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Bring the gig economy in-house with an internal marketplace

The "Great Reshuffle" is not just the latest buzz phrase. It's a real-world phenomenon impacting organizations and employees everywhere.

In 2020, more than half of all LinkedIn users (54%) changed their job titles. People worldwide are making life-changing decisions about where and how they want to work – and for who. 

Is it time for organizations to panic, or to innovate?  

LinkedIn CEO, Ryan Roslansky, recently described the time we're in as an "unprecedented moment in the history of work" – and smart organizations are seizing this moment to explore solutions and approaches they have never tried before.

The internal talent marketplace is one area where businesses have been looking for inspiration in building a future-ready workforce.

What is an internal talent marketplace?

We are all familiar with the idea of project-based work delivered by consultants, contingent workers and independent contractors. Platforms like Fiverr and Upwork allow companies to increase their agility by hosting a marketplace where they can secure freelance services for quick projects and gigs.

Now imagine that, but in-house. 

It's a platform that connects employees with available short-term opportunities (gigs) within their very own organization. The foundation of an internal marketplace leverages your existing employee.

How does an internal talent marketplace work?

Like all marketplaces, they should add value to buyers and sellers, and an internal talent marketplace should be no different. However, instead of exchanging money for goods, it's knowledge to meet business goals. 

Employees who access the marketplace should gain visibility to opportunities based on their interests, experience, and capabilities. This may include:

  • Gig work; short-term or temporary projects that allow employees to use their untapped skills or to seek out colleagues with a specific skill 
  • Encourages collaboration and connection between employees and subject-matter experts (colleagues)
  • Visibility to open positions that provide career advancement and changes 
  • Access to dynamic teams or new teams that want to pair people with projects fast 
  • A better understanding of the organization as a whole through added transparency and current business needs

To deploy an internal gig economy within your organization, you'll first need an effective platform to identify all internal talent and knowledge experts. Then when an employee is looking for a solution or opportunity, they’ll reference the internal gig marketplace and access your organization's whole network to find the colleague best fit to help complete the task, solve the problem or deliver a piece of work.

This is what world-leading organizations are currently looking to add in-house.

Pros and cons of the internal gig economy

An internal gig marketplace offers solutions to urgent business problems, but can it also add challenges? Let's look at the pros and cons of adding this type of platform. 

Pro: Become more agile

As the world and technologies change - organizations need to as well. A platform like this can harness and contextualize the massive amounts of data you have to identify who knows what about what, giving your organization access to real-time workforce insights and the ability to respond quickly through better skill management.

Pro: Enhance internal mobility

Giving your workers opportunities that excite and encourage them to stay within your organization improves their employee experience. In addition, you save time accessing opportunities from within your organization's talent pool. 

Pro: Create an environment attractive to Gen Z and Millennials

A 2018 McKinsey report identified four core behaviors distinguishing Gen Z (roughly those born between 1995 and 2010) workers from previous generations. One of these behaviors is "Communaholic." Gen Zers, the report found, continually flow between communities and do not distinguish between friends they meet online or in person.

By 2025, they will make up an estimated 27% of your workforce. So why not start adapting the way you collaborate in your organization to suit their needs? Creating an enterprise community where colleagues connect based on their experience and knowledge will foster a workplace of collaboration and an environment attractive to the growing population of Gen Z employees. 

Pro: Increase collaboration

Employees work together effectively to meet each other's needs. Whether seeking a new exciting short-term project or someone trying to staff one, an internal marketplace is an effective platform where colleagues can quickly come together.

Pro: Break up silos 

Our Productivity Drain Research Report 2021 revealed a growing silo problem at work, with 65% of respondents saying that their ability to ask questions and share knowledge with people in other departments was "excellent" or "good." Some organizations try to get around the problem by creating squads. While this can increase cross-collaboration, employees still struggle to access the knowledge they need, especially if it requires reaching out to colleagues outside of their current network.

An internal gig economy gives workers a direct link to other people who can help solve the problem, no matter their team or squad. This not only cuts through existing silos but also fosters a culture of cross-collaboration, creating a more agile workforce.

Pro: Unlock your most valuable asset - employee knowledge

Experts estimate that 70% to 90% of all data in organizations is ROT (redundant, outdated or trivial). It's why employees waste so much time hunting for the answers they need. The average knowledge worker spends an astonishing 36% of their time consolidating and searching for information.

A marketplace that enables employees to identify and collaborate with colleagues to solve business problems fast increases your organization's productivity and innovation. 

Con: Ensure employee engagement

Just because your organization is enthusiastic about this new implementation doesn't mean employees will. Employees may have skepticism. They may feel like they already have enough on their plate and that this is just "another tool" or way to pile more onto their existing workload. 

However, there are ways to prevent a lack of engagement. It just requires additional efforts upfront that will benefit your organization in the long term. 

  • Incentivize employees to use the platform. 
  • Properly integrate the tool into your organization by announcing the new adoption and providing all the information and benefits it brings. And lastly,
  • Create an initiative for managers to incorporate it into their employees' existing work (the latter leads us to our next point).

Con: Secure manager buy-in

Managers must see the value that an internal gig marketplace brings to the organization and their employees' experience. Management may see this as a distraction for employees from their "real work." If employees are eager to adopt the platform and managers aren't, employees may default to their manager's wishes to avoid tension. 

Again, this is not really a con. When implementing, proper communication of benefits to managers is necessary for their buy-in. It shouldn't be hard, as an internal gig marketplace gives managers access to the organization's whole talent pool, not just the people in their team.

The Key to success in the internal talent marketplace

For an organization to have success with its marketplace it must be active, safe, and fun.

  • An active market: Successful markets have both buyers and sellers. Meaning your internal gig economy must support employees looking for opportunities and solutions. Without both, there will be no knowledge exchange or collaboration, leaving your internal marketplace stagnant.
  • A safe market: The objectives of your marketplace must align with your workplace culture. If there is a disconnect between the two, employees may feel uncomfortable using the platform. 
  • A fun market: Creating fun initiatives that encourage the use of your marketplace is a great way to solidify employee use and early adoption. But, when employees start seeing results with solutions and opportunities, they are more likely to return.

Ready to start thinking Gig?

In most organizations, finding the right colleague to solve a problem takes an average of one to four days. We think it should take just a few clicks. That’s why we’ve developed our new module, Starmind Gigs. It incorporates everything we’ve learned from a decade of building knowledge collaboration products, to recreate an internal talent marketplace and a gig dynamic within your organization and unleashes the power of all your employees. 

Find out more