Blog & News

The Time Has Come to Take Internal Mobility Seriously

Written By
Jeremy Vickerman
Content Producer

Internal mobility (IM) has never been so important. If IM was rising to prominence before the global lockdown, it has now been pushed into the spotlight as companies consolidate their resources and look inward to discover new talent. With many industries being affected, the implementation of hiring freezes have become commonplace with workload, in many cases, remaining the same.

It is fair also to acknowledge that digital transformation is being expedited across most industries during this time. Although incrementally prevalent before, through necessity, companies have had to equip their workforce with the tools to work remotely and adapt to this change in circumstances. This has only sharpened the focus on company culture, employee engagement, doing more with less and crucially reskilling the workforce. The need for agility has fueled the response to the crisis, adapting the business to incorporate more opportunities in the form of part time projects, gigs as opposed to just full time jobs. This is not a new concept, as we were moving in that direction before, the difference now is that the lockdown has forced our hand.

Internal Mobility Sparks the Age to Engage

Even though purse strings are being pulled due to reduced sales revenue, many organizations are recognizing the benefits of consolidating their workforce as opposed to turning straight to layoffs which research shows can have long-term detrimental effects on workforce morale and performance. There is a greater acceptance these days that a company is only as good as the sum of its parts so their ability to compete through and post crisis will primarily be dictated by the quality of their workforce. By focusing on wellness, engagement and productivity, employees are being empowered to maximize their potential and add value where possible. This is especially true for those whose workload has been adversely affected, with many being asked to put themselves forward to work on projects or tasks for other areas of the business that are under pressure.

As a result of this, new company models are being created not only to avoid redundancies but to reassure employees, whose current number one concern is job security, that they are planning to keep counting on them. By allowing employees to develop their skills and their careers, companies will benefit from increased employee engagement and in turn a positive effect on the bottom line.

The first step to implementing these strategies, is having the technology in place that can help you make the most of the existing skills and experience within the workforce. Ideally in the form of an internal mobility platform that sits at the heart of a comprehensive program that gives employees ownership of their careers, while giving them access and exposure to internal job roles, projects, tasks or secondments outside their immediate team.

Formalizing this strategy gives employees the confidence that the organization is ready to support their career with them and is more likely to keep them engaged. If this is not clearly communicated it is common for employees to want to quit or lose motivation due to lack of security or direction. According to a survey last year a third of employees who quit their jobs did so because they didn’t learn new skills and 77% of employees feeling they’re ‘on their own’ to develop their careers at their company. This also does not necessarily mean there are not opportunities for them within the organization, rather there is a lack of a program to allow them to find and apply to them. Although this might not be so prevalent under the current circumstances it still highlights the benefits of what a formalized program can have on engagement.

Let Internal Mobility Connect the Dots and Fill the Skills Gap

With many organizations currently operating with an almost entirely remote workforce, having a structure behind assessing and matching skills to opportunities has become a priority for making the most of your internal talent. To many, internal mobility is still seen as a lottery: subject to how many responses you get from a job post on your internal careers site. But Internal Mobility has moved on since then and is so much more than that.

IM should be seen as an internal opportunity marketplace. Not only a place where employees can drive their own career development but a vital tool for managers to really understand the talent they have within the company and to develop critical skills to survive or to adapt to a possible new business model. This increasingly has less emphasis on moving from one full-time role to another but more the dissemination of gigs or short-term projects across the business.

A successful strategy coordinates employees with programs, projects and other opportunities and the platform you use should be able to adapt to your business regardless of what those opportunities look like. It should also allow you to develop an innate knowledge of the skill competencies that exist across your organization and be backed up with transparent, timely and agile feedback for all employees to allow them to understand what skills they need to acquire to be eligible for the opportunities they want to take on.

The future of work will also fuel the focus on finding enduring skills. Abilities such as problem solving, reasoning, negotiation and the capacity to learn new skills will be required for all roles and will be seen as central to company cultures who understand that internal mobility is crucial to their ability to stay competitive. As the landscape is changing, job requirements are too, so it is only right that your HR platform should follow suit.

Internal Mobility the Key to Creating a Win-Win Situation

The benefits of internal mobility are seen on both sides of the fence, if employees win then the organization wins.

What employee wouldn’t want to work for an organization that supports their development? Equally what organization wouldn’t want to have an engaged workforce while reducing the costs that come with external hiring? With the cost of departing employees costing the business significant sums of money on lost productivity and the subsequent cost of recruiting, reducing voluntary turnover can have significant financial benefits.

There has also been a move away from the idea that a career is linear, which also works both ways. As an employee’s career ambitions may be much more complex, the same complexity can apply to the needs of an organization. Embracing the idea of career lattices as opposed to ladders and encouraging employees to develop sideways as much as upwards is fundamental to the notion of successful IM strategy and substantially expands the internal talent pool. This in turn leads to more opportunities in the company being fulfilled by existing employees, which is always a good thing whichever side of the fence you are on.

Now is the Time to Consolidate

In the current climate, the companies that are able to adapt quicker will be those who emerge with the strongest and most engaged workforce when things return to “normal”.

Organizations who have put their hiring on hold are now in a position to look inwards and make the most of what they have. Whether or not it has been the crisis that has acted as the catalyst to initiate the program, the benefits will out-last these times and create a foundation for future leaders to empower future talent. Implementing a solid IM program now will lay the foundations for companies to keep adapting and surviving if we are ever faced with a similar crisis in the future.

Invest in the technology, formalize the IM plan and start maximizing the workforce. Employees want to spread their wings as much as they always have and you need their skills. Now is the time to turn up the heat on internal mobility to not only brave the cold of hiring freezes but to create a foundation of talent that is ready to thrive in the workplace of the future.

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