Improving Talent Agility Through Internal Mobility: The Definitive Guide
Organizations are constantly evaluating the approach they are using to grow and retain their employees. Regardless of the industry, businesses across the globe are looking for better ways to create an agile workforce, combat employee turnover, and meet evolving employee needs.
Although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there is one mistake a lot of companies have in common: focusing solely on attracting and engaging external talent to meet headcount, fill skills gaps, and plan for the future.
With 96% of employees looking for a new position in 2023, it’s critical for HR leaders to pivot their hiring efforts and take a closer look at the talent they already have — after all, the best-fit candidate for an open role might already be an employee.
So how can you start accessing untapped talent, fill open roles faster, and better plan for the future? It all starts with understanding internal mobility.
The importance of internal mobility is two-fold: it benefits the employee and supports them along their career journey while boosting retention and it helps organizations fill critical roles efficiently, even with tight headcounts and limited budgets.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
The meaning of internal mobility and why it's important
What is talent agility?
Talent agility and internal mobility: the winning combination of employee retention
4 benefits of internal mobility
5 internal mobility best practices
Essential ways to support your internal mobility and talent agility efforts
How to drive impactful results with an internal mobility program
What Today’s Employees Are Looking For
Today’s employees want more — more than just a job, more than 10 days of PTO, more opportunities for growth…the list goes on.
But instead of viewing this expanded set of expectations from today’s workforce as an expensive adjustment to budget, businesses should be approaching it as an opportunity to create lasting relationships with their employees.
After all, engaged employees deliver 21% higher productivity and experience better health outcomes and fewer accidents, according to a Gallup study.
Employees now crave opportunities for growth, advancement, and improvement so much so that employees who are promoted within the first 3 years are 60% more likely to stay within the organization.
In addition to positively impacting retention, 73% of workers are actively looking for information on new roles available within their existing organization. On the flip side, 61% of employees are prepared to quit their current role if they can’t see potential for internal movement and career advancement.
This double-edged sword can be wielded to drive impactful results — including improving talent agility, inspiring employee evolution, and driving business growth. The best way to immediately make an impact on employee engagement and retention? Implementing an internal mobility program.
Internal mobility programs, when supported by the right technology, can help bridge the gap between disengaged employees and company advocates that actively contribute to the success of the business.
What Does Internal Mobility Mean and Why Is It Important?
Internal mobility refers to the vertical or horizontal movement of employees to a new role, career, or developmental opportunity within the same organization.
This migration of employees into newly available roles across the enterprise allows for career growth and the redistribution of talent to meet evolving business needs and the unique needs of the employee.
Internal mobility is a critical component of a scalable employee experience that supports the growth, development, and retention of talent. An effective internal mobility program allows leaders to maximize the skills of their workforce, offer new opportunities to those looking to grow their careers, and encourage the upskilling, reskilling, and redeployment of talent.
Prioritizing internal mobility creates a win-win scenario for the employer and the employee. Now that we covered the meaning of internal mobility and why it’s important, let's dive into its impact on talent agility.
What is Talent Agility?
Although internal mobility and talent agility are commonly used together, they refer to two completely different aspects of talent management.
The meaning of talent agility is the ability of employees to respond and react to unexpected internal or external challenges — such as organizational restructuring or market, economic, or industry fluctuations — in an efficient and effective manner.
Talent agility, or workforce agility, helps unlock the untapped potential of your employees, empowering them to acquire new skills and apply their unique talents toward company goals. This type of alignment to goals, values, and overall company mission creates an engaged workforce that’s invested in the success of the business.
On the leadership side of the house, talent agility serves a critical function because it allows organizations to shift roles and responsibilities, redistribute resources, pivot departmental headcount, and overcome unexpected obstacles with minimal resistance.
Without an agile workforce, external or internal changes can create roadblocks that halt company growth, and in a worst-case scenario, cause the company to close its doors.
How is Talent Agility Different from Internal Mobility?
A successful internal mobility framework should facilitate talent agility across the business. In other words, an internal mobility program can be implemented to help create a more agile workforce, giving employees the tools they need to acquire new skills and pivot in response to unexpected changes.
Fostering talent agility without an internal mobility program can be difficult, costly, and timely — all of which companies can’t afford. By pairing these two efforts together, you can create an effective program that’s scalable and helps futureproof your workforce while engaging your employees.
Let’s take a closer look at how talent agility and internal mobility can be combined to drive impactful results and better prepare your business for the future.
Talent Agility and Internal Mobility: The Winning Combination to Employee Retention
A well-rounded internal mobility program can help employees acquire the skills necessary to pivot responsibilities, specialties, and workloads without time-consuming retraining efforts — and more importantly, without needing to be replaced. This type of agility is invaluable to businesses.
