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January 19, 2023

How An Internal Talent Marketplace Can Help Alleviate Retention Challenges

The Great Resignation may be cooling, but people are still leaving their jobs. The labor market remains challenging, with one in five workers sharing they're ready to quit. With 20% of the global workforce openly stating they have plans to leave their organizations, the time to reexamine HR strategies is now. For many organizations, meeting the development […]

The Great Resignation may be cooling, but people are still leaving their jobs. The labor market remains challenging, with one in five workers sharing they're ready to quit. With 20% of the global workforce openly stating they have plans to leave their organizations, the time to reexamine HR strategies is now.

For many organizations, meeting the development and career desires of existing employees can be difficult. This isn’t great news when the lack of career development opportunities and advancement pathways are the top reasons people leave their jobs. What’s worse is that much of the time, it isn’t because career development and advancement opportunities are not available—it's because they’re not obvious.

As an HR professional, have you ever observed an exit interview from an employee that stated, “There are no development or career path advancement opportunities,” and been baffled because there were plenty of opportunities available within the organization? I believe this happens more frequently than it should due to the lack of visibility into these opportunities at the employee level.

Beyond the usual worker concerns that come along with entering a period of economic recession, 58% of employees have said they are concerned they will lose their job due to a lack of training or skills. This means a majority of the workforce doesn’t want to be left behind in an uncertain and ever-changing operating environment.

So, more than half of workers are troubled by a lack of training and advancement opportunities, while one-fifth of workers are ready to leave their organizations, especially if professional development initiatives are unavailable. With this in mind, organization and HR leaders should ask themselves the following questions:

1. Does my organization know what skills, interests and aspirations each individual employee has and what skills each individual employee needs?

2. Does my organization provide visibility into opportunities that will allow employees to move around the organization and learn new skills?

3. Does my organization first use internal talent to fill roles, or do we primarily fill roles with external candidates?

In my experience, if the organization is already doing these things well—for example, it understands employee goals and skills, provides visibility into opportunities and focuses on utilizing internal talent—it’s likely the organization is considered to be high performing overall. However, if that’s not the case, an internal talent marketplace may be able to help.

McLean & Company defines an internal talent marketplace as "a technology-enabled platform that uses artificial intelligence to match people to opportunities based on their skills, interests, and aspirations." It offers improved transparency of available opportunities, using an algorithm to recommend relevant opportunities based on an employee’s skills and interests match, rather than relying on managers to assign opportunities based on who and what they know. This provides many employees with access to development opportunities, learning experiences, mentorship opportunities, projects and potential roles that they may have otherwise been unaware of or that may have been given to someone else via an informal and subjective selection process.

While a new piece of technology may not be in the budget, there are plenty of ways to take a skills-based talent-sharing approach to work that don’t involve the purchase of new technology. HR has been matching people to opportunities for years. That is not a new HR function; it’s the tech advancements that are new. The marketplace approach can still be used without the technology, it just won’t involve the efficiencies of an artificial intelligence-enabled platform.

In a nutshell, a talent marketplace platform matches people to opportunities. But in addition to a clearly defined purpose, an internal talent marketplace also requires two main conditions to be successful and help stave off resignation issues:

1. A culture of talent-sharing and a true appetite for a high level of internal mobility: In my experience, shifting the mindset of managers to one of talent-sharing is critical to success. By comparison, talent hoarding "holds back an employee, closing the doors to opportunities and limiting their career growth," according to If an employee has an easier time finding an advancement opportunity outside of your company, talent hoarding may be the problem. In a situation like this, a manager may believe their intentions are in the right place, as they are simply trying to keep a skilled employee. Unfortunately, this can cause employees to look for opportunities elsewhere.

2. A skills-based approach to work: Updated job descriptions can help you capture “hot” skills and should remove unnecessary or inflated education and experience requirements where possible. A simplified job architecture can create consistency of job titles and levels that will be used in the talent marketplace platform. An accurate and up-to-date skills inventory can also help you understand the current state of skills across the organization.

Several organizations are already taking advantage of an internal talent marketplace to combat the Great Resignation. An organization can benefit from recruiting current employees for new roles, as the individual's productivity levels and ability to drive results are already known. Current employees are also already familiar with the culture and processes of the company, which can speed up ramp-up time.

Businesses are applying talent marketplace dynamics using AI to unlock productivity, accelerate innovation and maximize inclusion. In an interview with McLean & Company, Watson Stewart—global head of talent solutions and global head of early careers and talent accelerators at Standard Chartered Bank—said it best when he shared that for organizations just getting started, “talent marketplace is not about the technology... Creating a marketplace that is thriving is really all about changing culture, changing leadership behavior, and really encouraging colleagues to put the hand up to own and develop their own careers.”

Whether you do it with the new AI-powered technology now available or via the tried-and-true hands-on approach, having a strong mechanism to match employees with roles and other growth opportunities based on their skills, interests and aspirations is a powerful vision for the future of work. An internal talent marketplace may just be the ticket HR teams need to address retention woes from the inside.

Article written by:  Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family. Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.
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