Should You Create an AI-Powered Talent Marketplace?
After years of upheaval that have redefined society, business and work, we’ve entered a period some call the “Great Reflection.” During this era of mindfulness, employees everywhere are reevaluating what they truly want from their career and their employer. In response, companies are investing more heavily in workforce retention strategies. For instance, the internal talent marketplace concept is rapidly gaining momentum.
Why marketplaces? CIPD research says 30% of employers intend to increase wages in 2023. This is certainly one way to show people you value them. Who wouldn’t appreciate competitive compensation? But many people are looking for deeper reasons to stay onboard. As a result, more companies are focusing on employees’ career development concerns.
According to Gallup, 76% of people are seeking opportunities for professional growth. At the same time, modern businesses know they can’t advance their agenda without a future-ready workforce.
That’s why now is a good time to invest in an internal talent marketplace. This kind of solution offers multiple pathways to develop more skilled, innovative individuals and teams. But how can you accomplish this in a way that is cost-efficient, personalized, and accessible? This is our story…
Inside a Talent Marketplace: One Example
To accelerate internal mobility, Schneider Electric, a global leader in integrated energy solutions, has developed and deployed an Open Talent Market (OTM). This marketplace leverages leading-edge technology to help retain talent and stimulate employee growth.
OTM is an AI-driven career development and internal mobility platform that matches workforce skills and ambitions to opportunities across the organization. First, employees describe their current skills and past experiences, as well as their future aspirations. Then OTM provides information about relevant open positions, part-time projects, and possible mentors.
The platform also offers career planning capabilities. For example, people can explore potential career paths and establish short-term development tracks to address immediate upskilling needs or develop new skills for the future.
How the OTM Process Works
This talent marketplace is open to all connected employees at Schneider Electric, and through pilot programs for shop floor employees who don’t have daily access to a work computer. With artificial intelligence as its backbone, OTM manages the entire experience at speed and at scale.
To get started, employees create a profile in the platform, which can be based on a LinkedIn profile or resume upload. Next, they can edit and expand their profile information, adding appropriate skills, experiences, interests and development areas. The more data an employee includes, the better the AI results will be.
Schneider Electric embraces the “3E” development framework – Experience (70%), Exposure (20%), and Education (10%). And because OTM is so easy to use, employees can independently explore upskilling and development opportunities that align with each of these learning methods.
Talent Marketplace Benefits
In addition to improving talent development and mobility, this solution has formalized the way our organization manages its internal gig economy. Now, by offering part-time projects through OTM, the company can unlock hours from employees who are eager to work on stretch assignments.
But the real beauty of this talent marketplace comes from its underlying AI, which makes it possible for anyone to discover opportunities that might not otherwise have been considered.
Too often in the past, finding a new position or mentor was all about who you knew. Now, it’s about transparency. That means everyone has access to a broader spectrum of opportunities that might not have been visible previously.
At the same time, the AI personalizes the matching process. In other words, it helps employees focus on opportunities that fit their unique skills and interests, instead of requiring them to filter through a sea of options. This levels the playing field and accelerates the talent matching process by identifying the strongest possibilities, regardless of current role or business unit.
Preparing to Support Internal Mobility
An effective talent marketplace depends on a culture that is open to internal mobility. For many organizations, this requires a significant mindset shift before and during the rollout.
At Schneider, the end goal is to retain our employees by placing them in opportunities that are best suited to their skills and help them continue to grow. This is why we strive to foster open dialogue among employees, current managers, and hiring managers about internal mobility and talent development.
To set the stage for OTM, we adjusted several key policies and procedures, and built OTM logic to support our business objectives:
- To help employees pursue new opportunities more on their terms, we’ve removed minimum “time in current role” requirements, as well as the need for a manager’s approval when applying for a new position.
- To encourage actionable communication about opportunities, we ask internal candidates to receive feedback about any application, regardless of its outcome. In the past, this was not occurring consistently.
- To support continuous learning and development, we request that employees dedicate 10-15% of their time to projects outside of their current role.
- When using OTM for career planning, employees can see possible career paths based on several criteria, including their desired roles, typical paths that others in their current role have pursued, or whether they’re interested in moving into management. Within those paths, they can see existing open positions, as well as skill development opportunities to help prepare for future roles.
- In addition, employees can use OTM to build shorter-term career tracks based on skills or experiences they want to gain or a specific position they want to pursue:
- A track based on skills and experiences lets employees browse available opportunities, as well as courses offered in our learning management system.
- A track based on positions lets employees select a specific position they’d like to pursue. Then the AI compares market data to find the skills most often applied in that role and identifies which of those skills the employee already has and indicates any gaps. The platform then suggests available projects, mentors and courses in our LMS that could help an employee fill those gaps.
- Lastly, OTM is not a one-way street. The AI helps employees uncover matched opportunities. But it also lets recruiters and project owners discover candidates with a skill or experience needed for a position or project role. This feature required change management to ensure that our managers perceive it as a tool that enhances internal mobility, rather than “poaching.”
Talent Marketplace Results
To-date, 80,000 Schneider Electric employees are registered OTM users. And since its launch in May 2020, this solution has helped more than 26,000 employees connect with projects, positions or mentorship assignments.
OTM has been a highly effective way to actively involve employees in managing their careers. It supports people as they develop, grow, and shape their future. And it helps the organization more fully utilize talent, while strengthening engagement and retention. At Schneider, our commitment to a world-class talent marketplace is leading to a brighter future, all around.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In developing this article, Jessica Staggs collaborated with Michele Egan, Open Talent Market Digital Transformation Lead at Schneider Electric