The Inside Gig – Discovering Untapped Talent in your Workplace

What would you do if you were told that the talent you’re looking to hire may already be on your payroll? That’s the idea behind The Inside Gig: How Sharing Untapped Talent Across Boundaries Unleashes Organizational Capacity, a new book by Dr. Edie Goldberg and Kelley Steven-Waiss. Joining us today is Dr. Edie Goldberg -- and she'll be talking about:

  • The skills gap crisis;
  • The speed at which work is evolving;
  • Ways you can discover the untapped skills within your workforce; and
  • How both your employees and your company can benefit from The Inside Gig's talent strategy!

Dr. Edie Goldberg

Talent Strategy

“I think that the power of working in this more agile, flexible, project-based way, where people are able to bring their whole selves to work and use all the skills they have, and have an opportunity for learning and growth while doing real, important work, it’s just the new way of working.”

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The Speed At Which Work Is Evolving

  • Skill needs are changing so much, we shouldn’t be hiring people for the skills they have today, but for their ability to be flexible or adaptable - call it their learnability, or learning agility - but whatever you want to call it, an aspect of this should be included in hiring practices. 
  • “We need people who can quickly pivot and change and learn and grow.”
  • The half life of skills is only five years. Half of all the knowledge you have today will become obsolete in five years. This is most true in highly technical jobs.

The Inspiration Behind The Inside Gig

  • This rapid rate of change means that employees can’t learn new skills fast enough to keep up, and even “laying off and hiring new” for the skills employers need isn’t an option because there’s simply not enough skilled talent out there...so what do we do?
  • “We need to provide employees with more dynamic, personalized opportunities for continuous learning in the workplace, and we have to go beyond our traditional classroom-style learning and key inflection points and instead focus on micro-learning opportunities to help employees learn while doing.” 
  • Inspiration also came from the gig work. What do employees like about gig work?
  • Flexibility
  • Control
  • The opportunity to choose what projects you work on - employees want more diversity and choice in their work! 

Untapped Skills

  • Employees are more than their job titles. Most of us have had more than one job in our lifetime, and our other life experiences -- even our hobbies -- inform a background of knowledge and skills that go well beyond our current roles.
  • Leveraging untapped skills within a company allows a business to utilize the talent they need when they need it, and for only the amount of time that they need to complete the job -- allowing work to get completed faster, and without having to bring in outside contractors to do the work.
  • Most of our human capital manpower systems categorize people by their job titles, not their skills - so leaders don’t know what skills they might have in their organizations.

Six Key Principles To Build More Agile Organizations

  • Principle #1: You Get What You Give: Talent-sharing across boundaries as a better way to optimize organizational resources. 
  • Principle #2: Know What You Have: Establish an accurate inventory of the skills you have within your company.
  • Principle #3: Create a Learning Organization: Given the half-life of skills, it’s important to emphasize continuous learning within your organization.
  • Principle #4: Democratize the Work: Make internal gig opportunities transparent, and be sure to give everyone equal access to these opportunities.
  • Principle #5: Create an Agile Organization: Break down organization hierarchies and structures, to allow teams to form, expand and contract as needed, and then dissolve when they’re no longer necessary, so it becomes a more fluid approach to working.
  • Principle #6: Bust the Functional Silos: Let people work across organization boundaries, to add value where they can, regardless of their current role or department. Also, today’s work is so complex that often multidisciplinary teams are needed to develop the best solutions, so getting out of our silos is important.

How It Benefits Employees 

  • Employees want to be challenged, and continuously learn and grow. 
  • The ideas in The Inside Gig help facilitate learning, career exploration and building relationships in other parts of the business, making it easier to grow your career while staying within an organization.
  • It allows for employee reskilling for the future of work! 
  • Research from Accenture showed that employers underestimate their employees’ desire to learn new skills -- and it’s an exponential factor for Millennials. In fact, most employees understand that to remain essential in the workplace that they do need to constantly learn and grow.

