Blog Post

What the Talent Lifecycle Looks Like in a World "Beyond Employment"

John Boudreau

Professor, USC Marshall School of Business

Have you heard phrases like "non-employment work arrangements," "freelance talent platforms" and "labor market intermediaries"? They reflect an emerging trend in which work and workers exist "beyond employment". Increasingly, these new approaches to work are fundamentally changing how you achieve your organization's mission—and leaders who overlook them risk making the same mistake that taxi services made when they dismissed the emergence of ride-sharing services.

"Beyond employment" designates a world where the concept of a job may be irrelevant or inadequate for describing how work can be deconstructed and dispersed. It's a world where reward systems must reflect that rewards are often non-monetary. It's a world where workers can move seamlessly back and forth over an organization's boundary, or never even join an organization, making concepts like "employee turnover" and "employee careers" too confining to capture the reality of the options available to companies and workers.

It can be difficult for HR professionals to understand how to approach this undefined, non-traditional new world of work. The best place to start is with the familiar: The standard talent lifecycle of 1) workforce planning, 2) sourcing talent, 3) selecting talent, 4) developing talent, 5) rewarding work and, eventually, 6) ending the company-worker relationship. By exploring the talent lifecycle through the lens of a "beyond employment" world, it's easy to build a bridge from where HR is now to where we could be.

Step 1: Workforce Planning

In a world beyond employment, planning is transformed from employee supply and demand to worker optimization. The focus becomes the work, not employee head counts or FTEs. Organizations have permeable boundaries where fundamental concepts such as head count, worker availability, movement between jobs, and worker separation must take on very different meanings. The key planning issue may be where to allow your boundary to open and where to keep it closed.

Step 2: Attracting and Sourcing Talent

Today, HR typically looks for candidates who want to work for the organization as regular, full-time employees. The new world of work requires a process of seamlessly engaging multiple systems (procurement, contracting, partnering, recruiting) to attract workers for engagements that may not be full-time. No company could afford to have a "job" exclusively devoted to developing YouTube advertisements during the Super Bowl, but when you deconstruct that project, you can source it with crowdsourcing or freelance platforms.

Step 3: Selecting Talent

Today's selection systems focus on assessing skills and cultural fit to make sure the employee has potential for a career beyond his or her first job. But today, companies are selecting talent based on short-term benefits (for both sides). For example, when Siemens created an innovative hearing aid for children, it didn't hire employees to devise its marketing campaign—instead, it borrowed employees from the Walt Disney Company through an alliance, and they came up with packaging that included a comic book and a children's story about coping with hearing loss.

Step 4: Developing Talent

Today, employee development systems focus on experiences gained by moving through jobs and hierarchical levels. But a "career" today is not necessarily a progression through positions—instead, it's often an accumulation of projects and task credits. What does it mean to get "promoted" in such a fluid system? Should we take mentoring to the cloud? A company called Everwise does just that. The mentorship platform has amassed a data base of 60,000 relationships, pairing experienced professionals with protégés across organizations.

Step 5: Rewarding Great Work

When work and workers can move across organizational boundaries, it's a recipe for extreme employment-at-will with little long-run exchange. But if organizations make permeability a central part of their reward structure, they can actually create rewards that entice workers to move out and in. For example, organizations can offer a big bonus if a worker returns after an outside stint where they acquired valuable skills. There is already talk of "tours of duty" across organizations, more portable rewards and flexible systems that track skills and achievements.

Step 6: Separating from Workers

Employee "turnover" is the end of the employment relationship and perhaps the most frequently measured HR outcome. In a new world beyond employment, the whole notion of employee "separation" could be obsolete. The end of a project by a contractor or freelancer is hardly a separation, when that worker could easily be available in the future. This makes employee separation less of "the end" of a talent lifecycle, and more of an integral element in an ongoing series of engagements between work and workers.

To meet the future demands of leaders and live up to the vast potential contribution of work "beyond employment," HR leaders need to rethink the very foundations that support today's HR systems. However, with a little creativity, it's possible to see a bridge from here to there.

Thanks to David Creelman and Ravin Jesuthasan for assistance with this column. Boudreau, Creelman and Jesuthasan are the authors of a forthcoming book, Lead the Work.

Photo: Creative Commons

Related Resources

Want to keep learning? Explore our products, customer stories, and the latest industry insights.

