Podcast: Fuel50’s Anne Fulton on Talent and New Marketplaces

Fuel50 Journeys

Mark:

I’m Mark Feffer, And this is People Tech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. My guest today is Anne Fulton, the founder and CEO of Fuel50. Their platform facilitates talent mobility, workforce agility, employee engagement, and retention. We’ll talk about the dynamics of internal mobility and get into some nuts and bolts on this edition of People Tech. Anne, welcome. So Fuel50’s been publishing a multi-part study. Can you tell me what it’s about and what kind of things you were hoping to discover?

Anne:

Yes. Thanks, Mark. So earlier this year we were really wanting to understand what was happening with talent mobility post-pandemic, so we did a global talent mobility research study across multiple geographies and had 400 respondents, 200 HR stakeholders from all sorts of organizations around the world, and also 200 employees, which gave us a wonderful perspective on what employees are thinking versus what our HR stakeholders are thinking, and it was very surprising in some places.

Mark:

Well, what did you find?

Anne:

Yes. So I think unsurprisingly, we started off by looking at what were the strategic priorities on people’s agenda across the landscape as they looked into 2022. But what was really interesting about our study was that we were able to segment high-performing organizations, so those organizations with best revenues, most sales growth, best NPS scores, so we were able to look at that high-performing population, as well as a high-performing population on HR practices, so those organizations had lower attrition, lower recruitment costs, were spending more on training and development, and so they’re a beautiful class. So we looked at those, and then we looked at everyone else. So there were three audiences.

Anne:

And what we found was the strategic priorities for everyone… Everyone that responded said leadership development, DE&I, and the employee experience, 1, 2, 3, not necessarily in that order. But when we went to the high-performing audience, it was slightly different. What we saw is that they were more future-oriented, so that audience were prioritizing the future of work. So the high-performing organizations were prioritizing the future of work, reskilling for the future, and boundaryless or seamless talent pools between internal and external recruitment. So they were, in my view, thinking more strategically. So that was kind of a number one finding, is that those high-performing organizations were thinking further ahead, more futuristic and more focused on the future of work. So that was a headline.

Mark:

Did it surprise you?

Anne:

It did, actually, because I thought maybe everyone was going to be prioritizing reskilling and future of work, but to see that there was such a strong difference… So the average organization, leadership, employee experience. The high-performers were thinking five years ahead, “I need to reskill for the future.” So I think that’s a learning for us all, is to be able to think a little further ahead.

Anne:

One of the other things that we looked at was organizations… We were able to also segment on organizations that had the best DE&I outcomes, so they were getting the best outcomes when it came to inclusivity and diversity, so they had more female representation at leadership level, more ethnic diversity at leadership level. They had more pay equity across the organization across different demographics. So they were classed as our best-in-class DE&I group. And when we looked at that group, we could see that they were prioritizing the same things, leadership development, et cetera. But when it came to actual practices, we saw some significant differences around what those organizations were doing.

Anne:

And so they were investing heavily in mentoring. So for their target audiences, they were actively providing matched mentors and providing mentoring. The second thing was that they had a big emphasis on stretch assignments, projects, and opportunities for their target audiences, so giving them experiences that were going to give them exposure to the wider business, build them visibility, as well as build skills and experiences. So what that was able to do, in my view… I’m guessing that the outcomes that those organizations were achieving were a direct result of the investment in those people in some very smart ways.

Anne:

So it was an interesting insight, I think, about what we can do. If that is one of your strategic goals, diversity and inclusivity, there are things that you can do. So looking at mentoring programs, looking at stretch assignments, projects, and creating an opportunity marketplace where people of all backgrounds are able to participate with more visibility, as opposed to your best friend that looks like you, and I’ll give him that assignment or her that assignment. I’ll go out to a marketplace and find perhaps who might want to put their hand up for this project and make a contribution, and then create some visibility around their contribution.

Mark:

So you conducted this survey in the midst of the pandemic, so it’s including the thinking and the feelings of people in the midst of COVID. Do you think that has changed the way employers are addressing things like DE&I and mentorship?

Anne:

I think it’s definitely trended significantly as a result of the pandemic. I think all of a sudden our talent practices came under the spotlight, even more so in the last 18 months. And there’s all sorts of examples of employee voice that came up over the last 18 months, where anything other than fair, equitable practices was not going to cut it. And so I think we’ve entered a new generation, I think, a new era of accountability around our practices. So in my view, we can’t be anything other than a holding up to very, very high standards in our talent practices now, in a way that is democratic and fair and equitable and inclusive. This is the kind of things that we’re thinking about a lot in terms of our own technology and how does it make sure that nobody’s unintentionally excluded from a marketplace, everyone’s got a fair and equal opportunity, and that there’s no unintentional bias sneaking into our AI and our talent matching capabilities, because we are very, very committed to doing good with our software, not harm.

Mark:

Let’s focus in on talent marketplaces for a moment. Can you just describe the talent marketplace? And is it a tangible thing, or is it just a concept?

