Over the past few years, the hiring landscape has dramatically evolved. With the shifting macroeconomic climate in 2023, advocating for new hires has become more challenging. This has led many companies, including Nextdoor, to focus on talent activation instead of talent acquisition.
Essentially, the question for businesses is whether they want to be a talent garden; nurturing and growing internal talent or a talent magnet that relies on external hiring.
Regardless of where the economy goes in the next few years, we’ve put our chips all in on the garden.
The advantages of the talent garden
While the concept of a talent garden might seem simple — prioritizing internal hires — it entails a profound cultural shift that demands long-term commitment. For us, this is not just about cost-saving, but productivity. Studies suggest that external hires cost 18-20% more and often take up to six months to truly acclimatize and become fully productive. The business rationale for internal hires, thus, becomes much more apparent.
🌱 Lessons from the talent garden
Transitioning to a talent garden model isn't an instant process. Through our journey, we've encountered some notable challenges and learned a few important lessons:
1. ✅ Secure management buy-in
Getting executives and managers on board with a significant cultural shift can be daunting. Our strategy was one of transparency and open dialogue, emphasizing that internal hiring wouldn’t overshadow external recruitment, but would become more predominant.
2. 🤝 Define the employee value proposition
Before embarking on a talent garden journey, it's essential to articulate what your company offers to its employees. At Nextdoor, we define this value in terms of our purpose, opportunity, growth, and sense of belonging:
- Purpose: The goal of our company; to cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on.
- Opportunity: What’s the total addressable market for our product? For us, that’s an easy one, since everyone is a neighbor.
- Growth: The commitment that employees can experience transformative growth at Nextdoor.
- Belonging: We believe in having a welcoming and inclusive workplace, creating an environment where we can all belong and do our best work.
3. 🛤 Commit long-term
Implementing a talent garden requires a plan to invest and allocate resources for the long term, ranging from training programs to platforms like Workday, which we use to monitor employee skills.
4. 🔄 Align roles and skills
Talent activation doesn't mean compromising on job fit. It’s crucial to recognize when external hiring is necessary and be flexible with accommodating employees’ career plans where possible.
5. 📈 Set clear metrics
We established concrete targets for our internal hiring goals and consistently monitor employee sentiments around career opportunities.
6. 🗨 Prioritize feedback
Continuous, constructive feedback is pivotal for career growth, and it’s essential that managers are trained to provide regular, effective feedback.
➡️ The journey ahead
Our progress is encouraging: and while it is early in the process, we are on track to achieve our initial target of filling 10% of roles with internal hires this year.
While a 51% internal hire rate might not resonate with every company, the talent garden approach offers substantial benefits, making businesses more cost-effective, employees more engaged and content, and enhancing overall productivity.
For deeper insights into the Talent Garden concept, don't miss my in-depth discussion with Rajeep Dey, CEO and Founder at Learnerbly.