4 Ways to Expand Your Social Media Recruiting Strategy

Blog Post

4 Ways to Expand Your Social Media Recruiting Strategy

Social media is ubiquitous, and companies are using it in many different and innovative ways for enhancing their sales, marketing and customer services. So why is it then that many HR departments still fail to see social media as more than a job board? Outside of the office, the same HR people happily engage with friends on Facebook, share news and ideas on Twitter, look at pictures on Instagram and send snaps on Snapchat. But when they put their work hat on they seemingly forget why they use social in the way they (and hundreds of millions of other users) do every day, and resort back to just posting jobs (in a boring way) on social media! Of course there is nothing wrong with job posting, and it's often an effective approach to reaching an audience, but not all of the time. According to LinkedIn, only 12 percent of the working population are actively seeking new employment. So, if all you do is post jobs on your LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook page, you are consciously ignoring the other 88 percent of the working population who might be interested in hearing more about your company in general. Creating and sharing interesting content about your company such as employee stories or volunteer days help bring your employer brand to life. It might even trigger people to reach out to you and find out more about your job opportunities. In truth, mixing up your social media feeds with a variety of content will provide more depth and candidate engagement. Here are four ways to expand your social media strategy and engage with new potential candidates. 1) Candidate Sourcing With people using an average of more than five social networks, sourcing talent via social media makes absolute sense. Branch out from just using LinkedIn and look to sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to search for and engage with prospective talent. Try search tools like Followerwonk to search Twitter bios for keywords and job titles, a clever Chrome browser extension called Intelligence Search that easily searches Facebook and using the search bar at the top of Google+. They will help you identify new talent. If you are looking to build social media pipelines then try Hello Talent. It is a great free tool that allows you to build talent pipelines from many different social networks by using a browser extension. 2) Competitor Monitoring Social media is a fantastic source of information and data. By using tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, you can monitor the social media activity of your competitors. Both of these tools allow you to set up search columns, where you can enter things like keywords, hashtags, Twitter names and track when any of these are mentioned on sites such as Twitter. You can use the interact or use the insights accordingly. 3) Resources for Candidates Consider your Facebook page (or Twitter channel) as a real-time customer services channel for you to engage and communicate with both new and existing candidates in the recruitment process. Provide links to your social media pages to candidates at all stages in the process and encourage them to visit the pages and ask questions about any part of the process. You can also share useful information about working for the company, including locations, employees and other relevant news. 4) Live Recruitment Events Not everyone can attend the many recruitment events happening every month. But by using social media like Twitter, Facebook Live, Instagram and Snapchat, you can easily provide live commentary for these events you attend or host. Real-time video via Facebook Live and interaction via Twitter chats are superb examples of ways to regularly engage with a live audience of potential candidates. With social media firmly established in our working lives, I question how much more evidence HR departments will need to fully embrace this "new" form of candidate engagement. Photo: Twenty20

Cartoon Coffee Break: Unconventional Recruiting

Blog Post

Cartoon Coffee Break: Unconventional Recruiting

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Missed the Recruiting Trends conference? From the state of recruiting automation adoption, to the role that the human element still plays in recruiting, our recap covers everything you need to know. Header photo: Creative Commons

The Latest Office Benefit Is Tackling Student Debt

Blog Post

The Latest Office Benefit Is Tackling Student Debt

Modern companies are more than just employers — increasingly, they are also gyms, cafeterias and even laundromats. As perks like yoga class, free lunch and complimentary dry cleaning become the norm, companies continue to push the boundaries on ways to attract and retain top talent by providing much more than a paycheck to employees. The latest in the slew of new workplace benefits? Student loan assistance. In April, Chegg partnered with to give full-time employees extra cash for student loan reduction. Then in September, consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers announced it would provide up to $1,200 to help employees pay off loans annually. As a benefit, student loan assistance programs are certainly still in their infancy— one survey found that only 3 percent of companies offer such a benefit. But experts say that may soon change as companies seek to differentiate themselves in a competitive hiring environment. "We think student loan benefits are poised to be the next big benefit; similar to what 401(k) matching was when it was first introduced," says Dana Rosenberg, who leads employer and affinity group partnerships at Earnest, a lender that offers student loan refinancing and works with companies to create loan pay-down programs. The Burden of Student Debt Such programs could be extremely attractive to debt-laden Millennials. Around 40 million Americans collectively carry $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, and the graduating class of 2015 was the most indebted class in history with an average debt of $35,000 (a superlative they won't hold for long come May 2016.) For employers looking to adjust benefits to correspond to the changing demographics of their employee base, student loan programs hit the mark. "In 2016, our employees will be 80 percent millennials, and we also hire close to 11,000 employees directly out of school each year," says Terri McClements, Washington Metro managing partner of PwC. With student debt often preventing young people from participating in 401(k) plans and reaching traditional life milestones, the benefit could potentially make a large impact on employees' financial and personal well-being. A study from the American Student Association found that 73 percent of people with student loans reported putting off saving for retirement or other investments due to their debt, 75 percent reported delaying a home purchase and 27 percent reported it was difficult to buy daily necessities. "Student loans can be a very stressful thing to deal with, so if we can give our employees peace of mind, that's great," says Caroline Gennaro, corporate communications manager at Chegg. The Allure for Employers Student debt assistance programs aren't just attractive to employees, either. Rosenberg says there are significant benefits for the organizations that offer them as well. "Employers that offer programs to help their employees get out from under their debt load are seeing big benefits: increased retention, more competitive recruiting and, perhaps most importantly, happier employees who have additional cash flow to put towards their life goals," Rosenberg explains. Rosenberg says happier employees are more engaged employees, who tend to be more productive. Studies show that companies with high employee engagement experience lower turnover and have double the rate of organizational success than their less-engaged counterparts. Student loan benefit programs may also lead to a more diverse workforce, attracting employees whose financial backgrounds meant they had to take on more debt for their education. "Diversity and inclusion are also very important to us, so the ability to offer this benefit can help minorities who come out of school with a higher debt burden," says McClements. A Promising Response Companies say the response to their student loan assistance programs have been overwhelmingly positive. Chegg has had more than 80 people sign up since they started their program this summer, and they've already eliminated roughly 86 years of collective loan repayments for their employees. Companies are also finding these programs are a way to differentiate themselves from organizations that may offer more generic benefits. "As a company in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are always looking to attract the best and brightest in the industry, and this benefit is a big draw," says Gennaro. Photo: Shutterstock

Schedule a personalized 1:1

Talk to a Cornerstone expert about how we can help with your organization’s unique people management needs.

© Cornerstone 2022