Anne:

It’s well beyond a concept, but I do think it’s a new concept for a lot of folk in organizations and HR folk, to understand, well, what is it, and how does it operate, and how is it different from my traditional talent systems? So if you think about a marketplace offering, and I use the example of Amazon or eBay, connects you to things you want, connects you to stuff. And then if you have Facebook or Tinder or LinkedIn, it connects… It’s a marketplace to connect you to people. Airbnb and Uber connect you to places you want to go, so they’re purposeful.

Anne:

So a talent marketplace within an organization is a democratic, inclusive marketplace that connects people to opportunities that are matched to them. So we’re bringing in that kind of matching [inaudible] that you might see in match.com, or matched journeys for your Uber, or matched places with your Airbnb. So our talent marketplace will match employees to career journeys, to jobs, to roles, to projects and stretch assignments, and to learning that’s personalized to them, and to mentors. So all of that matching capability from a marketplace enables an employee to craft their own future, to get on with that journey.

Anne:

I mean, organizations are talking about reskilling as being really important, and what a marketplace will allow you to do, or a Fuel50 will do, is allow you to map out a career journey that you may want to go on, and then connect you to all of the learning assets associated with your skill gaps. So I’m able to get on with my journey from instantaneously. I might dream of being the CEO. Maybe I’ve got match score today of 15%. but I’m given everything I need to know, like who can I connect to? Here’s my top five skill gaps, business acumen, negotiation, and influencing skills. Here’s the learning assets. Here’s somebody that’s great at that. Connect with that person. They can mentor you. So there’s a little lot of enablement to allow people to own their future within the organization.

Mark:

Is this being driven by the employers or by the employees?

Anne:

So that part of the equation is employee-driven, but there is a flip side for the organization, because you can see there’s a strong what’s in its for me for the employees. They’re given a lot of enablement. But on the flip side, the organization gets this wonderful skills intelligence, skills readiness. They’ve got a workforce that is being matched to opportunities. So the flip side is, any line manager, any leader, any HR practitioner or recruiter can get access to talent pipelines of people that have been matched to their requirements, whether it’s a project, a gig, a stretch assignment, or a job, or a vacancy. So that pipeline and talent view is really important in terms of helping organizations resource.

Anne:

And there’s huge benefits if you can resource internally rather than externally. An internal candidate costs you half as much to acquire at least, twice as fast to onboard, more productive, more engaged, less likely to leave. Whereas if you go externally, it’s going to cost you at least twice as much. I reckon more like six times as much to get an external person. The data says you pay them 20% more, which is a lot. But they’re 61% more likely to be fired and leave you. So there’s a really strong proposition for looking to your internal talent first. And some of our clients are getting incredible gains in terms of shifting their internal/external recruitment ratios. So these pre-Fuel50 would be 33%, but it goes up to 55% of positions being filled internally after you deploy a marketplace mentality.

Anne:

So marketplaces… I’m just coming back to your original question, Mark. It took me a while. But marketplaces are slowly and progressively replacing some of those legacy talent systems that… The employees wouldn’t necessarily want to use the performance management system. They’d go in there once a year, because they’d have to, or a quarterly cadence. So we’re able to get goal alignment, and you can record your contributions as an employee, because this is very democratic. I am recording the value that I’ve added to this organization. I’ve got feedback. So the marketplace mentality is replacing some of that legacy performance management kind of mentality with more focus on contribution, recording my goals and contributions and my progress and my skill development. But the employee is responsible for that, so it’s a godsend for leaders, in that they can see the employee gaining feedback into a 360 tool. The manager can add their view, but that information is populated in a way that makes it faster and easier for leaders to get goal alignment and to help coach performance.

Anne:

And just sitting behind the system is this incredible leader coaching platform that supports leaders to have these wonderful quality conversations. You can look through your list of team and see who might be a retention risk. You’re given three or five questions to ask that person that might just turn around that person looking down the road. So we can help them with that. We can help them with the performance gaps or skill gaps that are appearing. So leaders are also enabled. We’re enabling the employee own their future, own their learning, but we can also help the leader do a better job of coaching and retaining and growing their talent.

Anne:

What we are finding from some of our clients is that they want to be able to compare the skills and talents of their internal talent with the external capability. So currently we work in an integrated, seamless ecosystem. So yes, we integrate with the ATS and the LMS and whatever other systems the organization may have. But the request that we get from clients is, “I’d like to compare and contrast this external capability, this external talent, this newbie, with somebody that I’ve got within my team.” And so that kind of singular view and being able to compare and contrast and bring some of your external talent into a talent marketplace pool is probably a frontier that’s going to be addressed in the next year or so.

Mark:

Anne, thanks very much for visiting us today.

Anne:

Been my pleasure, Mark. Always enjoy connecting. Thank you. Thanks for the opportunity.

Mark:

My guest today has been Anne Fulton, the founder and CEO of Fuel50. And this has been People Tech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. We’re a publication of Recruiting Daily. We’re also a part of Evergreen Podcasts. To see all of their programs, visit www.evergreenpodcasts.com. And to keep up with HR technology, visit the HCM Technology Report every day. We’re the most trusted source of news in the HR tech industry. Find us at www.hcmtechnologyreport.com. I’m Mark Feffer.

IMage: Fuel50

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