Recruiting, Talent

Building a Sustainable Internal Mobility Ecosystem in 2020

Remote work, telecommuting, the gig economy, mobile workforces—today’s workplace is almost unrecognizable from what it was even a decade ago. To serve as an effective business partner in this era, HR professionals must not only understand how the workplace is evolving but also anticipate changing business objectives and keep up with geopolitical events, societal changes, and technological advances.


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As we approach a new year and decade, internal talent fluidity will become an important element of successful talent management. It’s a natural expansion of the definition of mobility, which has evolved over the years to include the use of mobile devices and platforms to conduct business and collaborate and to facilitate the flow of talent where it’s needed most, regardless of location.

In an era of fierce competition for top talent—a time when business cycles have accelerated—the free flow of talent is more critical than ever to company success. Agility requires internal talent fluidity in roles, skills, projects, and regions. Think of it as the new frontier in the competition for talent.

Improving the Employee Experience and Business Value with Internal Mobility

As organizational charts become flatter and collaboration more critical, companies need an internal mobility ecosystem that works from the bottom up and also from side to side. Employees have more choices than ever, and they may not envision their careers unfolding in the traditional linear fashion. The path to success is more like a constellation of possibilities.

That means organizations want to attract and retain the most knowledgeable and creative team members. They have to rethink what they offer to keep up with changing values, which is why there’s so much emphasis now on the employee experience. But talent managers also need to find a way to maintain a network of internal talent that the company can connect with as the need arises.

Combining the two tasks through internal mobility is the way forward. Employees are looking for new experiences, including the opportunity to work remotely, tackle new types of projects, and even work abroad. It may be more beneficial to develop a strategy for internal movement than to train employees for one position in one location and then have them take their knowledge and talent elsewhere.

Creating a Successful Internal Mobility Strategy

Employees who are currently on the job may have already proven their worth and demonstrated core competencies. Why not consider expanding the company’s talent pool via an internal mobility program that enables the free flow of existing talent? Making it possible for employees to move to other jobs, projects, regions, or even countries immediately increases internal talent assets.

Creating a successful internal mobility strategy requires rethinking the bottom-up structure of many career development programs. In fact, it often requires rethinking the entire organization—moving away from a traditional structure that defines career progression in hierarchical terms and toward a network that facilitates bottom-up and lateral moves that enhance the employee experience.

One simple way to start improving internal mobility is to communicate open positions internally before advertising them outside the company. This allows employees to apply for jobs that interest them without leaving the organization to seek new opportunities, and an incentive for managers to look for talent in their own teams before looking outside is a great way to reinforce the concept.

Another consideration to strengthen internal mobility is to offer employees more training and educational opportunities as new skills needs arise, including tuition reimbursement. This approach fulfills the organization’s requirement for new skills while letting employees know they can explore new career paths without leaving.

Regardless of how economic and geopolitical factors play out in 2020, company success will hinge largely on gaining skilled employees. Employee mobility in all its forms will play a role, as will the ability to offer a consistently great employee experience. In the coming decade, the two concepts will likely merge, and internal talent fluidity may expand the definition of employee mobility once again.

Edward HannibalWorldwide ERC Chairman Edward Hannibal is an advisor and a leader of mobility and talent transformation projects around the globe, as well as a Tax Principal in Deloitte Tax LLP’s Global Employer Services practice. His views are his own and do not reflect those of Deloitte Tax LLP.

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