Employee experience is finally having its well-deserved time in the spotlight — especially as more companies feel the squeeze of tight labor markets and aim to reduce turnover with a unified talent solution that also facilitates internal mobility.
The prioritization is warranted. Although 94% of employees said they’d stay with companies they believe are invested in their careers, most organizations struggle when it comes to developing their internal talent pool and increasing visibility of career growth opportunities for their people.
But there are key strategies and technology that can help. Shelia Gray, VP of Talent Acquisition at Quadient, shared how the international customer communications leader overhauled its approach to internal mobility to power a better employee experience and turn intention into action.
Why Internal Mobility Is More Critical Than Ever
On the heels of the pandemic, organizations have emerged with fresh insights when it comes to fostering employee agility and career growth. Two top motivators companies need to consider, according to Gray:
Your employer brand and employee value proposition are at stake. Internal mobility represents a commitment you make to your employees — and you need to demonstrate that you value it, Gray said, or your employer brand can suffer. Even more importantly, “You definitely do not want to lose your employee value proposition,” she revealed. “If employees don’t feel that the organization truly values them, they’ll seek opportunities that do.”
Candidates view internal mobility as a differentiator. When choosing between potential employers, key considerations for top talent include salary, purpose, culture, and professional development opportunities. Gray’s team commonly fields questions regarding career growth offerings from both external candidates and internal employees. They're looking for a “differentiator” and a stand-out candidate or employee experience, she said.
The Disconnect Between External vs Internal Apply Experience
A poignant fact Gray emphasized: More than 50% of respondents to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey thought their employees would have an easier time finding a new job with a new employer than within their current organization.“That’s a reflection on us as HR professionals,” Gray said. “What are we doing to make the internal experience meaningful?”
A very visible starting place is the experience that employees encounter when they apply for an internal position. How does your internal job site stack up against your external career site? Chances are, it’s not as “sexy,” Gray pointed out.
Instead of a seamless experience filled with engaging video content, personalized job recommendations, and a job seeker-friendly chatbot to handle FAQs, interview scheduling, and more, employees may not even have a central organized place to see internal opportunities and apply.
This was the case for Quadient. Despite their amazing candidate experience, the apply process for employees was notably less sophisticated and efficient. “When it came to internal mobility, we were sending out old-school emails, we were putting stuff on bulletin boards internally to the organization instead of leveraging technology and building off of our community,” she said.
The unfortunate consequence of this approach? Employee resumes can easily fall into a black hole, Gray noted, instead of ending up in front of recruiters and hiring managers where they belong.
Prerequisites to Support An Internal Talent Marketplace
Gray knew that to improve internal mobility, the concept would need to be holistically integrated into organizational culture. But how?
Ask the right questions. “The first piece for me on my journey with my organization was to look at our culture around internal mobility. How easy is it to move from one opportunity to another? How do you know what opportunities exist? Do we have platforms, tools and support? And what is our philosophy in terms of managers supporting the movement of their people throughout the organization?”
Invest in the right technology. Gray was laser-focused on making Quadient an enabler of internal mobility, and something she knew they needed was the technology to support it at scale. Quadient chose to invest in Phenom Employee Experience and its internal mobility capabilities, which provides AI-powered job recommendations, as well as learning and upskilling opportunities tailored to an employee-defined career path.
To create and develop a flourishing internal talent marketplace, visibility is key. A convenient employee microsite now gives employees a one-stop-shop to browse and apply for open roles, keep track of applications, identify growth opportunities, and even make referrals.
“We spent time with our employees and actually created a name for it: the Career Hub,” Gray said. “So people know, ‘If I'm looking for opportunities for development, I go to the Hub.’ It's a wonderful, wonderful catch-all.”
Align employees, recruiters and hiring managers. At Quadient, Gray established policies to guide the posting of internal jobs and the movement of eligible employees. When developing internal mobility policies, organizations need to consider:
- Should hiring managers be able to proactively contact internal employees and encourage them to apply for open positions without discussing it with the current manager or HR?
- Do employees need to inform managers when they’re looking at internal opportunities?
- Do managers need to know when team members are being considered for another opportunity?
“Think about those questions carefully, because it makes a statement to employees,” Gray advised. “If you require them to notify their manager every time they’re applying for another position, what does that say about their ability to own their career?” On the other hand, once things have progressed to the point where employees are being considered for an opportunity, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to managers.
Encouraging managers to champion internal mobility is another important piece of the culture. But it can be difficult for managers to lose an employee they’ve invested in and coached, Gray acknowledged, so it’s important to help them embrace new thinking.
“The message to managers here should be: You’re not losing them – the organization is gaining that knowledge. Feel proud as their manager and coach that you’ve allowed them to grow to meet new opportunities,” she said.
Assessing Workforce Planning Metrics
Aligning employees, recruiters, and hiring managers is central to all successful hiring initiatives — internal positions included. According to Gray, part of that alignment comes down to understanding and sharing two essential workforce planning metrics:
Attrition. Continuously backfilling the same positions may indicate stalled growth. ”When we find we’re spending most of our time filling turnover roles, we have to ask ourselves why people are leaving,” Gray said.
Exit interview data. When asked “Why are you leaving?,” exiting employees overwhelmingly cite “better opportunities”. That needs follow-up, Gray said. “Do we ask, ‘What does that look like to you?’ Do we learn from that?” Digging deeper to uncover trends and areas of improved career growth visibility can only strengthen your internal mobility initiatives.
“When I look at the jobs we fill, I look at the time, effort, and dollars we spend in the external market. I always stop and say, ‘Is there a better way to do things? Am I fully utilizing internal mobility to benefit the organization? Is my organization and my function delivering on our commitment to employees?’”
Having access to powerful real-time talent analytics that provide key data and insights into all of your talent experiences can expose areas for improvement and ways to track success.
Tying Internal Mobility to KPIs
Organizations are beginning to take better ownership of employee development, as evidenced in a study by CEB, a subsidiary of Gartner, which found that senior executives at 20% of companies surveyed had a performance objective tied to internal mobility metrics.
This is good news for employees and organizations alike, because accountability inspires action. “We own the concept of being internal coaches and sponsors for our employees,” Gray asserted. “That’s a big commitment, and now we need to live up to it.”
In addition to tying internal mobility initiatives to KPIs, many companies are going beyond a check-the-box approach to internal mobility by offering mentoring programs, too, Gray mentioned. The right mentor can be instrumental in helping someone learn, network, and develop a fulfilling and successful career trajectory.
Gray’s parting words of advice: “When you think about internal mobility, think about it as an investment. Think about it as a long-term strategy… and how much richer your organization will be if you invest in it.”
Employees are paying attention, and it is a game-changer to attract and retain top talent in this competitive market.