You’ve seen all the buzz words of 2021, 2022. Now in 2023 Gartner is telling us the buzz will be “Quiet Hiring”1 and you should be ready. This could mean a lot less external hiring and a lot more looking inward for efficiency in talent mobility while expanding the employee experience to include talent marketplaces.
Looking at the Gallup Report, “State of the Global Workplace 2022” they estimate that $7.8 trillion is the cost to the global economy for workers with low engagement2, the so-called quiet quitters of 2022. Gallup reinforces the point by showing that loss is equal to 11% of GDP globally lost to untapped and unmotivated potential. How much of your company’s revenue do you want to contribute toward that statistic? My bet is none, I have some points on stopping the financial bleed.
The hiring of specialized skilled workers is in demand now more than ever and the workers with those skills know it. This will be their year to ask for a raise or promotion.3 The biggest reason for them to leave your business for a more competitive offer or better employee experience with talent mobility, is due to a lack of internal career mobility.4
There is great potential for adopting models such as: coaching circles, boundary spanning, dynamic skills strategy, talent mobility, capability academies, and on and on. What is right for you, your business, and your workers will vary and may have more to do with knowing exactly what your workers are learning and getting HR functions to stop teaching skills workers will never use.5 So you want to retain your skilled talent while also getting the potential out of your unmotivated employees, making you ready for the disruptions of 2023.
Talent Mobility and Talent Marketplaces are the future for the Employee Experience
If you are large business to enterprise level and you haven’t been shopping for a talent marketplace platform, you should be. The providers out there are promising ethical AI which will match employee data points for better employee experience overall. The testimonials themselves will leave you thinking, “I needed this done yesterday.” Not to mention that some even have expanded services that enhance the candidate, recruiter, manager, HR and HRIS experiences as well, all in ways which integrate with your learning management system (LMS) and total tech stack.
Talent Mobility vs Talent Marketplace.
Talent mobility is your businesses efficiency to know what skills your employees possess, the interests they have for their career, match that to positions and projects which need those skills and initiate those movements. Do this all while making the open positions transparent for employees to browse and turn career paths from ladders to personalized pathways.
Can your HR do this with a spreadsheet? Not reliably.
This is where the talent marketplace platform comes in. A talent marketplace provides this sort of agile growth of the employee experience while giving the business faster ways to adjust internally when change and disruption occurs.
The ethical AI it uses will match employee data points to allow managers access to talent data and show employees’ potential career paths based on that data. This may include how employees and their peers obtained roles, and may give better access to open positions they may want to apply for.
While a talent marketplace is designed for internal use, it wouldn’t surprise me if the future of marketplaces is partnered with companies sharing resources to allow the trading of and growth of individuals through multiple businesses.
How to Leverage Talent Mobility as a small business
Promises in AI for talent mobility are remarkable. And if ethically placed, it will add to your diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) goals to help discover places of underrepresented talent. The downfall is the AI needs enough data points to function in a talent marketplace platform. Anything below enterprise level business (typically 2000+ employees) will not have enough to meet the required level of data points. I know this – because I reached out for demos of talent marketplaces, and most wouldn’t follow through with a demo unless we were enterprise level. So, how does small business still implement the promises of a talent marketplace?
- A central person needs to collect (and sift through), visualize, and distribute the data.
You can all appreciate how tasking this could be, best to start early and scale as you go, group by group. The business should be able to know, at a moment’s notice, what their employees are skilled at to inform decisions on new projects, boundary spanning, vacant roles, and internal mobility. This can also help prevent issues such as managers talent-hoarding from the rest of the business.
The person who is tasked with this data can leverage tools like Microsoft Forms, Access, and Power Automate to make submissions, queries, compiling, and request notifications streamlined, efficient, and secure. The goal is to have a person in this role who is creative and innovative with their tech stack. Ultimately, everyone in the business should be able to rely on this person for understanding the skills within the company, including required certifications that may be required for technical roles and positions that can develop those certifications. This can help close hiring gaps. They will also need to determine who can develop by being the backup user who can continue the process as good succession planning. Which brings us to our second point.. they will likely uncover all the skills gaps in your teams, which could really hurt your ability to compete.
- Workers may not learn what the business needs, so the business needs to make that more transparent.
If you have a data steward that can access what skills, certifications, badges, awards, degrees, etc. that employees have, then the business can identify skills gaps in its existing teams. This can allow managers to better align development to the business during their regular one-on-one meetings with direct reports. However, lines of communication between the data, the executives, and the managers need to be clear so teams can close skill gaps or trade workers to better distribute skills. Most employees see change as improvement and not threat,6 so these lateral movements can help motivate the quiet quitters and aid in retention.
Employees need to know the skills the company needs so they understand what to develop. A lot of modern L&D and HR initiatives in the last decade have focused on providing a “Choose what you want” style of learning by giving access to large learning libraries. The problem is they often don’t understand what employees are actually learning nor what the business needs them to learn. (See the section below of dynamic skills strategy if you always feel like you are playing catch up to what is needed.).
- Make it easier to find a job internally than externally.
Over 50% of employees surveyed by Deloitte said they think it would be “easier” to “much easier” to get a new job externally to their organization than it would be internally.7 Make sure your business isn’t too rigid in its ways and empower hiring managers to look internally. It is a good time to assess if your managers are intentionally preventing the visibility of available roles to their direct reports. They should be promoting the sharing of talent and skills across areas of the company and not preventing it.
