Jenn ThomasAugust 04, 2020
Topics: Customer Stories

How Land O'Lakes Launched an Internal Talent Marketplace & Gigs [Video]

The gig economy is nothing new. But workplace “gigs”—where companies use an internal talent marketplace to match employee skills to special projects or temporary assignments—is a hot topic that’s gaining traction as a driver of employee and customer satisfaction, improved productivity, retention, and cost savings.

Especially now, Covid-19 impacts are further fueling the trend, as companies race to shift idle talent to areas that are overwhelmed.

On this episode of Talent Experience Live, Renee Robideau, Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Land O’ Lakes and John Deal, Product Manager at Phenom, explore getting started with an internal talent marketplace and gigs—and how project-based work can help reskill and mobilize your employees to create an agile team poised for success.

What challenges and goals can an internal talent marketplace address?

A workplace gig approach strengthens internal mobility. It clarifies the internal talent pool, helping organizations uncover and leverage hidden skills and expertise among employees. This can save time and money otherwise spent using outside freelancers or independent contractors to fulfill temporary needs.

For example, gigs in the workplace might take the form of employees with strong writing skills contributing marketing content, such as blogs and training materials, says Deal. Similarly, companies undertaking rapid technology advancements can tap employees to test products and provide feedback, he continues.

An internal talent program can propel employee engagement and strengthen career paths. Gigs can help employees learn about other areas of the company, promoting a sense of belonging, and enable skill development. Meanwhile, managers gain a deeper understanding and easier access to talent available in-house, reveals Robideau.

When did Land O’Lakes become interested in the concept of internal gigs for employees?

Robideau found herself at the helm of developing an internal talent marketplace when the pandemic caused sudden standstills in some of the company’s markets contrasted with soaring demand in others.

Tasked by her CEO to find a way to rapidly re-deploy talent, but realizing Land O’ Lakes had no infrastructure or process to fulfill this request, Robideau began taking the steps required to roll out an internal talent marketplace program supporting gig work.

How can HR leaders position an internal talent marketplace for success?

Before rolling out an internal talent marketplace, HR leaders must secure top-down support and address cultural barriers. A key message for all levels of staff? Communicate that one of the overarching goals of a gig approach is to fulfill crucial business needs by looking internally first. Here’s how:

  • Secure executive buy-in. In Robideau’s case, this happened organically, as the request came directly from her CEO. If you’re in the position of having to drum up executive support, present the benefits mentioned above and clearly articulate how you’ll measure success.

  • Get managers on board. Managers may fear losing productivity or valuable team members. Help overcome this barrier by communicating the benefits to managers. A program like this gives them a chance to learn about the talent and skills available internally, potentially saving them time and allowing them to complete projects more quickly.

  • Get the message in front of employees. Likewise, keep in mind that some employees may be hesitant to jump on board at first. A common barrier here is the fear that managers will perceive participation as an indication that they’re not busy enough, notes Robideau. Educate employees that participating an internal talent marketplace can help grow skill sets, promote long-term growth with the company, and nurture career development.

  • Investigate what’s worked at other companies. Gather insights from other companies that have implemented an internal talent marketplace, advises Robideau, who did just that. Then, consider adapting their approaches to fit your organization.

What are some steps in the process of rolling out an employee gig program?

1. Outline basic parameters. Take the time to plan the necessary roles and systems. For example, delineate who can participate, who can create gigs, who can post gigs, and how requests can be made.

2. Conduct training. Make sure you bring managers up to speed on using the marketplace. This may include training on a technology platform and providing tips on writing a gig description.

3. Ensure ongoing employee communication. Robideau works with internal communications to post frequent updates on the employee intranet that encourage participation and recap benefits. Put on your marketing hat and get creative. For example, Land O’ Lakes is using testimonials from early adopters to keep momentum going.

How can technology such as an internal talent marketplace platform help?

Internal talent marketplace platforms provide an efficient way to gather data on employee skills and create a searchable repository. Already happy customers of the Phenom TXM platform, Robideau and her team are currently testing Phenom’s gig capabilities, which enables employees to login into their internal talent marketplace, create a profile, select their skills, and browse and apply to appropriate projects. HR team members and managers can then search for internal talent based on needed skills and more quickly identify best-fit candidates.

AI-powered platforms like Phenom’s can enable data-driven skill and competency matching, and proactively alert employees to opportunities.

How can you measure the success of a gig program?

Right now, Robideau is taking a qualitative approach to assessing how well the program is working. She conducts frequent check-ins with participating managers and employees, surveying them on their overall satisfaction and whether they’d use the marketplace again.

Moving forward, her team plans to use technology to track quantitative measures such as cost management, cost savings, and the numbers of gigs and participants.

What’s the future of workplace gigs?

Currently, the emphasis is on adapting to rapidly changing markets and company restructures. As we return to more normal circumstances, Deal expects the focus to shift back toward career development, with upskilling becoming a primary goal.

The trend could also evolve to include a network of former employees under the internal talent marketplace umbrella, he says. Alumni who have left on good terms are a known quantity in terms of skills and expertise, and they also have valuable knowledge of the organization, making them a natural fit for temporary assignments.

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