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Why Internal Mobility Is Integral to an Immaculate Talent Strategy?

Sep 04, 2019


  • EDITORIAL TEAM Talent Management Institute
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High-performing organizations warrant the inevitable link between hiring, retention and internal mobility. These organizations are increasingly investing time, efforts and resources on creating a growth conducive environment and they are viewing internal mobility as the key to it. Many new highest performing organizations are tying internal mobility to their hiring targets. These targets are linked to management compensation to ensure the plans are implemented in the right way. Bersin’s 2018 talent acquisition industry study says 3 out of 4 high-performing talent acquisition teams leverage internal mobility in comparison with 1 in 10 low-performing teams.

But, what about the others? The picture differs substantially at the substratum.

Talent - A Precondition for Performance.

Robots, AI and disruptive technologies may have taken the front seat in our promised ride to future but humans still are at the driving seat. A brilliant vision without necessary talent in place is as good as a fancy car without a driver. It is unlikely to reach anywhere. But where is the talent? The skill crunch has driven talent managers to the extreme edges of efforts. Despite the mushrooming social networks like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Twitter, Instagram and all, spotting and reaching the right talent remains a waning goal. In the pursuit of the talent rainbow at the horizon, talent managers are greatly missing the resolution right under their noses - their existing employees. Hence arises the need for internal mobility. Those who took it as a respite discovered it to be the perfect resolution. A simple change in the employees’ role or department within the organization produced remarkable results. That led to a plethora of permutations and combinations, including but not limited to new profiles, project, shadowing, mentorship opportunities and job swaps. Nevertheless, these efforts remained constrained to countable few.

Stats and Stories:

Facts and figures abound, stats and stories have proven internal mobility to benefit in varied ways. The most prominent being:

  • Marked-up employee engagement – Cisco ’s Future Workplace Forecast: Navigating the Future of Work, 2016 study says internal mobility improves employee engagement by 49%. Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report reveals engaged employees bring 20% increase in sales.
  • Improved employee retention – LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report says an astounding 94% of employees assert they would stay with their existing organization if it invests in their careers.
  • Shrunk costs – A 2018 Deloitte insights article states that big organizations lose up to USD 4 million per year in turnovers and new hires. On average, a new employee takes 2 years to reach the performance level of an existing employee. Internal mobility can save the new hiring and training costs as the existing employee already knows the organization’s culture, systems and processes. Another Deloitte 2018 article says organizations that hire internally are “32% more likely to be satisfied with the quality of their new hires”.
  • Diminished risks, greater returns – Organizations that spend only 6% of their hiring budgets on internal candidates can fill up to 14% of jobs by doing so.
  • Weaved-in motivation – Internal job postings motivate employees to skill up and prepare for better roles ahead. They also set examples for other employees to follow. External hires are 61% more likely to be fired compared to an internal hire. External employees are also 21% more likely to quit.
  • Ascertained results – Trusting a proven performer and culture-fit is easier than trusting a novice.

Why Internal Mobility Is Central to Agile Talent Management:

Automation has greatly slashed the shelf life of contemporary skills. The skills gaps are spreading out faster than ever, prevailing skills are metamorphosing and disruptive technologies are coming stronger on existing skills and processes. Together, these agents are necessitating internal mobility. It equips the talent managers to lay their game plan for the future labor market and address any lacuna in existing skills, in time. More predictability, better focus and snipped time make it a far surer and faster strategy than external hiring. Internal mobility boosts the organizations’ competitiveness because the workers are busy continually upgrading themselves. It bolsters organizations’ capabilities and productivity. With the ingrained knowledge-driven framework, excellence-driven workplace culture is just another offshoot of the whole topiary. And within no time the word spreads in the job market and the organization invariably establishes itself as a top-employer brand. Internal mobility reinforces professionalism among existing employees and aligns their personal goals with those of the organization.

The Culture Pitfall:

Culture has emerged as the biggest impediment to internal mobility. Many organizations discourage managers from “poaching” performers from other departments. Leaders need to build a culture than encourage discovery and involvement of workers at all levels. Often recruiters search for a candidate online and land up on one already employed in the client’s company only in a different role. The question is if they can, why the employers themselves can’t.

Deloitte’s 2018 survey found while 87% of employers concur a concrete internal mobility program will benefit their retention and employer branding goals, only 33% of employers have the same in place.

5 Steps for a Sound Internal Mobility Strategy:

Talent managers can take the following actions to promote internal mobility:

  • Stop thinking money (remuneration and benefits) as an all-comprising solution.
  • Address the structural and culture hurdles.
  • Adopt a systematic approach to promote internal mobility.
  • Use storytelling and talk about people who climbed up the ladder. Home Depot uses this strategy and its leaders consistently talk about their own career ladder.
  • Generate awareness: Awareness is the key and the most effective way is to channelize the development from the top.

Internal mobility is no more a choice. A failure to build efficient internal mobility system can lead to ‘negative talent cycle’ with high turnovers among top-performers. Loyalty between employers and employees is a two-way street now.

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