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Why Building Up your Talent Mobility Strategies is Critical Today

Talent practitioner trying to find more efficient ways to hire? Here’s a tip: stop hiring.

We’re in the middle of a major skills shortage, and the pandemic has only made things worse. Now, businesses are under pressure to build back, recoup losses and scale even faster to stay competitive. To do that they need top talent – but the market is more volatile than ever. To say it’s a tough time for talent teams tasked with bringing in the people needed to hit critical businesses goals would be an understatement.

But what if talent teams are already sitting on a huge, untapped pipeline of qualified candidates with a proven culture fit? Existing employees know the business, have demonstrable track records and can start adding value in a fraction of the time it takes to source, interview and onboard new candidates.

In the current economy, talent mobility strategies that help identify and develop people and skills already inside the businesses are crucial. Not only do they cut the time and cost it takes to fill roles externally, they also help improve engagement and retention. 

How talent mobility strategies drive value

Increasingly, businesses are moving budget away from external recruitment, instead investing internal L&D, reskilling and upskilling. It’s worth doing, and offers a range of significant value-adds for both talent and talent teams.

Cheaper to hire

Not only does re-deploying existing talent circumvent the fierce and frustrating competition for talent, it also makes economic sense. The numbers show that it’s substantially cheaper to train existing staff into technical roles than to hire anew. It can cost as much as 6x more to hire externally than to build from within.

Better performance

Internal hires perform significantly better than external ones in their first two years at a new role, and are 61% less likely to be laid off. According to industry analyst Josh Bersin, that’s because they “gain perspective, cultural insights, and can perform in unique and productive ways because of their relationships and knowledge of all parts of the company.”

Quicker to ramp

Because internal hires already know the businesses, they have a shorter learning curve and are quicker to ramp up. They add value faster than external hires, helping businesses accelerate projects and retain their market position.

Engaged and retained

Most importantly, organizations who prioritize internal mobility have better employee engagement and retention rates. Research shows that employees who are promoted within 3 years have a 70% chance of staying with a business, and those that move laterally have a 62% chance. For those who don’t move jobs internally, that number drops to 45%. In fact, the majority of employees say it’s easier to find new jobs in different organizations than to progress internally, meaning organizations who don’t develop their existing workforce are at serious risk of churn.

How to improve talent mobility strategies with AI

AI can help improve internal mobility strategies by mapping the skills that already exist within the business. It can identify people who have the potential to fill current roles, as well as those that could be developed to fill future ones. It can also make that process smoother and more transparent for employees, creating tailored career development plans and easy ways for them to find and apply for internal opportunities.

We’ve written elsewhere about why it’s important for talent teams to think in terms of skills instead of job titles. Doing so can help them take both a wider and a more nuanced view of the talent available to them, and to apply it more dynamically across the business.

AI is critical for doing that at scale. AI learns faster, and can often infer information from data that humans can’t. That means AI is able to build a detailed picture of existing talent and sift through it at speed, finding best-fit internal candidates for open roles and matching them to opportunities automatically. That cuts trawl and manual admin for recruiters, and helps them build a bigger, better pipeline of talent.

It also improves outcomes for employees themselves. Getting granular about skills rather than roles means AI can suggest lateral moves that may not have been obvious to talent, and build development plans that give them a clear idea of the steps they need to take to progress. That can be particularly helpful for improving diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), because it assesses and develops talent based on objective, standardised metrics. People who are under-represented in certain groups or teams might not even consider moving into them; AI can help open up whole new career paths.

From Talent Mobility to Talent Lifecycle Management

Improving your Talent Mobility programs is only the first step. One immediate impact of the evolution towards skills-based talent management is the ability to look at talent as individuals with a living, evolving set of skills with dynamic levels of proficiency, as opposed to static collections of requirements that fit an existing open role. In other words, companies will soon be able to look at an individual and understand not only the skills they have today and the value they can currently bring to the business, but how they can and want to grow, and how they might grow with the business.

The future of talent acquisition and management is already being heavily influenced by this shift towards Talent Lifecycle Management. With the recent upheaval of the global job market that the COVID-19 pandemic has created, talent teams are thinking in terms of hybrid working models, both full-time and part-time, contract, project-based, in-person and remotely based throughout the globe. Whether it is to improve your workforce planning or shift your perspective on internal mobility or talent attraction, AI will play a foundational role in your talent strategy in the next few years.

A strong internal mobility strategy is perhaps the key weapon in the arsenal for talent teams struggling to meet ambitious hiring goals in volatile market conditions. Internal mobility strategies not only help them hire more efficiently in the short-term, but also set them up well for the future with a gold mine of highly-skilled, highly-engaged staff. For talent teams tight on time and budget, it’s time to build, not buy.