10 tips to improve a company’s internal mobility

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Talent acquisition is one of the biggest challenges faced by organisations today. Driving sustainable growth across a business requires the right talent, but the skills shortage, the length of time to recruit and competition for the best talent combine to create a highly complex environment. Recruiting externally is costly, and  there’s the added risk the candidate may not stay in the role: one study found that 30% of new employees leave within the first 90 days. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why creating an efficient, purposeful recruiting strategy is high on every organisation’s agenda.

There is one strategy businesses can use to overcome these issues which is still overlooked by many businesses - Internal Mobility. This approach to talent uncovers hidden potential within an organisation. It keeps a workplace agile and responsive. Recruiting from within is the secret weapon behind some of the world’s most prominent high-growth businesses. It results in faster time-to-hire, improved productivity and better retention. Employees retain intelligence, experience, existing relationships and their deeper understanding of the internal workings of an organisation, which can take months for new external recruits to learn.

The good news is, it’s not too late for your company to rethink its hiring practices and generate strong Internal Mobility, but it does require a cultural shift. Here are some actionable ways you can reinvent talent management to drive meaningful changes across your business:

1.       Adopt an ‘inside first’ mindset

Shifting talent acquisition to consider internal candidates before looking externally is the first step. At Pitney Bowes, we fill more than 50% of jobs internally. We’re committed to taking an ‘Inside First’ look at our talent, putting the right people in the right place, at the right time. There are times your business will need to look outside the business to access certain skill sets, but if you can train and upskill internal applicants, you should do so. For Pitney Bowes, this strategy helps us build long-term success and generate sustainable growth and engagement, as employees understand we are committed to their career goals.

2.       Encourage, value and celebrate mobility across your organisation

Internal mobility needs to be supported at every level within a business for the strategy to be a success. Measurable goals help ensure this happens. To create this supportive environment, businesses must foster a culture of transparency: if employees are afraid to tell their managers they want a change, mobility will be hindered. The communication of opportunities across all channels is crucial to maintaining dynamic, strategic Internal Mobility. For best practice, share examples of employees’ movement across an organisation, to model success and inspire adoption.

3.       Create a culture of continuous feedback

As Bill Gates says, “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve”. Yet many organisations still rely heavily on annual performance management processes as the main way to provide feedback.  This process misses opportunities for valuable conversations throughout the year. For performance management to be meaningful and drive Internal Mobility, businesses should shift to a culture of continuous feedback. With continuous feedback, employees and their managers learn where improvements can be made. Regular check-ins address performance against objectives, employees take ownership of their career paths, and the business can identify talent which matches open opportunities.

4.        Create an intentionally inclusive environment that values diversity

Every employee has diverse or distinguishing characteristics which are part of who they are such as country of origin, thought process, gender orientation, and generation.  Creating an environment where differences are valued allows them to bring the best of who they are to work. This supports better individual performance and the company’s understanding of where their skills and thought processes might be applied throughout the organisation.

5.        Make sure the right technologies are in place  

Businesses must make sure the right tools and technologies are in place to support and promote Internal Mobility and generate a data-driven approach. For employees, access to apps, intranets and SaaS-based systems enables them to identify current opportunities, own and update their talent profiles, making it easier for internal talent acquisition teams to identify the needed skills in searches for specific roles. Talent acquisition teams with accurate, current data in place and the right tools to manage and analyse this data enable the business to better understand gaps, identify trends, forecast demand and deploy talent.

6.       Focus on the employee experience

Organisations need to think carefully about why people join their company and why they stay. Often, the same three reasons will arise: work/life balance; the people; and internal growth and development opportunities. Building a culture that supports employees in these areas will deliver a better employee experience from recruitment right through to retirement. Businesses must also focus on empowerment: smart businesses with high levels of Internal Mobility empower individuals to own and map their own career paths, developing and nurturing a broad range of skills which align to their goals, with individuals moving laterally across the business to extend their existing skills and develop new ones.

7.       Work hard to improve engagement

Engagement is a crucial part of the employee experience and a significant contributor to driving Internal Mobility. A Gallup study found that highly engaged teams are 21% more productive than teams with low levels of engagement. Employees feel engaged when they are learning and growing, when they can voice their opinions, when organisations offer them meaningful work and the kind of environment where they can believe in what the company is seeking to do. Engaged, valued employees reward businesses with their loyalty.

8.       Remove barriers to adoption  

There may be longstanding barriers and processes which prevent Internal Mobility. Organisations must work hard to identify and remove these barriers. Perhaps employees feel restricted from moving roles due to their physical location, where agile working practices could remove these barriers. Some might feel training provision is inadequate for their career aspirations, or not well informed about the opportunities available to them. A commitment to Internal Mobility means ensuring the processes are in place, simple to follow and well communicated.

9.       Invest in mentoring and coaching

Mentoring and coaching has a significant positive impact on businesses and is increasingly common in organisations. Employees involved in mentoring programmes are more likely to feel engaged and valued, while businesses offering such programmes retain their best talent and develop new leaders. One study by Deloitte found that millennials who want to stay with a business for at least five years are twice as likely to have a mentor than not.

10.   Spend time on succession planning

A study cited by the CIPHR found that although 92% of respondents thought it was risky not to have a succession plan for key employees, only 25% felt they had identified the right candidates for the positions. Less than half had a formal process for developing these candidates. Internal Mobility feeds into accurate Succession Planning, helping businesses identify potential successors and empowering them to develop skills that will lead them to their next role

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