Internal mobility has become quite the ‘buzz phrase’ in the last year. It’s always been an important concept for HR teams… but what does that really mean and why is it so crucial to have a solid internal mobility strategy now?
In short, an internal mobility program opens the door for existing employees to apply for job opportunities within their organization. These opportunities may be full time positions (either vertical or lateral moves) or they could be short-term projects or gigs.
Internal mobility is more important than ever because many companies are struggling to keep their top talent. In today’s tight talent market, 50% of professionals are looking for greener pastures. Needless to say, companies that are unable to retain their employees are struggling.
Internal mobility has proven to be an excellent solution to retention problems, because when an employee is considering leaving their current role, offering them a different position within your company, that could potentially be a better fit for them, is sometimes enough to re-energize them and encourage them to stay.
This is why it’s imperative to have a good strategy in place: the following things are really helpful if you want to make it work.
Shift your focus to skills first
A quality internal mobility strategy is built with a strong focus on relevant skills as opposed to job titles.
The best business leaders and HR professionals recognize that employees are so much more than the positions they hold — they are dynamic individuals who have unique skillsets.
The truth is, you already have a multitude of talented people with valuable and sought-after skills, right at your fingertips — many of whom are likely interested in a new role. There’s certainly a time and place for external hires, but in many cases, the best-fit candidate for your role can be found in-house. You just need to identify them.
Looking at your current employees and open roles with a skills-first mindset allows you to match (perhaps hitherto under-utilized) talent with opportunities in your organization, without going through the lengthy and expensive process of recruiting externally.
One reason why top talent might consider looking elsewhere is because they feel that they’ve outgrown their current role, or they’re simply bored with it. Particularly on the heels of the pandemic, many professionals feel that their career progression and personal development have suffered in the last two years.
A simple way to combat this is by allowing (and encouraging) your team members to branch out and learn new skills at work. While it is not the only way to build knowledge, internal mobility programs do allow people to grow their networks, share insights across departments and find new avenues for progression, whilst keeping organizational know-how inside the company.
When employees are actively upskilling and reskilling, it opens up further possibilities for them to fill open skills gaps that exist within your company: the virtuous circle of successful and scalable internal mobility strategies.
Discourage “talent hoarding”
Encourage managers to embrace sharing their top talent with other teams internally. For some managers, it might be a natural feeling to want to “keep” or their top talent to themselves, but sharing talent across the business not only gives employees the opportunity to grow by being exposed to new departments, it is beneficial for the company.
You never know when an employee will discover a new passion, and giving them exposure to teams that could potentially be a great fit for their skill set, is a good way to encourage internal mobility, and talent engagement within the business.
Consider how managers are incentivized when it comes to the development of their people. Are targets based around team performance only? Are leaders rewarded for retaining top talent in the company, even if people move departments?
Provide autonomous career pathing opportunities
Putting employees in the driver’s seat of their own career path is one of the most critical aspects of a good internal mobility strategy.
When your talent is empowered to be in charge of their future, and they have the tools and support they need to accomplish their professional goals (at their own pace), it keeps them motivated and more engaged with their employer than they perhaps would be otherwise.
AI-driven internal mobility software products can be valuable assets to have in this process. AI has the ability to help identify various career paths that are possible for each employee. Indeed, Beamery offers a talent mobility solution that enables artificial intelligence to do just that.
Create a development-oriented review cycle
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t conduct performance reviews (there’s value in these as well), but HR and people teams should consider designing a separate program that is focused specifically on career, personal, and professional development.
This goes hand-in-hand with autonomous career pathing. During development reviews, employees have permission to really think about what they have accomplished in their role already, what they want to accomplish in the future, and what they need in order to achieve their career goals.
Then, each employee can have an open and informed conversation with their manager to discuss what steps they can take to work towards those goals, and what a realistic timeline looks like.
Traditional, rigid approaches to talent management don’t allow employees to have this much control of their career path (without leaving the company and going to another). When employees feel they are heard, and that they have opportunities and support to get to where they want to be, they are much more likely to be open to an internal move within the company and are, therefore, more likely to stay.
Streamline the internal candidate experience
A common complaint from employees across industries is that they aren’t aware (or notified) when opportunities are available to apply to internally. Up to 51% of your current employees don’t even know a role exists until it’s already been filled externally.
When building your internal mobility strategy, one of the goals should be to make it just as easy (if not even easier) for internal candidates to find and apply to open positions.
It should be a strategic goal of every hiring manager and talent professional to provide an excellent candidate experience, regardless of whether the candidate is internal or external.
The benefit of improving the internal candidate experience is two-fold: it makes it easier for employees who are looking for new roles to apply, and it’s significantly cheaper for the business to fill roles internally, than to onboard brand new employees.
It’s crucial that recruiters and hiring managers treat internal applicants the same as external applicants. Provide constructive feedback in a timely manner and acknowledge and thank them for their interest in the position.
If an internal candidate proves to not be the ‘best fit’ for the role, make sure they are treated with the utmost respect — especially when it comes to their privacy. Studies show that overall job satisfaction of rejected candidates trends downward, but they are also more than twice as likely to leave the company compared to their teammates.
Facilitate human connections
With so many organizations facing unprecedented attrition, it’s critical that employers are making a conscious effort to create a culture that establishes lasting human connections within the organization.
Human connections can serve as powerful means of learning for employees and can help establish a sense of belonging for the individuals who are making these connections. The way the world works looks a lot different than it did just a few years ago – hybrid and remote work policies have made it even more important for employers to facilitate human connections.
Some examples of human connections include: mentoring programs, onboarding 'buddies', and networking opportunities. Facilitating these connections internally is just one way that business leaders can improve their talent mobility strategy and to keep employees engaged long term.
Employ an internal mobility solution
Ultimately, the most successful internal mobility programs involve taking the step to invest in software to help bring modern talent strategies to life.
Employing an internal mobility software or Talent Marketplace can help organizations supercharge their talent mobility efforts by utilizing skills-based AI to match internal candidates with open short-term projects or gigs, or matching their skills with open roles within your business.