Treating“Skill Assets” like “Capital Assets”

  • You can’t leverage what you don’t know about -- but today, technology exists that allows us to “inventory” the skills in our organizations. 
  • Corporate Skills Inventory: Most employees are regularly updating their own skills on LinkedIn. Organizations can allow employees to import those profiles as a starting point for building a corporate skills inventory and then encourage employees to update and keep those skills current and fresh. It’s important to get that as a foundation so companies can understand how to leverage the talent they already have within the organization;
  • Artificial Intelligence: In higher-tech companies, AI can actually look at an employee’s work product and infer what skills they have - perhaps even skills that the employee didn’t know they have.

CHROs as the COOs of the “Talent Supply Chain”

  • By getting an accurate assessment of the inventory of skills within an organization, leaders can then both look at the current need for skills, as well as the skills that might be needed in the future, and assess the “supply” and the “demand” to understand what their skill gaps are. With that info, they can then develop strategies for how to develop those high-demand skills in their organization. 
  • It’s about monitoring the inventory of your skills --  knowing where you have a gap, anticipating future gaps and then creating strategies to close those gaps.

Case Studies

  • Cisco: 
    • They recently shifted from being a server-based company to being a cloud-based company, so the skills in the organization needed to change dramatically.
    • They wanted to use micro-learning opportunities to help people learn and grow in these new skills. 
    • First, they had to Know What They Have -- they had to understand what skills they already had in the organization. That helped them understand which employees had some of the foundational skills that would help them reskill into this new skillset for the future. 
    • Employees were then allowed to work on short-term projects while staying in their current job, giving them the opportunity to reskill themselves by being exposed to that new type of work, and working alongside other people who had deeper skills than them. They were learning while doing.
    • This is one of the key ideas behind The Inside Gig: “If we can give people micro-learning opportunities by letting them opt into projects where they can learn new things, particularly in areas of growing importance to the organization, we can help our employees grow while we’re still running the ship of the organization.”
  • HERE Technologies: 
    • Where The Inside Gig talent strategy was incubated!
    • They wanted to become more of an agile organization, be more responsive to changing customer needs and be able to move resources around to where they were needed to address pressing business issues.
    • Technology in their arena was changing, and they knew they also needed to be able to continuously upskill and reskill their employees.
    • They adopted The Inside Gig talent strategy, developing their own platform (they have since profitized their technology solution).
    • They were able to get an inventory of the skills in the company and then they allowed people to post projects, looking for the skills they needed that were lacking on their current team. Participation wasn’t required, it was an opt-in strategy.
    • In the first year of operating in this way, they were able to save $14 million dollars of FTE-equivalent hours.
    • Employee engagement scores went up by 9%.
    • 40% of the projects were NOT technology projects.
    • 85% of the projects were cross-boundary in the organization.
    • Business acumen was built encouraging work across departmental boundaries.
    • Cultural acumen was also built, as it is a global company, and a lot of those projects were leveraging talent across different countries.
    • “I think that the power of working in this more agile, flexible, project-based way, where people are able to bring their whole selves to work and use all the skills they have, and have an opportunity for learning and growth while doing real, important work, it’s just the new way of working, and it is the way we should be working.”

Dr. Edie Goldberg: Backstory

  • B.S., M.S. in Psychology from San Diego State University
  • Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from University at Albany, SUNY
  • Dr. Goldberg began her career as a Research Associate with the Navy Personnel Research & Development Center.
  • She transitioned to working in a variety of consulting firms, including recent work as a TrustedPeer Expert.
  • Dr. Goldberg is currently the President & Founder of E.L. Goldberg & Associates and a Member for the Consortium for Change (C4C).
  • Dr. Goldberg is the co-author of The Inside Gig: How Sharing Untapped Talent Across Boundaries Unleashes Organizational Capacity

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About the Author Jacqueline Gregory

As a creative, persuasive communications professional with extensive experience guiding projects from concept through completion Jacqui has produced custom communications for some of the world's best known brands. Producing ProjectHR has been one of her favorite ways to engage and delight HR and Labor Relations professionals!

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