Kasey LynchMarch 11, 2024
Topics: Employee Experience

How to Launch an Internal Gig Marketplace

Hiring great talent is essential to any organization’s success. But what are you doing to engage and retain them once they’ve become an employee? 

It’s no secret that the pandemic and the Great Resignation have both caused prolonged shifts in the availability of talent. However, this shift has had little impact on the easily accessible talent you already have. 

Instead of finding fresh employees, organizations can mobilize their internal employees to fill critical roles and meet evolving business needs. 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. 

Not only is it easier and less expensive to develop your talented employees, but you also create a competitive advantage by honing your best assets.

A well-designed internal gig marketplace can help businesses cultivate a culture of continuous learning in the workplace, boost employee engagement, and help improve retention, creating a more resilient and agile workforce. 

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

What’s 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. 

Gigs are short-term engagements within an organization that typically don’t involve a change in pay or job code.  

They may also be called projects or cross-functional team assignments (if you’re not into the whole brevity thing). While they will not 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 one or more employees 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 organization — 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. 

All of these available opportunities 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 streamlining how they apply for internal gigs and fill temporary vacancies. 

This whole process paves the way for growth and professional development of the employee within the organization. This 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. 

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, stretch and 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 program?

The best place to start is right at the top. A gig program 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 crucial aspects of a gig program that leaders should prioritize before implementation: 

1. Outline basic parameters. Take time out to plan necessary roles and systems for employees. 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 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.

They 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?

  • What are the benefits of a gig culture or gig economy when it comes to driving employee development and engagement?

  • 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 program 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. Does the description have enough of the right information? And does it garner interest without overloading the project requirements? 

In order to increase adoption, comfort, and consistency, provide talent managers with the opportunity to have their first few gigs reviewed. 

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, and 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. 

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 internal talent 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 program. 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. 

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 how:

  • 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.

  • 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. 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. 

  • 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, the emphasis is on adapting 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? Checkout 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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