the helm of agile transformation. In response to COVID-19, these organizations accelerated their platform rollouts so that talent could be redeployed swiftly to support areas of the business with increased demand. Unilever credits its talent marketplace with helping the enterprise staff more than 700 business-critical projects and unlock over 26,000 hours of capacity in two months. Today, the enterprise has unlocked upwards of 700,000 hours and achieved a 41% improvement in overall productivity.

Beyond immediate response efforts, early talent marketplace adopters gained the insights needed to overcome the challenge that would soon follow COVID-19: the Great Resignation. While many businesses saw turnover rates soar, leaders who tapped into the talent marketplace encountered a more promising reality. As  Seagate’s Chief Human Resources Officer Patricia Frost explains, “We haven’t seen the Great Resignation. The game-changer for us is this journey we’ve been on with Gloat. Employees have their careers in their hands and they can see vertical and lateral movement possibilities.”

5 talent marketplace lessons that pioneering organizations want HR leaders to know

With an ongoing labor shortage and economic headwinds on the horizon, it’s clear that agility will remain a necessity for survival. Fortunately, the companies that blazed new trails and unlocked adaptive and dynamic ways of working have a few lessons to share with those eager to follow in their footsteps.

#1. Leverage your moment of truth

Every company will face unique challenges that present leaders with a chance to embrace organizational agility. For Unilever, the COVID-19 pandemic was that opportunity. Changes in market demands left some teams overwhelmed while their colleagues in other departments were suddenly looking for new projects to take on. To respond to these shifts, the organization needed to redeploy talent to meet emerging priorities.

As former Executive Vice President of HR and Chief Talent Officer Jeroen Wels explains, “We had a fantastic campaign where through six to eight weeks time we were able to move 6,000 people without work to do to really helping out on the other side.”

Beyond enabling Unilever to swiftly respond to shifting consumer demands, the campaign demonstrated the organization’s ability to turn agility into a competitive advantage. “Our CEO at the time used that in an investor conference to exemplify how agile Unilever can be. So there you have a moment of truth where the talent marketplace was really making an impact,” Wels concludes.

#2. Let the platform reveal your people’s potential

Traditionally, biases and barriers have limited talent pools and discouraged qualified internal candidates from stepping into new projects and roles. As Seagate’s Global Head of Talent Marketplace and TA Transformation Divkiran Kathuria explains, “A lot of women don’t tend to apply to an opportunity which isn’t a 100% fit. We hold ourselves back. But that’s the beauty of the [talent marketplace]. It’s not asking you to sell yourself. The platform is telling you that this is an opportunity that’s fit for you.”

Rather than letting internal obstacles continue to hinder career mobility, groundbreaking organizations like Seagate are harnessing talent marketplaces to shine a spotlight on employees who are ready to take on new challenges. After Seagate introduced its talent marketplace, 1.4 times more women began applying to opportunities on the platform compared to their male counterparts, and women’s participation in projects increased by 58%.

#3. Put employees at the center of your talent strategies

The days of prioritizing your product above all else have decidedly come to a close. As talent shortages continue and workers raise the bar for their employers, leaders must put people at the center of their strategies and ensure everyone has visibility into growth opportunities that align with their ambitions.

“Who are HR’s customers? The employees,” notes Jean Pelletier, Vice President of Digital Talent Transformation at Schneider Electric. “What are we supposed to be doing? Being customer-centric. So when we start to think about customers and we start to treat employees this way, then we’ve got this whole evolution,” she concludes.

Once businesses begin putting their people at the top of their priority list, they’ll be well-positioned to unlock game-changing benefits, as Schneider Electric demonstrates. After launching its talent marketplace, the organization has generated savings of more than $15,000,000 in enhanced productivity and reduced recruitment costs.

#4. Embrace talent sharing and internal mobility

While launching a talent marketplace is a major step towards unlocking agility, the introduction of your platform needs to be accompanied by a profound culture change for maximal impact. Without a shift in mindset, leaders and managers may struggle to support employees who are eager to take on new challenges or participate in cross-functional projects.

As Seagate’s Patricia Frost explains, “Our CEO was frustrated in the past when he saw a shift in our product line and he wanted to lift and shift people working in one part of the product roadmap to another. But the organization was so ingrained in thinking, ‘these are my people’. We had to change that culture. It’s Seagate’s people and we want to move employees to where they can bring the most return on investment.”

#5. Expect to see your retention rates change for the better

Although every organization’s talent marketplace journey is unique, reductions in turnover rates appear to be an overarching benefit that most companies reap after launching their platform.  “The traditional question I get is, ‘How did your retention improve right now?’”, says Pelletier. “What I will tell you, especially with the Great Shuffle and the Great Resignation, is that we’re holding steady. And that’s super important to know.”

Wels describes a similar phenomenon at her organization, noting “We hear a lot about retention issues, that companies have double-digit figures. We have proof, we’ve got stats that show that a talent marketplace can help reduce those retention issues.”


To learn more about the game-changing benefits that your company could unlock, find out how talent marketplaces help organizations reduce costs.

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