Internal Mobility: Achieving a Win-Win for Your Organization and Employees

By | 3 minute read | May 20, 2019

The global talent shortage is considered to be the top emerging risk that organizations are facing today. Acquiring enough skilled workers through recruiting continues to get more difficult and expensive.

Considering this continuing trend, what can HR leaders do to help their organizations reliably meet their talent and skill needs moving forward?

A good option is to turn your focus inward, to developing employees and making it easier for them to change jobs internally ­— laterally or upward in your organization. In particular, consider establishing an internal mobility program that aligns your employees’ future career goals with your organization’s talent and skill needs, and then provides a roadmap for employees to reach those goals.

A successful internal mobility program can be a win-win for your organization and employees, with benefits including:

  • Reduced current or future skill gaps. Research shows that executives are very worried about the availability of key skills when it comes to competing in the future.
  • Reduced voluntary attrition. Three out of four high-potential workers say they would be attracted to a new job in a different organization if it offered better career development opportunities.
  • Better employee experience. Employees feel valued when their employer creates and communicates opportunities for their professional advancement.
  • Reduced cost to hire. Hiring from within is often less costly than sourcing external candidates.

Everyone’s Competing for the Same Talent and Skills

A critical point to recognize about today’s job market is organizations are largely competing for the same talent and skills. As a result, organizations that develop high-potential employees’ skills internally to succeed in key roles will have a competitive advantage.

Moving forward, the growing competition around Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies such as artificial intelligence could further exacerbate talent and skills challenges. AI decision-makers already struggle with finding and acquiring AI talent. Meanwhile, although some have postulated that these technologies will eliminate jobs, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2018 report projects that 133 million new jobs could be created by such technologies, compared to 75 million jobs displaced, between 2018 and 2022.

Eight Steps to Jump Start an Internal Mobility Program

  1. Set the Foundation. Perform the prep work that is critical to the success of any important HR initiative. Key components include getting executive buy-in, having someone take ownership of the program, setting measurable goals, putting the necessary development resources in place, and communicating the purpose of the program to managers and employees.
  2. Get Intelligence from Managers. Your HR team should talk to managers to discover key talent and skill areas of need in your organization, and to uncover potential internal career growth opportunities for employees.
  3. Conduct a Skills Audit. In addition to gathering intelligence from managers, assess the future skills and competencies that your business will need to be successful in about five years. Then, evaluate the gap that you will need to bridge over time through upskilling or hiring new talent.
  4. Provide Guidance to Managers. Managers don’t become managers because of their ability to provide employees with effective career coaching. So, it’s important for your HR team to be sure they understand best practices for conducting career coaching conversations and developing employees.
  5. Make Employees Aware of Breadth of Career Opportunities. Making employees aware of career opportunities increases the chance that they will find the optimal path forward in your organization, whether through upward moves (promotion) or lateral moves (new jobs at a similar level). Technology solutions can provide instant visibility into new roles employees may be interested in applying for.
  6. Personalize Career Coaching. Similar to Netflix and its personalized movie recommendations, career coaching technology makes personalized learning recommendations and highlights relevant internal job opportunities. Employees are able to track the progress of their skills development against their career goals. Employers, meanwhile, are able to identify valuable skills sets and employee aspirations, and better address current and forecasted talent needs.
  7. Take a Long View. Instead of creating a roadmap to employees’ next job with your organization, consider extending it to another job down the line, to the “next next job.” This encourages employees to take a longer view of their time with your organization and develop the future in-demand skills identified in step #3.
  8. Track Progress. It’s important for employees and your organization to track goal progression. Also, be sure to evaluate the overall progress of the internal mobility program in developing employees and helping them move onto new internal roles.

Read the guide to building a culture of internal mobility

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