Kasey LynchNovember 22, 2023
Topics: Employee Experience

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

In a rapidly changing economy that demands the constant reskilling of workers, the future of hiring belongs to companies that can access and quickly deploy talent to the greatest area of need.

But internal talent often gets overlooked. How can companies unlock the hidden skills among their people to keep them engaged, improve agility, and lower costs? Talent Strategist Edie Goldberg has some answers.

Get all of her insights in the video below, or read on for the highlights.

Employee Retention Requires Changing the Playbook

It’s no secret that today’s labor market is challenging across the board. Industries like technology, hospitality, and retail are experiencing critical talent shortages. “Employers are struggling to recruit and retain talent. At the same time, we’re seeing a huge acceleration in hiring trends,” Goldberg said.

These include lower candidate volume, higher competition for talent, candidate ghosting, and escalating employee expectations regarding work experience.

Goldberg’s conclusion? We need to fundamentally change the way we work. She co-authored The Inside Gig to give HR leaders a playbook to do just that.

The Surprising Truth About Employee Productivity

Goldberg — an industry veteran who’s spent nearly a decade consulting about the future of work — was inspired to write The Inside Gig in response to some troubling statistics:

  • Productivity growth is slower today than at the beginning of the 21st century

  • 64% of employees reported that they are not engaged at work

“That means you’re leaving a lot of productivity on the table because we know that,” Goldberg said.

By reverse-engineering the engagement problem, it becomes clear that companies are not doing a very good job of delivering on employee expectations. Goldberg shared these findings:

  • 2 out of 3 millennials believe they aren’t fully using their skills at work

  • 42% said they’re likely to leave an organization if they don’t feel like they’re learning

  • 93% said they’d stay longer if the company invested in their career

“We need to fundamentally rethink how work gets done to make big leaps in productivity,” she said. “We need to help employees develop so that we can retain them longer. And we need to leverage all of our employees’ skills and experiences, not just the ones that they use in their day-to-day job.”

Related resource: 6 Elements for a Meaningful Employee Experience

Help Employees Escape Talent Hoarding and Poaching

Traditionally, employers and managers tend to box employees into their roles. We tie them to specific duties, expectations, and management goals without much regard for individual career aspirations. This leads to boredom, disengagement, and feeling “stuck,” Goldberg pointed out.

It can also lead to talent hoarding or talent poaching. Talent hoarding is when a manager keeps top employee(s) on their team, and isn’t open to the idea of their talents supporting a different area of the business where there may be a critical need — which in turn can limit that employee’s opportunities and/or the growth of the company as a whole. Internal talent poaching is when other teams within the company attempt to recruit a valuable employee to their team.

Most managers who participate in talent hoarding aren’t doing so maliciously — often, they are just happy with their employee’s work ethic and productivity and don’t want to “lose” them to another team or role within the organization.

Instead of this strategy, Goldber suggests imagining a different way of working, one that focuses less on formal structures, boundaries, and job descriptions. It’s an agile approach tied to increased engagement — and better work outcomes.

At the same time, talent poaching can be done tactfully — it’s best practice for the hiring manager interested in an employee to discuss that employee’s potential internal career change with their current manager instead of blindsiding the manager with the “loss” of their star employee.

“By changing the way work gets done, we can get projects completed faster with improved outcomes because we are looking at matching the right talent to the right work without constraining people to the confines of their job,” Goldberg said.

Here’s what organizations need to make this happen:

  • A new way of viewing talent mobility that allows people to take on different job roles, gain hands-on experience, and temporarily focus on building new skills

  • Full transparency into all of these opportunities, organization-wide using a skills ontology and workforce intelligence technology

  • Equal chance for all employees to access these opportunities — not just the ones who “know the right people”

With a talent marketplace, organizations can easily achieve these goals, resulting in happier, more productive employees who want to stay and grow at the company.

Related reading: Boosting Employee Retention and Mobility with a Talent Marketplace

You Get What You Give: What Happens When Managers Share Talent

One of the core principles Goldberg explores in her book is, “You get what you give.” What exactly does that mean?

“When a manager gives their employees time to work on a project outside of their day-to-day job, what they get in return is talent from elsewhere in the organization who has the energy, the enthusiasm, or the skills that they need to get a critical project completed,” Goldberg explained.

A great way to encourage skills development is through internal gigs or projects. Gigs allow organizations to unleash talent within their organization and quickly upskill, reskill, and engage employees — at scale.

Shifting the Mindset from Talent Scarcity to Talent Abundance

Despite the advantages of a flexible approach to internal talent mobility, managers are resistant to sharing talent and are afraid of talent poaching by others at the company. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, 50% of managers in general and 74% of managers in low-performing companies are not in favor of moving employees into new roles.

To innovate on talent mobility, managers need to shift their mindset from talent scarcity (i.e., talent hoarding or talent poaching) to talent abundance, where they view all the talent across the organization as a potential source for reaching team goals.

How can organizations encourage this mindset shift? Storytelling is one way, Goldberg said, where HR leaders share success stories like the case study above. Communicating the following benefits of an internal talent marketplace can also have a huge impact:

  • Increased organizational productivity with a process that gets projects quickly staffed with the right talent

  • Employees get personalized learning experiences by opting into projects that match their interests or career aspirations

  • Stronger employee engagement by giving employees the experience they want — opportunities outside the confines of their jobs and connections with mentors to increase their learning and development

Discover Untapped Talent Through Gigs

Utilizing internal talent to fill short-term job requirements is just one way to build a more agile workforce, build diverse skills, and fill skills gaps. With both employers and employees benefiting from gig work, it's easy to see why an internal talent marketplace is a valuable addition to the employee experience.

Ready to help your employees reach their fullest potential? Request a demo to see Phenom Talent Marketplace in action!

If you’re interested in diving deeper into employee skills, view our Skills Day content on demand.

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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