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A new way to work
A non-profit institution known for clinical research had a big problem.
Lab technicians who worked with genetically engineered mice were leaving to support pharmaceutical firms in the development of COVID-19 vaccines. Replacing them with qualified candidates was proving to be nearly impossible in a competitive job market.
“We approached the solution by looking at people who work in this role—who they are, where they started, what they’ve done,” says Ram Subramanian, Global Head, Human Capital and ServiceNow Business Unit, TCS. “We looked for patterns and discovered exact or adjacent husbandry skills in a thriving goat production industry. This enabled us to target a set of candidates nobody else was looking at.”
Recruiting lab technicians from goat farms to fill open positions perfectly exemplifies the innovative thinking required of human resources (HR) officers, especially as it becomes clear that hybrid work models splitting employees’ time between home and corporate offices—an approach popularized by positive aspects of our global experiment with remote work—are not actually the new normal. Rather, they’re the start of a new beginning in a boundaryless revolution that will not just change where people work, but also virtually every aspect of the way employees manage their careers.
That’s because this new beginning is leading us to the talent cloud. Instead of attaching specific people in specific locations to specific jobs, the talent cloud can serve as an algorithmic marketplace that efficiently matches any project—whether internal or external—with employees or contractors who have the right skills. This mutually beneficial model can not only allow a company and its clients on-demand access to the best talent anywhere in the world, but also provide the workforce with nearly limitless career opportunities regardless of location, educational level, or current employment.
In the democratized environment of the talent cloud, the only critical hiring metric is an employee’s abilities, with a focus on core and adjacent skills, instead of talent management criteria like where they went to school, whom they know, or how long they’ve been with the company.
Sourcing and managing talent
The talent cloud is quickly becoming a reality through advanced AI and human-centered technologies that can identify an employee’s full range of skills and present them with the best opportunities, including outlier career paths they might not have considered.
The technology can also mask irrelevant information from hiring managers to avoid common human biases associated with issues such as sexism, racism, and ageism in candidate selection. Employees compete on an equal footing for projects and positions when a business sees only what they can do.
This creates teams that benefit from a true diversity of background, thought, and experience. And as the global reach and advanced capabilities of a talent cloud’s technology continue to develop, this will prompt businesses to challenge basic assumptions, like where their employees work. “We used to think we were globally distributed, but we were really just distributed across 20 or 30 large urban centers around the world rather than being genuinely distributed,” says Ashok Krish, Global Head, Digital Workplace Unit, TCS. “I don't have to hire five of the most expensive developers in Austin, or—for that matter—in the Bay Area or London. They could be in small hometowns somewhere in rural India.”
In that spirit, a technology firm might look to Africa, for instance, where it hasn’t typically sourced developers but where strong programs are creating a ripe source for talent. “There are a lot of marketplaces that have been sourcing niche skills,” says Rachel Medrano, Global Managing Partner, HR Strategy and Transformation, TCS. “Those aren't going away, but software is making things easier for us, especially by shortening that cycle of bringing talent into the organization.”
The new talent marketplace
As we get closer to a pure talent cloud—both philosophically and functionally—major corporations such as Unilever, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife, and Allstate are using talent marketplace software that vets skills, presents opportunities, and connects employees with job openings and projects as these companies streamline their organizations.
According to Josh Bersin, founder of the Josh Bersin Academy, there are three primary questions to consider as a company implements a talent marketplace:
Is there corporate willingness to bypass traditional career structures? Those who’ve worked their way up may resist an approach that prioritizes skills over factors such as tenure, education, and networks.
How will talent marketplace software interact with existing systems and platforms? A technology team will need to manage the software’s integration as it becomes an HR hub.
Who will own the overall success? The introduction of a talent marketplace thrives through storytelling and education. Companies often brand an online interface as they encourage employees to explore new opportunities.
“You can create a culture of mobility without a system like this, but the talent marketplace takes it to the next level,” says Bersin. “TCS understands the systems and business processes needed to enable the talent cloud, and can help a company move to this world of much more dynamic management and movement of people within an organization.”
Source: Everest Group (2021)