Kasey LynchAugust 16, 2022
Topics: Employee Experience

How to Launch an Internal Gig Marketplace

With the competition for talent fiercer than ever, recruiters and hiring managers are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to finding best-fit candidates.

One essential talent pool? Your people. Mobilizing your existing employees to fill critical roles and meet evolving business needs isn't only easier and less costly, it allows you to create a competitive advantage by honing your best assets — while driving employee engagement and retention. A win-win.

But how can organizations pivot resources and create more flexible roles to encourage employees to step out of their comfort zone while acquiring new skills?

This is where a gig marketplace comes in.

A well-designed gig marketplace and strategy can help businesses cultivate a culture of continuous learning in the workplace, creating a more resilient and agile workforce.

Let’s explore what you can achieve by implementing a gig marketplace as part of your employee experience and engagement strategy.

What is an internal gig?

I know what you're thinking, but no — a gig doesn’t mean it’s time to get your high school rock band back together for a reunion.

So what is an internal gig?

A gig refers to short-term engagements within an organization that typically don’t involve a change in pay or job code and allow employees to get hands-on experience assisting other teams with specific projects and contributing to the overall success of the company.

They may also be called projects or cross-functional team assignments (if you’re not into the whole brevity thing). While employees won't have to migrate to the new role completely, in most cases they allocate 10-20% of their time to this new project while still managing their tasks from their primary role. Some gigs might even require more than one employee to complete.

Internal gigs have emerged as an innovative approach adopted by HR management to manage talent within organizations.

Employees are always looking for avenues to grow within their company — on one hand, they are looking for the best career path that suits their unique skill set and on the other, they want to equip themselves with new skills that will help them succeed in their next role.

While there are many opportunities for upskilling talent — online courses, local universities, on-premise classes, mentoring — gigs allow employees to get hands-on experience. Plus, they enable employers to reallocate talent to in-demand or critical areas of the business.

Pro tip: All of these available gigs or projects can be posted on the organization's internal talent marketplace for easy access and transparency.

What is a gig program?

A gig program is a customized program that matches the organization’s short-term requirements with its internal employee's skill set. This way companies can retain and engage their employees by outlining how they apply for internal gigs and fill temporary vacancies.

This whole process paves the way towards growth and professional development of the employee within the organization. A well-designed and executed program seeks to create greater value by combining talent, career, engagement, performance, productivity, and innovation across the workforce ecosystem.

Achieving this mobilization of the existing workforce can be impactful and add value to your business.

Related Resource: Driving Employee Engagement with Gigs and L&D

As the concept evolves, the next-generation vision for a gig program goes beyond just matching people with available projects and roles — though this too can be part of it.

A mature gig program is expected to extend to providing employees with access to mentorship, rotation programs, volunteering assignments, and innovation and skill-building experiences that align with business needs to create a true opportunity marketplace.

How do you get started with a gig marketplace?

The best place to start is right at the top. A gig marketplace is highly tailored to support an organization’s workforce strategy and goals. Talent management leaders and CHRO must weave gigs into the company culture, outline the expectations of managers, and address any objections to achieve success.

Here are three critical aspects of a gig marketplace that leaders should prioritize before implementation:

1. Outline basic parameters. Take the time to outline necessary roles and systems for employees. For example, determine 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 on writing a gig description or shortlisting internal talent.

3. Ensure ongoing employee communication. Promote internal communications to post frequent updates on the employee intranet that encourage participation and long-term adoption.

You should also have a clear governance plan in place. At a detailed level, this includes answering questions like:

  • What is the difference between gigs and jobs?
  • Who can create or post gigs?
  • Do gigs need to be approved to be posted?
  • Do employees need to be approved to participate in gigs?
  • Is employee approval on a gig-by-gig basis or a defined number of hours?
  • Are there specific roles or performance levels that would be automatically excluded from gigs?
  • How do we communicate critical gig work feedback to help guide managers and the organization?

This last point is an important one — a good gig marketplace will be in the hands of managers. There will be no intermediary in the form of recruiters to help move the process along or add notes about candidates to find better fits in the future. This means managers will be in charge of providing meaningful feedback.

