When we think of the “gig economy,” we usually think of platforms like Uber, Deliveroo, Fiverr, or Freelancer.com, which offer users flexible, contingent work on a piece or project basis. Taking a broader view, however, the advent of the gig economy has also had an impact on the way traditional employers think about meeting their talent needs. In our research at Gartner, over the past several years we have seen a number of organizations experiment with new models of hiring, engaging, and assigning workers, inspired by the gig economy. At our ReimagineHR event in London last week, Gartner Practice Leader Thomas Handcock walked HR leaders through several of these models and discussed how they might leverage them in their organizations as well.
Internal Career Marketplaces
Compelling career paths and opportunities to learn and grow within the organization are increasingly important aspects of the employee value proposition, particularly—though by no means exclusively—for Millennial employees. The stereotype of the Millennial job-hopper reflects the notable desire among employees of this generation for a greater variety of experiences in their careers. If your organization can’t offer employees this range of experiences and opportunities to acquire new skills, they are likely to seek them elsewhere: Lack of development opportunities is among the leading drivers of attrition for employees worldwide, Gartner’s Global Talent Monitor data show.
To address this demand for development and variety, innovative employers are making it easier for their workers to find their next job within the company rather than outside it, through internal career marketplaces. These marketplaces, which at companies like HCL Technologies operate through digital platforms, can help employees plot their career paths and understand what internal moves they need to make to reach the position they desire. This allows them to develop their careers more rapidly or grow in new directions more easily without changing employers. For the employer, these internal labor markets offer an effective way to retain and develop high-potential employees. Internal hires for new roles also require less onboarding and come with the benefit of pre-existing institutional knowledge and alignment with the organization’s culture. (Gartner Corporate Leadership Council members can learn more about HCL’s Career Connect portal in our case study.)
Tours of Duty
Another technique employers are using to innovate in career pathing is the tour of duty. Instead of hiring an employee into a role indefinitely, in this model, the employee signs up for a specific assignment within a constrained timeframe—for LinkedIn, a pioneer of this practice, the timeframe is three years. The organization clearly defines for the employee what they are expected to learn and accomplish within that period, while promising to enhance their future employability and help them transition into their next role once their tour is complete, whether internally or externally. Companies that have used this model include Yahoo, Jolt, and LinkedIn. (Corporate Leadership Council members can check out our case study of LinkedIn here.)
For employees, the value proposition of the tour-of-duty model entails a well-defined step forward in their careers with a moderate amount of job security, without tying them down to an indefinite commitment (In today’s business environment, it is not uncommon for early- or mid-career employees to change jobs every three years or so anyway). The employee has clear, time-specific goals to measure themselves against and can count on the organization to help them make their next move. Likewise, tours of duty benefit employers by allowing them to make time-limited commitments and more deliberately design employees’ career paths.
Internal Project-Based Platforms
Some organizations have experimented successfully with applying the gig economy platform model internally. Internal platforms for project work, such as Intel’s Development Opportunity Tool, allow employees to apply for short-term assignments within the company, devoting either all or part of their work hours to a specific project for a defined period of time, usually a few months. The projects are advertised to employees as opportunities to develop specific skills and knowledge. On the management side, managers can seek out internal candidates for these projects based on their skills, interests, and availability.
At Intel, the Development Opportunity Tool has helped the company become more innovative and less siloed. It offers employees the opportunity to build knowledge and relationships in other parts of the business without making complete lateral moves. Again, lack of development is one of the main reasons employees leave their jobs, so creating opportunities for them to try new jobs and learn new skills can be a valuable component of a retention strategy. For managers, meanwhile, the platform makes it easier to fill project-specific skills gaps on their teams. (Gartner Learning & Development Leadership Council members can read our Intel case study here.)
Talent Sharing with Partner Organizations
This last example is something many organizations are already doing as part of their leadership development programs. In these talent sharing programs, high-potential employees at one organization are seconded to partners of that organization such as suppliers or business-to-business customers. Talent sharing is particularly valuable for companies in need of non-traditional talent that isn’t easily found within their own industries. The value proposition for the employee comes once again in the greater range of experiences it offers: Comcast’s rotational internship program, for example, lets employees work with several local startups that work with the Philadelphia-based telecommunications giant. The program is designed to help the company compete with Silicon Valley for tech talent, to whom it is presented as an opportunity to work at four technology companies rather than just one. (Corporate Leadership Council members can read our full case study on Comcast’s attraction partnership program.)