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Success Story

Nasdaq boosts talent investment with global career framework


May 15, 2019

Following a series of acquisitions, Nasdaq needed a consistent approach to mapping career paths for its global workforce and for setting expectations. With the help of Willis Towers Watson, Nasdaq developed and implemented a global career framework enabling current and prospective employees to understand potential career paths and facilitating global talent mobility.

The Challenge

Strengthen Nasdaq's high-performance culture via a globally consistent approach to career development.

Between 2008 and 2011, Nasdaq's employee population had almost doubled in size due to acquisitions. Nasdaq management and HR recognized that to strengthen the company's high-performance culture, they needed to address talent management challenges in four areas:

  1. Setting expectations for the Nasdaq’s global workforce. Nasdaq required a methodology and structure for developing detailed job descriptions and competencies, and ultimately, a common language around talent.
  2. Clarifying opportunities for individual contributors. An employee engagement survey showed that Nasdaq employees globally wanted a clearer understanding of potential career paths.
  3. Enhancing internal mobility. Leaders wanted a broader cross section of employees to work outside their home countries than in the past but they needed to better understand the skills and competencies of its global workforce.
  4. Strengthening Nasdaq's ability to compete for talent. Management needed a tool that could precisely delineate the requirements for a range of technical and business roles, and present potential career paths to prospective hires.

An effective global career framework would help Nasdaq tackle this broad range of talent-related issues critical to its aggressive growth agenda.

Our Approach

Engage HR and business stakeholders in a collaborative process to map global career paths based on clear, consistently defined roles and competencies.

Because the key to understanding and mapping jobs in an objective manner is to involve the people who best understand the roles, employees from the business lines had to play a prominent role. In fact, this initiative was viewed not as an HR program, but as a collaboration between the business lines and HR.

To help guide this work, Willis Towers Watson provided a benchmarked career framework based on industry best practices. The framework development process included the following steps:

  • Establishing core and leadership competencies. Senior executives were asked to delineate the company's core and leadership competencies for all employees in the firm.
  • Assessing roles. All managers reviewed their employees' roles in terms of responsibilities and levels of contribution.
  • Defining career families. Roles were grouped into career families — such as risk management, strategic planning, payroll and data center operations — based on the nature of work or technical skills required.
  • Identifying skills and competencies in each career family. Using a Willis Towers Watson starter library of functional competencies, managers ranked required competencies for the career families with which they were associated.
  • Determining career levels. HR determined how many levels each career family required, and that work was validated by managers and compensation leaders based on business needs and benchmark data. And, the global talent management team in conjunction with the HR business partners and managers defined competencies for each level.
  • Drafting position descriptions Using the above information, the managers drafted position descriptions with guidance from the HR business partners and the global talent management team. Willis Towers Watson also reviewed the job descriptions to ensure consistency in the determinations regarding families, levels and competencies.

Finally, synthesizing all of the above, the project team developed workbooks and reference guides to help employees plan their careers and help managers have effective career conversations with their team members.

The implementation took place in phases: a pilot program in 2012 and rollout to the entire organization in 2013 and 2014. Communication and change management support was critical during the pilot and the companywide rollout. Senior leaders served as project ambassadors, which helped reinforce the project's importance in employees' eyes.

The Results

A global career framework — with clearly defined career families, levels and positions — enabling current and prospective employees to understand potential career paths and development opportunities, and facilitating global talent mobility.

The diligent collaboration between the business lines and HR, first in the pilot and then in the rollout phase, resulted in myCareer: a globally consistent career framework with career families, levels and position descriptions clearly defined.

One year after Nasdaq implemented its global career framework, the company's employee engagement data revealed a 22% improvement in employees' perception of professional development and a 15.5% improvement in their perception of performance management.

myCareer has delivered benefits throughout the Nasdaq organization

  • Empowered employees.
    The framework's clearly defined levels, positions and competencies have empowered employees to take ownership of their career development.
  • Enhanced talent mobility.
    Improved visibility to potential career paths across geographies and functions has enhanced talent mobility. In this way, myCareer serves as a powerful retention tool
  • Improved talent acquisition.
    The globally consistent approach to career development has created a more accurate picture of Nasdaq's talent pipeline and future talent needs. And, consistent position descriptions and visible career path opportunities help recruiters compete for top talent globally.

Nasdaq leaders view myCareer as an ongoing investment. In the future, they plan to further integrate the framework in the organization’s learning and development programs.

Meet the experts

Laurie Bienstock
Global Practice Leader of Talent Management

Renée Smith

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