Keeping Your Talent Engaged Throughout Their Careers Using Internal Mobility

There are several points in the year where people may consider a career move. Like after the holiday season when workers have had a chance to reflect on their current roles and how these align with their ambitions. Similarly, the period following major career events, such as finishing a qualification or stepping-up into new responsibilities. Even in current times, where many have been furloughed and have extra time to think.

Knowing why people move on. Every month, across the U.S. 3.5 million people leave their jobs voluntarily — for new roles, other companies, different industries, or leaving the workforce completely. With this, comes a loss of knowledge and experience, plus rising costs to attract, recruit and onboard replacements.

Most workers seek new opportunities and chances to develop throughout their careers. In order to retain workers, especially within business-critical roles, organizations need to focus on their Internal Mobility strategy.

Retaining valuable talent. The average cost to hire a new employee is $4,129 and it can take, on average, 42 days to fill a vacant position. By identifying the talent you have (and their skills and aspirations) and then by mobilizing them onto new projects and roles aligned with their skills and career goals — you can create a competitive advantage for your organization. Where you have a worker who is interested in a new opportunity, but who doesn’t have the required skills — offer them the learning resources needed to develop those required skills.

Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic offers a great example. The company encourages employees to be lifelong learning and to build their career paths based on exploration and growth. Managers work with their team to build new skills and experiences through learning resources and career opportunities. As a result, Mayo Clinic has a low turnover rate and many employees with 30-year tenures.

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Remember lateral moves. Improving your Internal Mobility strategy doesn’t always involve promoting people. Workers can be moved laterally into other business areas or mobilized onto other projects that align with their interests and ambitions. This can be equally as challenging as a step-up and works exceptionally well for people who have expressed an interest in other functions. Secondments, side projects, and stretch assignments are all viable ways to grow skills, build experience and eventually make the next move on the career ladder.

Amazon, for example, launched “Upskilling 2025” — a $700 million initiative for existing employees that combines learning resources with on-the-job learning and apprenticeships to build skills in machine learning and software engineering.

Lay the right foundations. A skills framework is essential to lay the foundations for your Internal Mobility strategy. This will tell you the skills your leadership and workers feel are existing in your current workforce and what’s needed in the future. It must be top-down and bottom-up to offer a comprehensive view. Start by defining what a skill is in your organization, in different business areas and teams.

Taking the next step. Use your business strategy to understand your existing skills, the skills your organisation needs and then implement your upskilling, Internal Mobility and learning programs based on your requirements now, and what you’ll need in the future. If workers can see the range of opportunities available to them across the business — they are more likely to understand the ‘why’ behind why they should upskill to fill the organisation’s need.

A Virtuous Cycle

In many ways, this is a continuous and virtuous cycle. Once someone moves to a new role or project, they can work on further learning and upskilling to reach the next stage in their career path. Once those skill requirements are met, they can be mobilized again.

Creating a career journey that fulfills each worker, that builds capabilities to help your organization and reduces the risk that they don’t leave because of a lack of promotion, learning or fulfillment.

Chris Milligan

Chris Milligan
Chris Milligan is CEO and founder of Adepto, a total talent platform.

Chris Milligan

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