The way we organise work has been changing for some time. Hierarchical systems have been swept away, to be replaced by a much more network-based and flexible approach. The rise in remote and flexible working has allowed companies to recruit talent from around the world, and people to work on multiple projects at once. One of the key tools behind this has been internal marketplaces for talent and opportunities. 

Marketplaces can provide additional work hours for the business

At consumer goods company Unilever, employees share a ‘purpose statement’ on the marketplace, outlining their skills and desired skills. They can then access opportunities in projects, and managers can ‘shop for talent’ across the whole organisation. Individuals can take on multiple projects supported by their manager. This has given Unilever over 60,000 additional hours of work, and 95% of employees support the system.

Marketplaces can help to retain staff

Schneider Electrical found that 47% of people who left the company did so because they could not find a suitable opportunity within it. Its talent marketplace shares jobs and projects to provide new skills and experiences for employees. The platform also provides access to mentoring. More than 75% of employees are registered.

Marketplaces tap into people’s need to control their own destiny

Marketplaces effectively enable employees to find new opportunities that meet their needs. They, therefore, allow people the perception that they are influencing their own futures, known as agency. This is key for both long-term satisfaction and retention of employees. 

Marketplaces demonstrate businesses’ commitment to employees

Organisations and individuals alike recognise that the development of employee skills is a crucial part of any organisation’s strategy. However, only a third of respondents to a global survey said that they were rewarded for acquiring new skills. Marketplaces help to bridge this gap by allowing enterprises to make an obvious investment in their employees’ development and demonstrate commitment to them. In response, employees show loyalty, and willingness to give more.

Marketplaces can significantly improve employee performance 

Interestingly, marketplaces can be an important tool to improve ‘average’ performance among employees. Making more opportunities available can be the key to unlocking better performance. This may be partly because it improves alignment between individuals and organisational strategy, but also because sometimes simply helping people develop agency provides value.

So what do you need?

We’ve been looking at a number of B2B and internal marketplaces and saw a few immediate lessons. Our research during the rest of 2020 will focus on digging a little deeper into some of these initial impressions. 

Enterprise marketplace software solutions can support talent/opportunity matching – As more businesses have turned to enterprise marketplaces, software companies have increasingly recognised a gap in the market—and leapt to fill it. There are several vendors offering suitable products, and other packages in development. Arguably, the current leader is Gloat, with its Inner Mobility program, but this is a fast-moving field. 

Enterprise marketplaces do not have to be launched in a ‘big bang’ way – It is, of course, possible to launch an enterprise marketplace across an entire organisation. However, it is also possible to take a more structured approach. Schneider Electrical launched its talent marketplace first in its HR department, covering 2,300 people. It then expanded more widely in specific geographies (Singapore, Ireland and the UK) to cover more than 5,000 employees. This approach may be easier for some organisations to manage.

Enterprise marketplaces can use analytics to identify key skill development areas – Most of the current software offerings for talent marketplaces are powered by artificial intelligence. They offer some powerful analytics about which skills are most sought by employees—and whether the opportunities available allow them to develop those skills. Businesses can therefore ensure that their staff can develop the skills that they feel they need to do their jobs now and in future.

Analytics can also help to identify particularly good (or poor) opportunities – When employees can apply for particular opportunities of interest, it is easy to identify which projects are seen as the best (and worst) opportunities, and which offer the most and least skills development. Managers can therefore tailor their opportunities to attract the best staff, mixing and matching job requirements to desired skills development.

Leadership commitment is essential to marketplace success – As with all change management initiatives, organisations that have implemented an internal marketplace have observed that leadership commitment is essential. Managers needed to accept the need for staff to spend time on projects, and make opportunities available. Where training was offered via the platform, people were far more likely to do it if their manager did it first.

Be part of our study

We are optimistic about marketplaces in general. Our research during 2020 specifically focuses on B2B marketplace trends. We will be exploring the blurring boundaries between organisations’ internal and external resource matching. Our analysis will assess how these will lead to more agile workforces. 


Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

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  1. Pingback: A data-driven approach to micro-markets – Partner Cafe

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