Co-founder & CEO Paddle HR
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Talent management: the internal mobility metrics you should be tracking

The war for talent rages on, but what if the solution to your recruitment conundrum lies within your existing workforce? As the saying goes, ‘what gets measured gets done’ – so finding useful ways to track how well your business is retaining talent is crucial to success here. 

30th Jan 2020
Co-founder & CEO Paddle HR
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recruitment puzzle concept image of a person being slotted into a puzzle
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Talent teams worldwide are starting to realise that their greatest source of talent is already inside their organisations. In today’s competitive talent market, internal mobility opportunities within companies are becoming more of an expectation than a perk for employees.

Unfortunately, many HR professionals don’t know if what they’re doing is working. In fact, just 30% of HR professionals feel that their organisation has the ability to meet their talent mobility goals.

We believe that being a good career coach should be a part of any manager’s job. A manager that has great feedback and a great track record of mentoring employees that are able to move internally should be rewarded.

In order to improve internal mobility, HR professionals need the right key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of their programmes. Without the right KPIs, there’s no way that senior leaders can understand whether their internal mobility efforts are having the desired impact on employee development or retention.

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of internal mobility efforts, success metrics fall into four categories:

1. Percentage of positions filled internally

If your organisation can only keep track of one KPI, this should be it. This percentage shows the broader efficacy of your internal mobility programmes. The more people that are applying for internal roles, the better. Of course, this single metric alone doesn’t tell the full story of high performing internal mobility practices. HR teams and business leaders need to dive deeper and look at the context of this ratio. A few ways to dig deeper could include:

  • Comparing this number across departments: if your company’s percentage of positions filled internally is 50%, that looks good from a global perspective – but what if the bulk of those internal hires are coming from just one department? That shows that internal mobility may not be widely adopted across the company.
     
  • Comparing the source/origin of internal hires: did the majority of the internal applicants come through peer referrals, or were they referred by to positions by managers? Looking into this will show you who in the organisation is most supportive of your internal mobility efforts, and where improvements could be made. If this percentage is low, consider incentivising internal referral hires through rewards, such as bonuses or extra holiday days.

2.  Manager-related internal mobility metrics

For internal mobility to be successful at a company, employees need to feel comfortable talking about their career goals with their managers. Unfortunately, managers aren’t always natural career coaches. Every company will measure this differently, but one way to gauge a managers’ ability to promote internal mobility is looking at their history.

In the past, the main way to achieve a title change or move internally was to get promoted. As organisational structures have flattened, however, there now are a lot more lateral moves. 

It’s important to see where a manager’s direct reports advance within the company. Look for trends tied to internal moves. If there is one manager who consistently has employees who are getting promoted or moving laterally within the company, reward them. If there’s another manager who consistently has employees leave after short tenures, that might be something to take a look at.

We believe that being a good career coach should be a part of any manager’s job. A manager that has great feedback and a great track record of mentoring employees that are able to move internally should be rewarded.

3. Metrics around the ‘nature of mobility’

In the past, the main way to achieve a title change or move internally was to get promoted. As organisational structures have flattened, however, there now are a lot more lateral moves. We recommend categorising all internal moves into the following three categories and calculating the percentage (moves may fall into multiple categories, so keep in mind percentages can add up to more than 100%).

  • Promotion: while this bucket is diminishing, this still makes up a huge part of job changes – a change in seniority.
     
  • Job function change: according to a LinkedIn executive, the average person in today’s economy could have up to 15 jobs within their lifetime. While this could be a generous estimate, the point is that your employees are not likely to stay in the same role for their entire career. An example would be a UX designer deciding to become a programmer: it’s not necessarily a promotion, but a meaningful opportunity for professional growth and versatility.
     
  • Business unit change: for people looking to stay in the same ‘role’, but looking for something new, they could move business units as opposed to job functions. For example, a salesperson for a telecoms company could go from selling cell phone plans to consumers, to a role where they sell enterprise contracts. You may also want to look into geographies or other types of changes, depending on the nature of your business.

4. Diversity and inclusion ratios

As mentioned previously, it is important to provide employees with meaningful opportunities for growth, but there are a limited number of promotions available. With ‘unfairness-based turnover’ being a $16 billion a year problem (i.e. people leaving positions because of unfair treatment), according to the Kapor Center for Social Impact, it’s critically important to ensure your internal mobility practices promote equal and fair opportunities for all. These metrics fall into the following categories:

  • Representation: what percentage of internal hires are being represented by minority groups?
     
  • ‘Nature of mobility’ versus. D&I: how does the ‘nature of mobility’ differ across different demographic groups? For instance, are white men disproportionately getting more promotions?

In short, your diversity and inclusion metrics should compliment your other HR policies. With all of these metrics, you must assign responsibility and establish accountability for monitoring every strategy implemented. Then, analyse and track the results to ensure progress is being made. The most impact will be felt if you not only measure results but also report them to managers, employees and other stakeholders involved for maximum transparency.

A good internal mobility programme can be an organisation’s secret weapon to employee retention, but it can be challenging to quantify success with people initiatives, and internal mobility programmes are no exception.

Interested in this topic? Read Employee engagement: how HR leaders can restore employees’ faith in career opportunities.

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