For employees, internal mobility programs provide them with new opportunities to grow their careers. When supported by the right technology, an internal mobility framework can illuminate career paths, provide learning and development opportunities, connect employees with mentors, and make projects and gigs available to gain new experience — effectively eliminating any confusion about what the possibilities are.
Having all of this information “under one roof” makes it easy for individuals to explore what the future might have in store for them at your company.
Internal mobility programs, when set up correctly, make it simple for employees to take an active part in their career development. It also makes it harder for them to leave since they’ll be taking a step into the unknown.
Related: How Kuehne+Nagel Empowers Employees To Own and Grow Their Careers
Overall, removing the uncertainty surrounding how they fit into the organizational structure now and in the future offers peace of mind that’s worth its weight in gold — especially during uncertain economic times.
So where does talent agility come in? All of the elements that create a stellar internal mobility program also support talent agility. As employees acquire new skills, gain hands-on experience, align and learn from mentors, and enroll in learning and development courses, they’re becoming more agile, resilient workers.
These investments in their personal and professional growth can be taken with them anywhere — but it also gives individuals a big reason to stick around, even when times are tough.
4 Benefits of Internal Mobility
Approaching internal mobility through the lens of driving talent agility allows your business to think long-term and focus on scalable solutions. Here are 5 ways that internal mobility can improve outcomes for your talent acquisition and talent management teams:
1. Streamline internal talent acquisition and broaden your talent pool
Your workforce is full of individuals with unique talents that are already aligned with your company’s mission, values, and vision. They understand your processes and function as a vetted pool of talent that’s available to upskill into future roles or fill critical positions on the fly.
By highlighting available roles in internal job boards, or a talent marketplace, your TA team can expand your talent pipeline, offer new opportunities to employees, and create internal mobility success stories when existing talent migrates into new positions.
There are fewer things better than showing employees what’s possible at your business than having success stories spread by word of mouth. On top of this, companies like Newell Brands decreased time to fill by 89% after adopting an internal recruiting strategy supported by the right HR technology.
The possibilities are endless when you start to look at the untapped potential under your roof.
2. Improve visibility for employees, managers, and leaders
Visibility is critical when you’re trying to create a more agile workforce. Keeping employees top of mind during large changes caused by internal or external factors helps ensure that workers feel like they’ve been kept in the loop. The best way to ensure they have access to the tools and resources they need during times of uncertainty is by housing all internal mobility features in one place.
We recommend using a talent marketplace to support internal mobility efforts since it keeps career pathing, internal mobility, mentoring opportunities, learning and development, and more in one easy-to-access location. It also creates a platform that can be used to communicate updates to the entire business. (Keep reading to learn about a real-world example of this approach.)
With all of these features in one place, employees can engage with content, managers can recommend upskilling opportunities based on one-on-one conversations, and leaders can track adoption alongside other metrics. This type of organization-wide visibility is an integral part of fostering scalable talent agility.
Related Resource: Talent Marketplace: The Next Evolution in Internal Mobility and Career Intelligence
3. Allow for future planning based on highlighted skills gaps in the workforce
Piggybacking off of improved visibility, internal mobility programs supported by intelligent AI and automation can help highlight skills gaps in the organization. When expectations change and adjustments need to be made, it’s hard to know how successful revamp efforts will be when you don’t know what your workforce is capable of.
Gaining insight into skills gaps through employee profiles allows leaders and managers to determine who is available to upskill into new roles or fill critical gaps that could make or break their strategy when looking to achieve new goals.
Assessing skills gaps offers a deeper understanding of what a business can truly accomplish in-house before looking externally to add to the roster. It also drives smarter, data-driven hiring decisions.
4. Foster talent agility, creating a more resilient workforce
Internal mobility programs keep learning opportunities and career development paths at the forefront of employees’ minds. By visualizing the next steps and getting recommendations on how to take those steps, individuals can broaden their skill set, gain experience in other departments, and explore their passions — all while contributing to the business's bottom line.
Employees with various skill sets can be shifted throughout the company to lend a helping hand and gain hands-on experience. Regardless if they choose to update their career path based on what they’ve learned, they’ll always be able to feel confident in their abilities to take on new responsibilities. They will also know that your company supports their individual growth which goes a long way in today’s hiring climate.
Armed with new skills and experiences, your workforce becomes more adaptable and agile every day. Internal mobility is truly the key to creating a more resilient workforce.
Real-World Example: How The Warehouse Group Created an Agile Workforce in Response to Organizational Changes
The Warehouse Group (TWG), one of New Zealand’s largest retailers owning 260+ stores across the country, was faced with a new challenge directly correlated with the COVID-19 pandemic. To continue exceeding the expectations of consumers, TWG needed to shift to a more agile way of work.
