Half of today’s employees are searching for new jobs or browsing job postings. But they aren’t necessarily looking for a raise or even a promotion. Instead, workers want new skills, capabilities, and responsibilities that may not be available in their current roles. In other words, they want to better themselves.
Surprisingly, many organizations continue to overlook a key opportunity to engage, retain, and re-recruit their talent. Enter internal mobility. Offering employees a meaningful career path, continuous development, and a fulfilling employee experience often makes them feel valued and empowered to grow within their current organization.
There is a compelling case for making our own organizations a primary source for talent and prioritizing internal mobility: 76 percent of high-performing companies are already doing so by regularly tapping internal talent pools (see figure below). A strategic approach to internal mobility helps provide consistent, transparent talent experiences for employees. The outcome? A strong focus on building the capabilities needed for employees to own their career journeys and derive the greatest value from their experiences throughout the time they spend with their organizations—no matter how long their tenure.
Source of Internal Talent—High- versus Low-Performing Organizations
Source: Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2018.
In addition, organizations that handle internal mobility properly can benefit from improved retention rates, strengthened employment brand, and stronger relationships with talent overall, from both the internal and external marketplace.
How Can Managers Help?
Improving internal mobility in an organization starts with a change in mindset and culture. Organizations that prioritize internal mobility are committed to opening doors and opportunities for workers. At times, achieving success in the future workplace means developing different sets of skills, many of which are best learned through shared experiences and exposure to unfamiliar situations. This may seem counter-productive to managers and perceived as an impediment to achieving team goals. After all, how will the team’s get work done if members are too busy learning new skills that could ultimately take them away from current tasks?
The first step a manager can take to address concerns is to remove obstacles that might prevent workers from exploring opportunities for growth and development. Similarly, managers should help identify opportunities (e.g., stretch assignments, special projects, mentoring) for their teams to gain the skills needed for future success, regardless of any perceived impact to productivity.
However, when talent is in short supply, tensions can emerge. No manager wants to lose a star employee. It takes time and resources to find a suitable replacement, and even more time for them to become fully productive. Further, when a hiring manager approaches someone about transitioning to a new role, tensions may worsen between the two sides. In some cases, this can get to a point at which the employee caught in the middle may consider withdrawing from consideration rather than navigating internal politics. Organizations with a strong culture of internal mobility may avoid these pitfalls by setting realistic expectations and processes for engaging internal talent prospects. Additionally, when managers are aware of employees’ career ambitions and desire for new opportunities (lateral or promotional), the end-to-end process can be more seamless, and importantly, more strategic.
Keep in mind that today’s talent no longer views mobility as a privilege, but as an expectation. To compete for and develop top talent, companies should find a way to integrate employee mobility into the range of the employee experience. The entire organization should promote a culture that not only welcomes internal mobility but also champions it. And those companies that are already developing their employees should go a step further by creating new experiences for employees and start looking inside the organization first to help them build meaningful careers.
If your organization is looking to prioritize and improve internal mobility, I’d like to hear from you. In addition, if your organization is working on new employee experience initiatives and you’d like to be interviewed as part of our research, please reach out to Madhura Chakrabarti (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Robin Erickson (email@example.com). In addition, be on the lookout for an online survey later this summer.
Bersin members can download and read the full article, Understanding Employee Experience: Internal Mobility. Bersin members should watch for our continuing articles in this series that take a deeper look into the many aspects of employee experience today. Not a Bersin member but want to know more? Visit the Bersin website. For more insights into employee experience, please see our blog series, which continues over the coming summer weeks.
 “Are Your Star Employees Slipping Away?” Gallup News / Jim Harter and Amy Adkins, February 24, 2017, http://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/204248/star-employees-slipping-away.aspx.
 Six Key Insights to Put Talent Acquisition at the Center of Business Strategy and Execution, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Robin Erickson, PhD, and Denise Moulton, 2018.