Does Your Talent Marketplace Foster Internal Mobility? 3 Ways to Know

An internal talent marketplace can help with internal mobility, but the solution’s effectiveness depends on how it leverages skills data to remove barriers that discourage employees from seeking opportunities.

Companies are understandably struggling to hire amid a tight labor market, but the problem could very well be their own doing. Workers have cited the lack of opportunities for advancement among the biggest reasons for quitting their workplaces, and as a result, they’re more discerning when deciding their next career move. 

Given the competitive talent landscape combined with the rising costs related to talent and labor, organizations must rethink how they attract, nurture, and retain valuable workers. Companies can no longer rely on external recruiting to bring in much-needed skills to the organization. Instead, leaders must do more to effectively tap into the talent pipeline right in front of them: their employees. In other words, companies need to foster internal mobility.

Internal mobility is the movement of employees within the company to other roles, vertical or lateral, and opportunities to gain more skills. Ultimately, internal mobility encourages employees to stay engaged by knowing they can continually grow and take on new responsibilities that help the business. 

That’s why internal talent marketplaces are on the rise as an essential tool in an organization’s people strategy. The disruption of the labor market is pushing companies to match their internal talent supply to the growing demands of the business—which is, essentially, the function of an internal talent marketplace. 

What Is a Talent Marketplace? 

An internal talent marketplace is a human resources (HR) platform that matches a worker to a career opportunity, such as a job opening or temporary assignment, within the organization. Often part of a talent management system, a talent marketplace facilitates a cohesive employee experience by harmonizing internal movement to business strategy.

What Is the Key to Success in a Talent Marketplace?

In a 2022 survey of job seekers, more than half of those surveyed didn’t look at career opportunities within their own companies before seeking roles outside the organization. It reflects the underlying belief that workers don’t have an opportunity for growth in their current organization.

Workers are more likely to be engaged in the workplace when they feel they can continually grow and take on new responsibilities that help the business.

That sentiment is a contrast to how many companies perceive themselves. In another study, 86% of employers say they are looking internally to fill open roles, and 90% of large companies feel their employees have enough opportunities to job-hop within their organization.

These widely varying viewpoints demonstrate why an internal talent marketplace is needed.

With an internal talent marketplace, workers know there is a clear way to look for new positions in their company. What’s more, having an internal marketplace sends a message that it’s not just OK for employees to move internally, it’s downright encouraged.

But that doesn’t mean that just any internal talent marketplace will do. At Workday, we believe the success of an internal talent marketplace depends on how it harnesses skills data and machine learning.

Leveraging machine learning and data helps to improve everything from the quality of the skills data that’s being used to the ability to access that data about a worker’s desires and capabilities from other sources. What’s more, a strong machine learning core helps business leaders understand the multidimensional relationship between skills, personal career growth, and the needs of the business.

What Does an Internal Talent Marketplace Need to Counter Employee Attrition? 

A successful internal talent marketplace effectively addresses the barriers that prevent workers from applying to internal roles. These barriers include the belief that favored employees are selected for growth opportunities and the lack of encouragement and support from leadership for internal career movement.

Having an internal marketplace sends a message that it’s more than OK for employees to move internally, it’s downright encouraged.

Here are three ways an internal talent management system can enable company leaders to overcome those barriers and, as a result, make internal mobility a reality for the organization.

1. Understanding relationships between skills gives insight. For companies, the lack of insight into the skills that already exist within their organization is one of the biggest barriers to encouraging internal mobility. 

But structuring skills data through an ontology helps provide a universal language to understand skills, no matter where or how they were gained.     

A machine learning-powered ontology (such as our Skills Cloud technology) continually cleanses skills data by breaking down the components of what makes up a skill, connecting those components in relation to other skills, and relating those skills to other categories. For example, multiple descriptions exist for the same skill—common skills can have 20-plus synonyms. 

But by leveraging skills data structured through a machine learning-powered ontology, an internal talent marketplace can understand that a worker skilled in Microsoft Excel may also have skills in data analysis, reporting, and other tasks Excel is used for. This way, companies uncover the depth of skills in the organization and gain the insight needed for skills-based initiatives. 

And in turn, employees gain insight into the value of their skills in the organization. To continue the Excel example, that person might not have been comfortable applying for an internal data analyst position, but through a machine learning-powered ontology, they see that they are more experienced than they think.

That’s the idea behind Workday Talent Marketplace. Powered by the Skills Cloud ontology (which simplifies the library of skills for better insight for both workers and organizations), Workday Talent Marketplace enables workers and organizations to gain insight into the skills they currently have—both as a worker and as an organization—and where efforts should lie moving forward to reskill and upskill.  

2. Democratizing internal mobility. Another barrier to internal mobility, from the worker perspective, is the belief that only favored employees become aware of in-house opportunities, and as a result, job seekers automatically look outside their companies to build their skills.

But just like skills-based hiring, taking a skills-based approach helps democratize internal mobility. 

An internal talent marketplace can match an internal opportunity with workers who have the in-demand skills. But what makes those skills-driven matches effective in fostering internal mobility is the quality of those matches. In other words, the matches must feel personalized to employees and actionable for managers or others who are sourcing talent for the opportunity. 

Consider this: In Workday Talent Marketplace, workers get an analysis of their skills and what’s needed for a short-term assignment. The recommendations include a strength label: strong, good, fair, or low. The rating fosters visibility on the skills needed for the role, what skills the employee has, and what the missing skills are. So instead of changing employers to find growth opportunities, workers see how their skills match up to opportunities at the company. In addition, workers see areas where they can upskill to better grow their careers. 

3. Encouraging conversations to facilitate internal movement. Workers have said they lack support to make career moves within the organization. But a talent marketplace can help facilitate discussions that encourage internal movement.

As explained in the McKinsey report “Human Capital at Work: The Value of Experience,” workers grow their experience by making moves that build or demonstrate skills. These moves can involve switching to a new employer, taking on a new role in a company, or changing careers. Most of the moves—more than 80%—involved switching from one employer to another instead of internal movement into more senior roles or specializations.

“This seems to indicate that many employers do not have internal advancement tracks that are wide enough to keep most people growing and working toward higher rewards over time,” the McKinsey report stated. “Individuals who want to reinvent themselves and take on more senior roles often have to go to a new environment to do so.”

Companies will be better at adapting to change by embracing the idea that career movement is part of the overall work experience, the McKinsey report advises. 

“To ensure that proven employees don’t have to go elsewhere to advance, organizations should set the expectation that part of a manager’s job is developing people who will go on to other things,” the report continues. “Each role should have clear paths toward future roles, with skill requirements delineated at each stage.”

Employees are more likely to be engaged in the workplace when they have the visibility into how their skills are needed for the business.

With a talent marketplace, managers can experience positive benefits such as workers gaining new skills from short-term assignments and bringing them back to the team. The skill-based recommendations can also help facilitate conversations between managers and employees to explore additional internal opportunities. 

Career Growth Is a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder

Workers who quit amid the “Great Resignation” cited the lack of internal mobility as an aspect of a toxic work culture, the primary factor that drove workers to quit. 

Clearly, companies must regard internal mobility as a business imperative. With organizations needing to adapt quickly to sudden shifts in the business landscape, career journeys have become more like jungle gyms: Workers more often move into lateral roles so they can make an impact on the business and grow their career skills along the way. And fostering “jungle gym” career movement within the company depends on how the internal talent marketplace makes sense of skills data.

When done right, skills data enables talent marketplaces to provide a cohesive employee experience, one where employees have visibility into how their skills are needed for the business, leading to increased employee engagement and, most of all, improved employee retention in a tight labor market.

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