To meet this challenge head-on, TWG went through a reorganization. Teams were restructured and streamlined, job titles were changed, and new roles were created throughout the business.
The transformation affected thousands of employees across the entire enterprise and country. To help smooth the transition, the TWG talent acquisition team pivoted its focus to support this change through employee experience upgrades.
The first step was to ensure they communicated in every way possible throughout the transition. This included using Phenom internal mobility alongside employee portal capabilities to launch an internal site that housed pertinent career information and educational resources.
Through this microsite, TWG was able to effectively communicate the what and why behind the shift toward more agile processes. They also wanted to ensure employees knew where they fit into the process, how to navigate the new career paths, and how to access new opportunities within the re-structured organization.
This effort to create better employee experiences and drive engagement through an uncertain time proved to be the right decision. The results of this effort? Within the first two months of going live with their employee experience revamp, including the internal mobility microsite, TWG saw:
1,400 new sign-ups in three days
12,471 employee visits
3,167 apply clicks to internal positions
97,767 total page views
Take a closer look at The Warehouse Group’s story here.
This is just one example of how focusing on creating phenomenal employee experiences during times of uncertainty can create a more engaged workforce, illuminate internal mobility opportunities, and foster talent agility across the organization.
5 Best Practices for Your Internal Mobility Strategy
Designing and implementing an internal mobility strategy starts with understanding some best practices that will help you avoid common pitfalls. Here are five steps to accelerate your internal mobility strategy development:
Step 1: Don’t Just Focus on High Performers
High-performing employees are key members of your organization that possess the potential for upward movement within their existing department or the company. When this move is done successfully, it highlights the options employees have to move around from position to position within the organization, inspiring others to consider internal mobility before looking externally for a new role.
But just because an employee is a high performer, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re grandfathered into the high potential category. High-potential employees (also known as HiPos) are those working within your organization who are coined by management as “rising stars”.
In order to create an effective internal mobility strategy, you have to take into account both your high performing and high potential employees. High potential employees have the ability to be great assets to the organization, but they need resources to assist them with their development and evolution.
Being able to identify these individuals is key to figuring out how to motivate and retain them through an internal mobility strategy.
Step 2: Educate and Empower Your Managers
Traditionally, internal mobility wasn’t widely talked about — especially between employees and managers. As a consequence, many employees decided to remain unhappy at work instead of voicing their desire for change, making it an easy decision for talent to leave when they wanted a new opportunity.
Although it’s clear the benefits internal mobility provides, It’s up to the organization to educate frontline management on why internal mobility conversations are a good thing. Just because this means a manager may end up losing an employee in their department, it doesn’t mean the individual shouldn’t be provided with the right opportunities to grow and flourish in a different part of the organization.
Outside of management education, it’s also crucial to empower your managers to have conversations with employees focused on their career paths within the company. Truly understanding an employee’s motivators, gaps, and potential goes a long way when it comes to implementing an internal mobility strategy.
Step 3: Develop Learning Resources
Developing an internal mobility strategy also involves having the right learning and development resources in place for your employees. These resources support attraction and retention efforts for the enterprise, and they put talent in touch with the tools they need for career development.
Without easy access to available tools and resources, workers are left wondering what their future looks like, making it a no-brainer to look outside the organization when future planning.
"Companies should focus more heavily on career strategies, talent mobility, and organizational ecosystems and networks to facilitate both individual and organizational reinvention." – Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report
When employees are provided with growth opportunities and clear career paths, they will feel more valued — which can drive better outcomes for both the organization and the individual.
Step 4: Make it Part of Your Culture
If talent attraction and retention efforts are a priority for your business, you have to make internal mobility a core part of your culture. This involves securing buy-in from your executive team, empowering management, and keeping employees updated on learning opportunities and openings for lateral or upward movement as they arise.
More importantly, employees from the top level down have to understand that internal mobility isn’t a negative strategy.
The goal isn’t to cause fights between departments over top talent. The goal is to allow employees at all levels the opportunity for advancement, as well as personal and professional growth.
With everyone on the same page and understanding the positive impact internal mobility has on a business, your teams can start to integrate internal mobility efforts into your company culture.
Step 5: Utilize the Right Technology to Help
All of these steps are important items to have in place in order to create an internal mobility strategy. However, a critical component is having the right technology in place to help communicate new opportunities.
One of the best ways is to implement a talent marketplace platform, not just an internal career site. It should allow employees to create a personalized profile, outlining their career aspirations and interests as well as their current skills.
In turn, employees should have the ability to view learning and development opportunities, internal career openings, personalized content, and internal contacts to reach out to for more information.
