Internal mobility gig economies: Ben Murphy-Ryan shares how Arm launched a pilot program to find untapped potential within their workforce

This program is built around project-based and skills-based opportunities that people generally wouldn't be able to identify through our normal recruiting channels. Ben Murphy-Ryan
In Q3 of 2019, Arm Senior Director of Global Talent Acquisition Ben Murphy-Ryan and his team got to work creating an internal mobility program.

“We identified that we don't have an easy way of sharing opportunities within the organization that are not permanent, internal moves,” said Ben “This program is built around project-based and skills-based opportunities that people generally wouldn't be able to identify through our normal recruiting channels.”

They wanted to figure out how to capitalize on employees who have skills they might not be using in their current role but could be lent out to other areas of the organization.

According to Ben, although Arm had a healthy system for employees to make permanent transfers within the organization, they did not have an easy way for those employees to find temporary or part-time opportunities.

“From a development perspective, we wanted to give people an opportunity to grow and learn their skills and ultimately try to reduce the number of people looking for new career opportunities outside of Arm, because there were a lot of untapped opportunities in the organization that we just weren't able to get to people,” he said.

To get the new internal mobility program started, Ben and his team developed a pilot.

There were a lot of untapped opportunities in the organization that we just weren't able to get to people. Ben Murphy-Ryan
“We didn't start out doing this for the whole enterprise,” he said. “We came across the technology platform we're using, called Hitch, and our Chief People Officer and People Leadership Team were keen to explore its potential within Arm.”

From there, they settled on a pilot program within the people team, so they could test it and lead by example before rolling it out across the enterprise.

Ben said their team was a good test group because of how diverse they are. Arm's people function includes property and workplace, business continuity and travel, and the more traditional HR functions of learning and development and people services and recruitment.

“We wanted to see if we could build connections between bits of our own team that we wouldn't normally see,” he said.

Ben said his team didn't have to go out into the organization to sell the program to get the pilot off the ground.

“It's quite an agile pilot program,” he said. “So, we were able to move quickly in three or four months through the process with a vendor to agree to use that talent platform and then to deploy it within this pilot group.”

They worked with their IT team to configure, test, and run the platform. It went live in January of 2020.

The platform helps match users' profiles and the skills certain projects require. Ben Murphy-Ryan
Ben describes the platform, Hitch, as a supply and demand tool. On the supply side, Ben said users can go into the platform and build a profile that includes their work experience and background, and they can even import their LinkedIn profile.

Then, on the demand side, employees can create temporary projects or permanent opportunities for users to browse.

“Sometimes it's a full-time role, only a few hours a week, or sometimes the project requires a team of people,” he said. “Then, the platform helps match users' profiles and the skills certain projects require.”

The platform sends out an email to the employee when a project comes up and is a match with their skills.

Ben said getting employees to build their profiles on the platform was proving to be a bit of a challenge, so they created an incentive program.

“We have an employee giving program here at Arm, so we encouraged people to build their profiles by offering to donate a certain amount of money to a charity of their choice,” he said. “It's also a great way to encourage the use of our own platform because we were encouraging the business use as well.”

He said it's been crucial to make the process as simple as possible for employees to use the platform.

We have an employee giving program here at Arm, so we encouraged people to build their profiles by offering to donate a certain amount of money to a charity of their choice. Ben Murphy-Ryan
“We tried to avoid having a massive list of terms and conditions,” said Ben. “We had to have some rules, but we kept it simple and light and told users we'd deal with any issues, conflicts, or concerns.”

Sometimes they've had to have complex conversations and help connect managers together to figure out which people are the best fit for certain opportunities.

“It's been challenging at times, but we've tried to use common sense,” he said. “For example, if somebody was going to move to an external role, they would give notice of two weeks in the US or a month in the UK. So, we added some guidance saying an employee should be able to move on to a new project within the organization within a similar timeline.”

According to Ben, the simplicity on the user's end has been an important piece of the pilot, because it allows them to focus more on the system and the connections they're building and has made the platform experience very intuitive.

The program is currently still in the pilot phase, but Ben and his team are pleased with the results so far.

We tried to avoid having a massive list of terms and conditions. Ben Murphy-Ryan
Within the first three weeks, they were able to make their first placement. “We had a couple of matches where people filled their project opportunities with employees they wouldn't have thought to reach out to otherwise,” he said.

They've had approximately 200 employees from the people group get onto the platform, he added. “It's been a bit of a balance of getting enough people onto the platform as well as enough interesting projects to fill,” said Ben.

The success so far has led to positive conversations about how the program can help with development opportunities and future career progression for Arm employees.

If we can encourage people to have these interesting, engaging opportunities, it will help them to continue to grow and develop their careers with Arm. Ben Murphy-Ryan
The goal of the program is to connect people with opportunities that they wouldn't normally have access to. And, they've found it has helped surface skill sets and capabilities they didn't know existed in their own team.

“If we can encourage people to have these interesting, engaging opportunities, it will help them to continue to grow and develop their careers with Arm,” he said. “It's been positive to see that capability being tapped into more by our teams.”

He said for now it's important to sustain the number of opportunities shared on the platform over the coming months, then they can begin rolling it out across the organization.

“We're talking to business groups, deciding whether to expand the pilot and make it enterprise wide,” said Ben. “We're still encouraging experimentation and getting people to use the platform and give us their feedback around what's working and what isn't.”

Once the platform has been fully deployed, they hope to eventually use it to help employees find mentors within the organization as well.

This pilot was developed before the COVID-19 pandemic, but Ben said this situation has shown the importance of understanding the supply of skills within an organization and quickly redeploying them.

Instead of redeploying an employee because we haven't been using their skills, we're using this as an opportunity to reprioritize other areas for our employees. Ben Murphy-Ryan
Arm has continued to grow during the pandemic, so Ben said the program's function is different within their organization than it might be for others.

“We've heard how other organizations are using this as a way to redeploy people to the front lines where they have a more customer-facing role, but that doesn't apply as much in our organization.” he said. “It has certainly helped us though. Instead of redeploying an employee because we haven't been using their skills, we're using this as an opportunity to reprioritize other areas for our employees.”

For other talent teams looking to deploy a similar program, Ben suggested keeping it as simple as possible.

“Make sure there's not a huge amount of procedure or regulation behind it,” he said. “That has helped us move quite fast to launch our pilot. It's also made the user journey very simple.”

Ben added incentivizing people to play around with the tool was important to their success so far as well.

“We were able to include the charitable giving piece to help get people to sign up,” he said. “So, definitely think about how you can encourage people to get involved.”

Ben Murphy-Ryan has been a member of the Talent Marketing Board since 2018. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.