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Taking a Gig Approach to Talent Mobility

Written By
Brendan Bresnahan
Senior Content Producer

As talent acquisition and talent management stakeholders around the world look to mitigate the business impact of 2020’s “new normal,” talent mobility has become increasingly important.

Recent discussions across our customer base have revealed that many of our largest enterprise clients – in the face of budget cuts and hiring freezes – have never been more cognizant of placing the right people, with the right skills, in the right positions and at the right time. Internal mobility marketplaces (also called “opportunity marketplaces”) are not only booming, but they are providing many of our clients with a significant competitive advantage as they continue to brave the turbulent aftermath of COVID-19. And although the concept of “mobility” is most often associated with the internal transition of talent and skills across business functions, teams and positions, this article will highlight the next logical step in the evolution of talent mobility:

Moving the gig economy in-house.

While project-based work has traditionally been reserved for contingent workers, consultants and independent contractors, successful talent mobility in our post-pandemic digital age will come to be defined by a multi-stage strategy capable of not only cutting costs through the development of internal talent, but one that can stimulate a philosophical shift in how organizations approach project-based work. The economic reality of contingent sourcing no longer makes business sense in the current environment. It’s time for organizations to begin upskilling their workforce and closing project-based skill gaps by offering employees the opportunity to participate in short-term gig work.

This post will provide a high-level overview of the three tiers we are recommending to our clients as they look to improve their talent mobility efforts in the face of pandemic uncertainty.

Tier One – Develop an Opportunity Marketplace

Beyond merely promoting employees or shifting them from one geographic territory to another, talent mobility in recent years has evolved with a laser-like focus on the development of robust internal talent pipelines and opportunity marketplaces. While traditional internal mobility programs tend to stress the mere act of discovering an organization’s hidden gems, internal mobility in 2020 is all about cost-effectively polishing those gems and preparing them for vertical, horizontal and, as mentioned in the introduction, even temporary/project-based opportunities.

Organizations are increasingly looking to reduce their sourcing and hiring costs. This means valuable time (i.e., at least two to three months for acquisition teams, a number of weeks for new hire onboarding and likely up to six months for full new hire productivity) – and key financial resources. As such, the development of opportunity marketplaces has become a top priority for many of our customers. As a digital platform engineered to offer employees a personalized, relevant and dynamic user experience, opportunity marketplaces prove highly effective in providing employees with the tools they need to develop new skills and redefine their professional growth. And while we have built opportunity marketplaces for many large enterprise organizations, perhaps the best example of employee empowerment and upskilling on a global scale is our work with the world’s largest cosmetic company, L’Oréal.

In 2018, after a number of internal surveys revealed a lack of opportunity visibility to be the leading factor behind employee churn, L’Oréal sought to drastically overhaul their approach to talent mobility. The goal was to give employees greater influence over their career trajectories by allowing them to more easily outline a professional pathway aligned with their individual aspirations. To do this while also increasing visibility and transparency on a global scale was no small task. Together with Avature, L’Oréal was able to build a robust opportunity marketplace across 70 countries that, in the two years since its launch, has empowered HR to have more meaningful career conversations with employees, while also encouraging employees to look both locally and internationally for the next important step in their continued career development.

Tier Two – Upskill Employees With Project-Based Assignments

While we often associate talent mobility with full-time, role-based employment, the need for agility in the face of the pandemic crisis has compelled many of our clients to begin incorporating more project-based, short-term positions into their internal opportunity marketplaces. And although our use of the word “compelled” may seem rather doom and gloom, from an HCM perspective, this is quite a positive development.

How so?

Well, putting aside for a moment the almost ubiquitous business necessity of curtailing acquisition and sourcing costs, it is important to recall that the modern workforce continues to move further and further away from the notion that careers are linear. As such, a shift to project-based and short-term internal sourcing makes perfect sense as it presents organizations with a unique opportunity to both upskill and evolve their workforce via non-linear mobility. It’s important to keep in mind the fact that nearly a third of the global workforce is already participating in an external side gig while hiring managers look to fill project-based roles. Doesn’t it make business sense to align the interests of both employer and employee? Maybe your organization has a content producer interested in UX, or a product specialist looking to learn more about technical writing. Why not take a chance and assign interested employees to short-term and value-driven projects that position them to provoke new and exciting career growth?

Tier two empowers employees to diversify their talents by allowing them to pursue project-based roles rooted in the core professional competencies they yearn to develop. Ultimately, it is the talent equivalent of killing two birds with one stone – and it is a stone that is particularly effective in reducing the expenses associated with project-based sourcing. It is only when acquisition stakeholders have reached the conclusion that specialized knowledge is not available internally and cannot be developed quickly enough to meet a specific need, that organizations should turn their attention towards external, contingent talent.

Tier Three – Leverage Direct Sourcing With a Contingent Talent Network

The final tier of our three-prong approach to talent mobility takes the same principles we applied in tier one and two, and focuses them on external, project-based contingent workers.

While contingent worker sourcing has traditionally been reserved for an organization’s procurement department (in collaboration with a Managed Service Provider or Recruitment Process Outsourcer), in recent years, many of our clients have shifted to a direct sourcing model via the implementation of a contingent talent network. Much like an opportunity marketplace assists our clients in their quest to develop and up-skill internal candidates, a contingent talent network aims to provide contingent workers with a branded, digital solution that engages and encourages the best contingent talent to come back in the future and apply for new projects/positions.

With the ability to create profiles, set minimum requirements for availability and compensation and receive updates from directly within the Avature portal, contingent talent networks empower both contingent candidates and enterprise organizations to an unmatched degree. Recent customer success stories include professional services trailblazers such as Accenture and Deloitte. Both organizations (Accenture globally and Deloitte in Australia) were able to successfully cut costs, improve time-to-fill and streamline administrative tasks through the implementation of Avature’s best-in-class contingent solution. While the future of work in the digital age may not rest entirely on the shoulders of the gig economy – as many thought-leaders predicted prior to 2020 – the application of the candidate/employee experience to the contingent community is a sourcing strategy that will continue to deliver value, particularly once the internal resources of tier one and two have been exhausted.

Tying It All Together

When leveraged and nurtured in harmony as strategic assets, internal and external talent pools have the potential to address the post-pandemic mobility challenges currently impacting global HCM. To learn more about our unique multi-stage approach to talent mobility – i.e., opportunity marketplaces, internal side gigs, contingent sourcing – don’t hesitate to contact our experts today, and be sure to have a look at our latest ebooks, infographics, guides and whitepapers.

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