HR Insights
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April 20, 2023

Beyond the buzzwords: The internal mobility talent strategy

An internal mobility talent strategy can give workers the flexible careers they want while also fostering higher organizational performance and productivity. Somen Mondal, Ceridian’s General Manager of Talent Intelligence, explains how employers can eliminate the barriers to internal mobility.

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One of the latest HR buzzwords to emerge is “quiet hiring,” which Gartner defines as an organization acquiring new skills without hiring new full-time employees. For some organizations, quiet hiring could focus on using qualified, on-demand workers. But for others, it could involve an internal mobility talent strategy.  

For organizations that choose the internal mobility path, Ceridian’s 2023 Pulse of Talent survey shows that many workers today want to be part of that journey. Forty-five percent of our 8,800 respondents from around the globe said access to opportunities outside of their current position would make them more loyal to their employer.

But internal mobility isn’t common – 80% of the role moves examined in a recent McKinsey data sample involved respondents moving to a new employer. So, we asked Somen Mondal, General Manager of Talent Intelligence at Ceridian, to share his insights on our Pulse of Talent data and how employers can break down the barriers to internal mobility.

In our survey findings, we see there are challenges to internal mobility at the most basic level – employees often don’t know where to find open roles in their organization. What can employers do to fix this?

This is a significant barrier to internal mobility. Nearly half (47%) of our Pulse of Talent respondents said it was difficult for them to find out about open roles in their organization that might suit them. The number rises to 58% among workers 18-24 years old. This is likely due to more tenured workers having more internal relationships to surface these roles. But it also reveals an opportunity for employers as new generations come into the workplace.

Many organizations post open roles to their internal job boards and assume employees will find them if they’re interested in applying. But our data shows this is often not the case. A better solution is investing in technology that can alert employees to open roles based on their skills and interests, removing a major barrier to career mobility for employees and helping to ensure equitable access to internal roles.

We know that employees' career experiences are heavily dependent on their managers. How can employers help their middle managers be more accepting of and encourage internal mobility?

It starts with creating a workplace culture where employees at all levels are encouraged to pursue a career path that is best suited to their skills and interests. When you have that kind of culture, internal mobility really becomes a natural and accepted part of the workplace landscape.

Shifting the middle-manager mindset is an important part of building this kind of culture. Initially, managers may be resistant to losing high performers on their team. But employers can help middle managers understand the benefits of internal mobility, such as the cost savings versus an external hire, the value of retaining organizational knowledge, and increased learning and innovation throughout the organization.

In our Pulse of Talent survey, just over half of respondents (53%) said if they found a different role in their organization, their manager would support them moving into that role. Thirty-three percent were unsure, and 14% said their manager would not support such a move.

The level of support from managers should be 100%. This further proves why we must shift the middle-manager mindset. We must replace the traditional view of talent belonging to a team with the idea that talent belongs to the entire organization.

Internal mobility can mean so much more than simply changing roles within a company. What other options should employers consider?

Internal mobility should be about career growth, expansion, and even experimentation. In addition to making it easier for employees to move into new roles in different departments or teams within the organization, employers should consider project opportunities, job shadowing, and job rotations as part of their internal mobility strategy.

Our research shows that workers are interested in these opportunities. When asked what internal career opportunities appeal to them, the top answer (at 49%) from our Pulse of Talent respondents was contributing their skills to new projects from within their current role. Thirty-one percent were interested in shadowing other employees to learn about their roles, and 25% said they wanted to split time between roles.

How can employers create the foundation to support internal mobility? And why is it in their own best interest?

Technology is the foundation for internal mobility. We’ve all become so accustomed to technology making recommendations for us — like what to watch on Netflix and what to buy from Amazon — that we almost expect this intel now.  

Talent technology like Ceridian’s forthcoming Career Explorer allows employers to take the guesswork out of career development and empowers employees with data-driven recommendations on jobs and skills that would help them advance in their career. This is a huge retention mechanism for organizations. In our Pulse of Talent survey, 88% of flight-risk respondents said they would consider staying with their current employer if they were given internal career opportunities.

So, we see that employers should care about internal mobility because it matters to their employees. But it also matters to their business. Creating opportunities for internal mobility allows organizations to adapt more efficiently to changing market conditions because they don’t need to source, hire, and onboard new external talent that isn’t familiar with the business. Internal mobility can also increase organizational productivity and performance by ensuring the right talent is in the right place at the right time.

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