A talent marketplace platform can also provide talent acquisition teams the ability to source internal talent based on current openings. In a larger corporation, this technology is a critical factor in the overall success of the internal mobility strategy you plan to implement.
Essential Ways to Support Your Internal Mobility and Talent Agility Efforts
Creating an internal mobility framework is just the beginning. To implement your strategy effectively, it’s critical that you find the right technology to support your efforts. Here are a few platform features you should keep top of mind:
A talent marketplace is a logical starting point that creates a strong foundation for employee growth, development, and retention. It affords a means for employees to identify opportunities for learning, development, connectivity, and more all from one place – thus facilitating internal mobility and talent agility efforts.
Career pathing helps employees evolve in their careers and with your organization. AI-driven career pathing tech can synthesize employee skills, interests, and job experience with professional goals — and help employees chart their career progression.
Look for career pathing technology that generates fit scores and skills gap analysis. These tools help employees understand the skills they need to make their next career move.
Gigs and projects
With an internal talent marketplace that supports gig work, managers can create and post listings for short-term work experiences and projects.
Employees can create a profile, select their skills, and browse and apply to appropriate projects. HR team members and managers can then search for internal talent based on needed skills and more quickly identify best-fit candidates.
An AI-powered talent marketplace will automatically suggest gigs to employees that match their skills and competency level. And it works in the other direction, too, referring qualified employees to managers looking for internal talent to complete short-term tasks.
Related Resource: How to Launch an Internal Gig Marketplace
Connecting employees with mentoring opportunities is a great way to help foster meaningful relationships and put individuals in touch with people that can help foster their career growth in a more hands-on way. Within a talent marketplace, users should be able to easily explore available mentors and receive recommendations based on their desired career path, skills, or experience.
Mentees, on the other hand, should be able to stay on top of the progress they are making in their ongoing engagements with mentors so they can stay on track along the way. As stewards of their employee growth, development, and performance - managers should be able to visualize how many (and which) members of their team are actively connected and engaged with mentors.
The right mentoring capabilities will provide managers with AI-driven, contextually-relevant guidance that helps facilitate connections between employees and mentors where gaps exist. They should also be able to stay up to date with the overall progress that their team is making over time, for example, developing new skills and experience and qualifying for new opportunities.
With the right technology to support your referral program, you can make it easy for employees to refer their professional networks to open roles. A good tool will let employees link right to open positions on your career site and enable them to post to social media sites.
Tracking capabilities are essential to keep everyone in the loop regarding hiring status – and to recognize employees for their contribution to getting new talent in the door.
Employee Resource Groups
Technology can also drive an organization’s commitment to DE&I. AI can be leveraged to suggest employee resource groups (ERGs) to employees that match their expressed interests. Your ERGs can help employees discover connections with colleagues who share similar interests regarding background, culture, and lifestyle.
Drive Impactful Results with an Internal Mobility Program
Internal mobility is mission-critical when it comes to fostering engagement, creating a more agile workforce, and boosting retention. By implementing an internal mobility program, your business can effectively communicate any unexpected changes while giving employees the tools they need to succeed.
Promoting from within and leveraging the untapped potential of your existing workforce is one of the best ways to fill critical roles and create lasting relationships with your employees. Whether an individual wants to move vertically or horizontally, leveraging internal mobility HR technology can make it easy for them to draw a line from where they are now to where they want to be.
At Phenom, we focus on creating holistic solutions that will support your internal mobility efforts and foster talent agility in a way that’s scalable, reliable, and data-driven.
Through Phenom Talent Marketplace, we offer all the features you need to successfully implement your internal mobility frameworks, including:
Career Pathing — improve visibility into available roles across the business while highlighting a clear set of possibilities for each employee based on their skills, expertise, location, and interests.
Gigs — connect employees with short-term projects to help different departments achieve their goals while gaining hands-on experience and acquiring new skills to help them achieve their next career milestone.
Mentoring — engineered to leverage AI and machine learning, Phenom Mentoring recommends best-fit mentors and makes registering to be a mentor a simple, straightforward process.
Referrals — easily tap into your employees’ networks, fill critical roles faster, and track successes through real-time analytics.
Employee Resource Groups — empower your workforce to connect with their coworkers, build internal networks, and engage with open roles while fostering a better sense of belonging.
To learn more about what Phenom Talent Marketplace can help you achieve, check out our Definitive Guide.
Want to take a closer look at how Phenom Talent Marketplace works? Take an on-demand product tour in under 30 minutes.
Kasey is a content marketing writer, focused on highlighting the importance of positive experiences. She's passionate about SEO strategy, collaboration, and data analytics. In her free time, she enjoys camping, cooking, exercising, and spending time with her loved ones — including her dog, Rocky.
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