Managers are good at boundary spanning but they aren’t good at promoting that habit with their direct reports. When your employees have more movements between teams, they can build a network with others and their understanding of more of the business. Make sure employees understand how to see all the open opportunities in the business so when they have those one to ones with their manager, they can bring it up as well.
- Your managers need better support to be 2023 ready.
Managing in 2023 is very different than managing 10, 5, or even 1 year ago. Mounting pressure from their direct reports to provide better clarity of culture and opportunity plus increasing pressure from above to implement executive vision is creating conflict for the manager.
Managers today need support to meet the skill requirements of today and they need it through transparency of their role. Businesses need to assess the manager skill gaps of their own teams and be clearer (or more directive) of manager priorities and how they utilize their time.
It shouldn’t be assumed that because someone is in a manager position they are always able to manage efficiently amidst the ambiguity. Such ambiguity, I believe, which tends to be artificially created because someone higher up is either unfamiliar or afraid on how to be clear and direct with their middle managers. But maybe that’s just a hot take.
Dynamic Skills Strategy.
Gartner’s Mary Baker writes a wonderful article on this, Stop Training Employees in Skills They’ll Never Use (gartner.com). It details the common HR and L&D pitfalls of trying to react or predict the skills employees should develop. The point is neither approach works and both have their downfalls. A dynamic (definition: characterized by constant change, activity, or progress) skills strategy is an approach that highlights some of our earlier points.
It utilizes cross-organization networks and taps into the stakeholders who are seeing the trends as they emerge, you don’t have to predict the future or react after the change has occurred, you can hear it as it happens. This strategy encourages switching to ways of accelerating learning when the need for a skill arises, such as people who possess those skills doing the teaching or looking for people who already have adjacent skills to help accelerate learning the new needed skill.
The last point Baker makes of successful implementation of a dynamic skills strategy is the transparency to the employee of what skills the organization needs along with what skills are no longer necessary and what need areas are unknown now. These points lead to improvements in performance, effort, and have 75% of new skills applied by employees compared to 54% in a reactive strategy and just 37% in a predictive strategy.
Coaching circles to create better coaches in your business.
Coaching circles provide the experience of being both the coach and the client done as a group. It should align to four key parts and participants should filter their expectations through them. The business needs, developing skills/capabilities to those needs, peer learning, and common desire for growth.
Each individual brings an identified behavior, skill, or capability they want to develop to the group. They then explain what they want to accomplish and what success looks like along with the experiences they’ve planned for successful practice of it. This way they are also learning how to create and analyze the metrics and KPIs that define successful development against how it benefits the business needs. The rest of the group acts as the coach. They provide feedback of performance, positive reinforcement, and suggestions on what else to try, adjust, or change. It goes around the whole group, the team learns how to coach together, so they can better do it individually for their own direct reports.
You could implement them as a whole manager group or split between an in-office group and a remote group to better mirror the type of coaching your teams do. It should be a voluntary experience and people can join/leave based on schedule and workload (but they do work better with regularity). If this is brand new to everyone, find a person that can function as mediator, helping schedule, align to business needs by being a bridge for the executive’s voice, and coach the group constructively through this new experience until it is self-sustaining.
Why not bring in a professional leadership coach? Many leaders choose to hire private coaches to help boost and guide their own careers. Some businesses even hire consultants to provide coaching to their leaders. Hiring a Leadership consultant for a half or full day can average between $4,000 and $10,000. It may be high value to the individuals coached who can afford it but it’s also time consuming and costly making the ROI calculation difficult for businesses. Plus, how many of your leaders will learn how to be great coaches in just a half or full day session, or develop in a skill they need? It just won’t compare to having many experiences over time with a consistent group.
Providing in-house coaching circles is not only financially responsibly to the ROI, but it also probably aligns to some of your business core values. Turning those who participate into better coaches for themselves, the peer group, and to the rest of the company.
Don’t know what skills to start with? Executives can better voice business needs to help you choose or you can use sources of discovery such as, the core leadership skills according to the Center for Creative Leadership:
- Self-awareness – How your behaviors impact others and organizational outcomes.
- Communication – How you communicate needs, tasks, responsibilities, etc. and inspire trust.
- Influence – Your ability to persuade, promote, and delegate.
- Learning agility – You know when to change course and help others do so, you possess a growth mindset.
I was recently reading an HR publication and a sentiment was brought up about stopping the practices of hiring people that fit your business and starting to remake your business to fit attracting the best hires out there. A simple point that immediately had my brain daydreaming about the impact that could have for sustaining high performing teams.
Whichever path you choose, you want to retain talent by providing career mobility and better development. You can enhance the success of this if it is partnered with stakeholders to transparently display the skills that match business needs dynamically and not reactively or preemptively guessing. What is needed as it emerges? Who has that skill? Who desires to learn that skill for their career path? Know those answers and then utilizing the potential of your workers will help retain them, train them when needed in what is needed, and enhance trust and productivity.
Remember back to the beginning, does your business want to be contributing to that $7.8 trillion in lost revenue each year from low engaged, unmotivated employees? Or do you want to be the business where everyone wants to work, and people don’t need to leave to find opportunity?
Bradley is an experienced IT trainer and facilitator with expertise in coaching, leadership, instructional design, and group facilitation. He is certified as a Microsoft Office Associate, in CompTIA ITF+, a Microsoft Certified Trainer, along with agile and service adoption trained.