Being an HR manager in the past was more accessible than today. People would work at the same company thought their lives without giving much thought to changing careers. It was the era of limited possibilities, let alone work from home, freelancing, and getting visibility through job sites and online CVs.
Today, people can choose from a massive pool of employers. Switching careers and companies every 3-4 years is becoming the norm. Otherwise, employees risk reaching a plateau in their professional development, getting underpaid, and failing to learn new skills.
What should employers do to prevent high turnover rates and empower their workforce with decent opportunities for professional growth? Talent mobility is the answer.
Let’s deep dive into the talent mobility concept, its benefits for talent development, and implementation tips.
What is talent mobility?
The talent mobility term is often confused with internal mobility. There’s a slight difference: internal mobility is an organization’s ability to move people from role to role. Talent mobility means a transfer of an employee from one position to another within the organization when a suitable vacancy occurs. It’s important to keep the internal mobility rate high, so you can quickly fill in positions with in-house talents and save costs on external hiring, onboarding, talent development, and training.
HR managers distinguish several types of talent mobility programs:
- Vertical – when you transfer an employee to a higher position (for example, to a managerial role).
- Horizontal – when you move an employee within their functional area, expanding their responsibilities and areas of control.
- Cross-functional – when you transfer an employee to another department, a business unit, or a totally different role.
Talent mobility has nothing to do with relocation, however, you can transfer your employees to foreign branches within a talent mobility program.
Benefits of talent mobility programs
A well-designed talent mobility program is a win-win for both employers and employees. It creates a healthy sense of competition, boosts employee retention and talent development, helps decrease recruitment costs, and more.
1. No career boundaries
When employees join a company with a high internal mobility rate and available talent mobility programs, they know for sure that they can switch career paths, teams, and even branches freely. Thus, they feel confident about their choice. As a result, candidates accept job offers more willingly and tend to stay with a company for a longer time.
2. Employee empowerment
Talent mobility is versatile. People can switch job roles, business divisions, departments, and teams. Moreover, they can even accept a reduction in their position with a further promotion after training and hands-on experience within a role.
Even when employees don’t participate in talent mobility program, they still get a chance to boost their expertise and leadership skills while mentoring and onboarding their colleagues.
3. Cost saving
Internal hiring can boast a significant hire rate. Studies show that internal hiring has an impressive 22% conversion rate, while referrals and sourced candidates have only 6% and 1,1% conversion rates accordingly.
There are a couple of reasons why internal hiring is cost-efficient. First, your talent pool is full of informed and loyal candidates that are aware of corporate culture, business processes, etc. Second, you don’t need to invest much time and money in candidate sourcing, onboarding, and training when hiring externally. Finally, internal hiring with the help of talent mobility programs is faster because you have candidate’s data like track records at hand and have already pre-screened a candidate for a culture fit. Besides, candidates often require little onboarding to start a new role, especially if they’ve been transferred within a department or a team.
Common challenges in implementing a talent mobility program
Despite all the tangible benefits of talent mobility programs, not all organizations manage to implement them smoothly.
One of the common bottlenecks lies in resistance from top management. The thing is, managers and team leaders simply don’t want to let go of their best talents, so they impede the transfer of their employees and intentionally undermine talent development. The survey shows that up to 50% of organizations consider lack of leadership support as their main concern in implementing talent mobility programs.
Another common issue is the lack of transparency and guidelines. It’s vital to set the formal rules and conditions for participation in a talent mobility program, so employees could find answers to common questions like:
Do you keep employees’ wages when transferring them to a position that is lower than their current one?
How much notice should employees give when transferring to a new role?
What track record within a company is required to qualify for a mobility program?
Talent mobility programs: best practices
A strong talent mobility culture helps organizations eliminate bias, inform the leadership of talent mobility importance and benefits, and keep employees posted on the latest career opportunities. To develop a mobility culture, consider our tips below:
Build a talent marketplace
Talent marketplace, or an internal mobility platform, is a technology-enabled platform that enables you to gather employee data (skills, qualifications, etc.), analyze and identify skill gaps, and connect employees with relevant vacancies. A key idea of a talent marketplace is to match the right skillsets with the right rather than trying to match people with vacancies.
Talent marketplace platforms allow employees to manage their careers proactively: detect skills they lack for a promotion or a transfer, get training recommendations, and find vacancies that perfectly match their qualifications.
Raise awareness among employees and leadership
If you don’t get much support from leadership and other employees, you’re less likely to succeed with your talent mobility program.
That’s why recruiters and hiring managers introduce targets, metrics, and KPIs to improve their internal hiring rates. They also identify qualifications and skills required for the most suitable candidates, even if jobs aren’t available yet.
Employee resources groups are a great way to spread the word about your talent mobility system and spot ambitious employees that’ll set a positive example and lead the way.
Home Depot, an American home improvement retailer, is a bright example of a talent mobility trailblazer. The company encourages its employees to pursue their career goals within a company, whether it’s horizontal or vertical growth. To facilitate this process, the company evaluates its executives and managers’ ability to promote internal candidates, so they actively participate as customers and sponsors of the process.
Home Depot also employ storytelling to share their leaders’ stories. For example, Hila Roberts, a Senior Director of Retail Media, changed 13 roles within 14 years at Home Depot. Hila says that Home Depot’s culture of helping associates and leveraging employees’ backgrounds advances the adoption of talent mobility programs.
Step in your employee’s shoes to see a broad picture, for example, bias and judgment among colleagues. Job search outside the company implies that a seeker isn’t limited by factors like wages, a position they’re applying for, and employment status. On the contrary, all these factors may deteriorate a candidate’s chances to get a new job within a company.
To combat bias and “labeling” candidates, hiring managers adopt a skills-based hiring approach. In a nutshell, this hiring method focuses on matching skills with tasks rather than the candidate’s track records, working experience, formal education, etc.
Skills-based hiring requires maximum transparency of available skills within an organization and skill gaps to enable internal hiring within the shortest time possible. That’s the point of a talent mobility program: to achieve transparency of skills and pull out suitable candidates from an internal talent marketplace whenever you need them.
Get more tips in our article with five best practices of talent mobility program implementation.
Talent development made easy
A robust talent mobility culture helps organizations cope with the constantly changing business environment, save recruiting costs, empower employees with versatile career paths, and become attractive for potential candidates. Undoubtedly, talent mobility programs have great potential.
If you don’t want to lag behind your competitors, it’s time to build your internal talent marketplace and improve internal hiring rates. Our smartPeople is a perfect tool for the internal marketplace, skills matching, and further workforce upskilling. Check out smartPeople or get a free demo from our team.