Hiring & Recruiting, Strategic HR, Training

How to Improve Internal Mobility

Internal mobility refers to employee movement through different roles within the same organization. It can be related to employee development—as an employee progresses along his or her development path, they move to new roles accordingly.

Internal mobility can be important for employers because it represents a key way to retain employees. If employees feel they have internal options for career progression, they’ll be less likely to start job searching elsewhere. This can be particularly relevant for top talent.

Here are several other reasons internal mobility is important for employers:

  • It can reduce recruiting costs overall. When internal candidates are utilized to fill higher positions, external recruiting can focus more on lower level positions, which are often easier – and thus less administratively expensive – to fill.
  • It can improve employee morale and retention. If the employer is seen as one that cares about employee development, employees are more likely to be satisfied and to stay.
  • It can help in recruitment. If the employer is seen as one that is good for long-term career prospects, it could mean better quality applicants.

How to Improve Internal Mobility

Here are a few ways employers can influence internal mobility for employees:

  • Ensure the workplace culture supports it. Work with everyone involved in the hiring process at all levels. Ensure that the organization values current employees and has plans in place to allow employees to progress to new roles.
  • Create career paths for employees. Have specific steps employees can take to transition into new roles and take on new responsibilities. Allow employees some control in their progression, such as allowing self-directed training.
  • Offer training for employees. Giving employees the skills needed will help them to move into new roles; try to ensure that the training is aligned with employee career progression needs. You can also use training to fill skills gaps the organization has identified. Yet another way to utilize training is to cross-train employees so they’re able to perform more than one role in the organization, even before they change to a new position.
  • Train managers to not fear losing employees. Some managers can actually be a roadblock to employee mobility when they inadvertently hold back talented employees. Often this happens not because they don’t think the employee would be good for a new role, but because they don’t want to lose the individual.
  • Consider having a mentoring program. Mentoring can help employees can support one another. This can help employees build skills. It can also lead to employees recommending one another for advancement opportunities.
  • Always consider future potential. When hiring, look at the applicant’s potential beyond the role they’ve applied for.
  • Use technology to assess the internal talent landscape. Consider implementing an HRIS in which employees can outline skills and talents that may not be obvious in their given roles; use this as part of the talent database when searching for potential internal candidates for a role. Have an avenue where employees can make their long-term preferences known.
  • Encourage everyone in the hiring process to look to internal candidates first. This could include posting job openings internally before posting them externally. If appropriate, consider mandating that jobs look internally first or that each role considers several internal candidates.
  • Use succession planning. Create succession plans not just for the top roles, but for other roles as well to ease managerial anxiety over losing a good employee.
  • Set goals for internal mobility and measure progress. By setting goals you create a situation in which people actively work toward achieving them.
  • Highlight “high potential” talent. Consider creating programs to discover and highlight employees who have the potential to be developed into roles with greater responsibility. Once identified, consider creating training and other programs to assist directly in the development of these high potential employees. Another option is to consider creating a program specifically for hiring high potential employees and progressing them quickly along the career path. This can help to create the culture of internal mobility.
  • Don’t discount lateral moves. Give employees new roles, even if the new role does not represent an upward career progression. Consider lateral moves for employees to boost skill levels.
  • Ask employees what they want in terms of mobility. Using employee engagement surveys is one way to find out employee opinions.

What other ideas have you tried to influence internal mobility in your organization? What has been the most successful for you?