Internal Experts
February 4, 2021

Why You Should Prioritize Internal Mobility in 2021

With the pandemic, many companies are looking to internal hiring to fill their skills gaps. We’ve even seen companies go without external hiring all together with the implementation of hiring freezes. Although this poses as a challenge to organizations, it can also serve as an opportunity to evaluate your organization’s capacity for internal mobility.

What is internal mobility?

You might think internal mobility is just a way to fill vacant roles, but it can actually be a valuable strategy to keep your organization nimble, adaptable, and collaborative. It encompasses the advancement of employees to new, internal opportunities – both vertically and horizontally. And it ultimately speaks more closely to how employees want to advance in companies today. This Visier article describes it well: “Internal mobility is not synonymous with promotion opportunities. But modern careers are more like jungle gyms than ladders, with the right vertical and lateral moves contributing to advancement over time.”

Employees are increasingly interested in upskilling and reskilling within an organization. Although an argument against internal hiring is that reskilling (learning new skills for a different job function) and upskilling (learning new skills within the same job function) employees is more work than it’s worth, we’re actually seeing an uptick in upskilling/reskilling. According to Linkedin’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report, 51% of learning and development (L&D) pros plan to launch upskilling programs this year and 43% plan to launch reskilling programs.

Source: Linkedin 2020 Workplace Learning Report

When internal mobility is an essential part of your recruiting and talent development strategy, it can help you hire better, develop and retain your talent, and build a culture of skill-sharing. The value of an internal hire is tremendous. In fact, internal hiring is deemed 6x more effective than external hiring. For one, internal hires have already demonstrated culture fit and possess the knowledge and experience that comes with tenure. And they even perform better! Internal hires have been found to perform 35% better than external hires. Read on for some main benefits of internal mobility.

Benefits of prioritizing internal mobility

Better employee engagement

Prioritizing internal mobility is a tangible way to show current and potential employees that there is career development opportunity within your organization. According to Linkedin’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. So, learning and development can’t be taken lightly when factoring in employee engagement and retention. Employees need to know that it’s not only possible to move vertically/horizontally within an organization, but should be encouraged and supported when internal opportunities arise. When cross-functional transition happens, it strengthens interactions between internal departments and demonstrates a commitment to growth as employees envision their career path within the organization. Even more significantly, observing real people transition, grow, and become role models within the organization gives others confidence that this can become a reality for them too. Investing in your peoples’ career ambitions and futures will keep employees engaged.

More diverse and inclusive teams

Focusing on internal mobility can also serve as a medium for your organization to evaluate its DE&I efforts. Although you may have equal representation levels generally across your organization, it’s important to look at representation specifically in leadership positions. When doing this evaluation, often representation of people of color across gender decreases significantly as career levels rise. So, keep track of how underrepresented employees are advancing within your organization and if they are taking advantage of internal opportunities. Doing this will play a part in ensuring that your organization is promoting equity across all leadership levels.  

Improved skills-sharing

Finally, internal mobility allows for improved cross-collaboration and skills-sharing. When you have a process in place to evaluate and recruit internal talent, it requires your talent team to keep better track of the skills that your people have and will give your people more opportunities to upskill and reskill. And even more importantly, internal mobility allows you to identify the skills gaps that exist in your organization. According to the 2019 PWC CEO Survey, “79% of CEOs worldwide are concerned that a lack of essential skills in their workforce is threatening the future growth of their organization.” So, keeping a pulse on the skills that your workforce does and does not have is imperative and will also allow your organization to reserve resources that would have been used on external hiring.

Make your skills visible

A key component of all of the above benefits is that they require you to have a clear picture of the skills and competencies that your people have. What skill sets do your people have, and how are they currently fitting into your organization? Without visibility of this, you may let valuable internal talent fly under the radar, underutilize highly skilled employees, and/or leave skills gaps unfilled. So, take a pulse on how much visibility you have on your peoples’ skills, and if your answer is little to none, then that needs to change.

Hear from one HR professional on how she used Sift to find an internal candidate with a background in economics and experience in database management. Long story short, she not only found the candidate she also saved her team’s time and resources.

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