There are also aspects of facilitating gigs that managers may need assistance with, such as crafting engaging job titles and descriptions. Training managers on this new skill is imperative.

In order to increase adoption, comfort, and consistency, provide talent managers with the opportunity to have their first few gigs reviewed before posting available opportunities to the gig marketplace.

Related Resource: The Inside Gig: How Sharing Untapped Talent Across Boundaries Unleashes Organizational Capacity

How should I communicate the gig program to employees?

After management is aligned, the next step is to introduce gigs to the rest of the company. What’s more important, however, is establishing how your team is going to keep it top of mind to drive adoption. Outlining a communication strategy for the next 2-3 months will ensure your team never misses a beat.

Many Phenom customers take the “walk/run” approach, which involves rolling out to a few departments to start, then expanding across the organization.

This includes an introductory email and training video that guides employees through finding and applying for gigs and outlines the approval process. You need to set as many expectations as possible to prevent confusion.

Employees should also understand the communications they will receive if they are accepted for a gig, if a gig is closed because another applicant has been accepted, or if the gig is no longer needed.

The diagram below outlines a basic communication flow from gig creation to completion:

[internal talent marketplace workflow example]

Talent marketers should also queue up campaigns to notify employees of new, critical, or hard-to-fill gigs. These regular communications to the company will ensure your gig marketplace takes root with consistent touchpoints and constant visibility.

How do you measure the success of your gig program?

Once your gig program has launched, it’s important to track adoption so you can measure success (because who doesn’t love a nice sticky number to prove ROI?).

Data is the key to understanding what is and isn’t working. It will also encourage adoption and agility among your talent management teams.

Keep in mind that the KPIs you measure in the beginning will be different from what you measure on an ongoing basis. Considering the dynamic, evolving nature of the labor market, it is also important to remain agile.

So, what are the metrics you should be looking at? Here are a few:

  • How many employees logged in the first week?
  • How many employees engaged with a gig (applied, shared, saved)?
  • How many managers are creating gigs?
  • How many hours are being spent on gigs?
  • Which departments are posting the most gigs?
  • What percentage of gigs are being completed?

Track these data points and review them regularly to make sure your managers and employees are getting the most out of your gig marketplace. We recommend looking at your metrics after the first week, after 30 days, after 60 days, and beyond 90 days to inform your continued strategy.

What challenges and goals can internal gigs address?

A workplace gig approach strengthens your internal marketplace. 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. Similarly, companies undertaking rapid technology advancements can tap employees to test products and provide feedback.

Gigs can propel employee engagement and strengthen career paths. They can help employees learn about other areas of the company, promoting a sense of belonging and enabling skill development. Meanwhile, managers gain a deeper understanding of the talent that’s available in-house.

Related Resource: How Quadient Reinvented Employee Development with a Talent Marketplace

Before rolling out a gig program, 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 the step-by-step process you should follow when acquiring and implementing a gig marketplace:

  1. Secure executive buy-in. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. Educate employees that participating in gigs offered by the organization can help them grow skill sets, promote long-term growth with the company, and nurture career development.
  4. Investigate what’s worked at other companies. Gather insights from other companies that have implemented a gig program. Then, consider adapting their approaches to fit your organization.

What’s the future of workplace gigs?

The workplace is being reinvented in real time. Currently, employers are working quickly to adapt to rapidly changing markets and company restructures — with a focus on upskilling, reskilling, and redeploying talent. With the help of gigs, there is a scope for maximizing talent potential within organizations.

Organizations that can strengthen stagnant areas of the business will be the ones to effectively transform into unexpected powerhouses. As you continue leading your team through unexpected challenges, remember to communicate your vision for transformation and reward behaviors that indicate adoption.

The success of every employer ultimately comes down to its people. And the teams that adapt the fastest will be the ones that boost productivity, meet their objectives, and keep the company moving forward.

Want to reskill employees and mobilize your workforce?
Check out Phenom Gigs to amp up your employee experience.

Kasey Lynch

Kasey is a content marketing writer, focused on highlighting the importance of positive experiences. She's passionate about SEO strategy, collaboration, and data analytics. In her free time, she enjoys camping, cooking, exercising, and spending time with her loved ones — including her dog, Rocky. 

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