Blog Post

    Internal mobility and how to retain your employees amidst the Great Resignation

    Internal mobility is something of a hot-button issue in the world of People & Culture right now.

    In the face of the Great Resignation (or Turnover Tsunami as coined by some), HR departments all over the world are working harder than ever to retain their employees. Everything from remote and flexible working arrangements, to employee referral bonuses, salary bumps, and increased leave allowances are on the table in an attempt to combat this unprecedented mass exodus.

    The reasons behind the Great Resignation are complex and include wage stagnation, an ever-increasing cost of living, work-life balance, safety concerns born from the COVID-19 pandemic, and, according to 33% of SHRM survey respondents, career advancement opportunities.

    That’s where internal mobility comes in.


    Internal mobility defined

    Internal mobility is a company-wide strategy designed to source talent from within an organization’s existing employee network to fill vacant roles.

    Effective internal mobility practices are beneficial to both employers and employees alike.
    For employees, there is the opportunity to grow & develop their career within their existing organization, achieving new levels of professional confidence and traversing higher salary ranges in the process. Employers, on the other hand, can reduce the hefty price tag attached to senior recruitment drives and reap the benefits of higher long-term retention rates including increased employee engagement and productivity.

    Statistics for internal mobility don’t lie

    According to LinkedIn Learning, organizations with effective internal mobility practices are able to hold onto their employees almost twice as long as those without.

    In 2019, a Deloitte Insights survey revealed that internal mobility had become a C-suite-level topic with 76% of respondents rating it as ‘important’ and 20% as one of their organization's most pressing issues.

    And as recently as 2020, career progression was rated the top priority for millennials joining a new organization with 52% listing this as the main attraction in an employer.

    So, with all this in mind, you’d think internal mobility would be at the top of HR’s to-do list right?

    Well, no. Despite 46% of Learning & Development professionals seeing the upskilling and reskilling of employees as a top focus in 2022, most place internal mobility at the bottom of the barrel.

    Why HR isn’t focused on internal mobility

    Usually, an organization that has not honed its internal mobility strategy, is focused on recruitment to fill talent gaps. This attain-over-retain approach is usually down to one of a few reasons:

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    Historically rigid talent strategies

    Whilst internal mobility is not new, concrete strategy to grow and develop the practice is.

    Slow-moving organizations are often the last to hop on new people trends as they simply have so many internal puzzle pieces to maneuver in the process. Setting up a system to identify and develop existing talent within an ‘old-school’ organization is a lot of work, resulting in leaders relegating the task to the ‘too hard basket’.

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    Losing faith in long-term

    Many organizations have given in to the ‘millennial job hopping’ trend and no longer believe that holding on to their hires long-term is a viable people strategy.

    Unfortunately, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy as job hopping tends to be the result of an organization's lack of investment in an employee's future. By embracing the trend, employers are only perpetuating the cycle and will miss out on the opportunity to nurture powerful talent through an effective internal mobility strategy.

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    Reactive recruitment

    Recruitment is a reactive process. You see a gap, you hire to fill that gap. It’s not easy, but it is a little more clear-cut than internal mobility.

    Internal mobility requires HR to identify the potential of their people, sometimes before a role is even available. You’re helping people grow the skills they will need in the future, rather than hiring someone who already possesses those skills. This makes the process a little unpredictable and therefore, we perceive it to be riskier.

    Why internal mobility is worth the investment

    If you’re looking for a strategy to help you keep your head above water amidst the Great Resignation, focusing on internal mobility is your ticket.

    Firstly, it will impact long-term retention. According to SHRM, employees who received a promotion within the first three years of their tenure have a 70% chance of sticking around for an additional 5 years. And employees who make a lateral movement have a 62% chance.

    Secondly, it will save your organization valuable resources. Since implementing its internal mobility platform in 2015 that uses predictive analytics to identify potential internal candidates for open positions within the organization, IBM saved more than $100 million in recruitment-related expenses.

    Thirdly, it will boost employee engagement. LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report revealed that internal movers are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged with their organization than those who stay in their existing role.

    And finally, it will greatly reduce the drop in productivity associated with bringing on new hires. Reports vary, but on average it takes a new hire 5 to 8 months to become productive in a new role. For an internal mover familiar with your organizations existing culture, policies and tech stack, the learning curve is greatly diminished. Data backs this up with 69% of surveyed HR professionals agreeing that internal mobility accelerates productivity.


    So what next?_

    Hopefully, this article has helped to clarify your understanding of the importance of an effective internal mobility strategy. The benefits to both your people and your business are undeniable and long term you’re likely to see an enormous improvement in your retention.

    But we’re not done!

    Now it’s time to think about crossboarding. The process of settling an internal mover into their new role within the company. Think of it like onboarding with a twist. The two processes are similar, with a few key differences. To help you get to grips with effective crossboarding, take a look at our introductory guide…

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