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from potential to promise: the power of internal talent mobility.

As the world of work continues to shift, we’re all seeing constant change in the talent landscape for employers and employees alike

As the world of work continues to shift, we’re all seeing constant change in the talent landscape for employers and employees alike

One constant is that employers are more focused than ever on building an engaged, connected and agile workforce, balanced with the challenge of employees demanding more from work. This has become more prevalent with six generations in the workforce that all have a very different relationship with work and their employer.

This is where the much talked about shift of organizations moving to a skills-based approach enters the room. Although this is not new to the world of talent, it has generated a lot of air time and investment from leaders trying to navigate the journey. And as many organizations can attest, making the shift isn’t easy.

One of the most challenging aspects of moving to a skills-based model is finding talent with the most in-demand skills — from AI, cloud computing and data science to customer service, finance and accounting, and marketing. What do you do to find such talent when they’re harder to find than ever? Increasing compensation, hiring talent in other parts of the country or world, or expanding hybrid or remote options are a start, but might not be sustainable long-term.

A better way is to focus on developing the skills of existing talent so they can grow and assume new roles internally. In today’s rapidly changing talent landscape — and with the need to evolve the workforce to keep up with future demands — this strategy is becoming a top priority for many companies.

If you’re not focused on internal talent mobility, think about what you’re missing out on: minimizing recruiting costs, reducing layoffs of people whose skills are no longer needed, increasing engagement and retention, and, ultimately, elevating the employee experience. Most importantly, you create an environment in which people are encouraged to not only keep their skills relevant to the organization, but to the shifting demands of the global landscape.

6 steps to elevate your internal mobility strategy

To do internal mobility right, your program should focus not just on how talent can meet the company’s needs, but more importantly, your employees’ own personal and professional goals and career aspirations. Businesses can prioritize internal mobility as a way to future-proof themselves and their people through enhanced skills development. After all, most workers consider training and development important to their current and future jobs, and many would quit a job if they don’t see the chance to move up.

Fortunately, more employers recognize this desire among talent to grow, and most HR leaders say the role of talent acquisition has expanded to include talent mobility, career pathways and skilling. They also say they’re investing more in reskilling programs and internal mobility programs. While that’s certainly encouraging, implementing these intentions on a large-scale, organization-wide basis is no small task.

To ensure your organization fosters a strong and successful internal mobility plan, and reaps the promise of human potential, consider these six ways to move your initiatives forward today.

1. build a culture of growth and development

Cultivating a supportive organizational culture that values and encourages internal mobility is essential. Leadership buy-in plays a crucial role in driving this cultural shift. When leaders are not just encouraged to actively promote internal mobility, but recognized and rewarded for it, employees feel empowered to pursue new roles and experiences within the organization.

Additionally, providing resources and support for career development initiatives reinforces this culture of mobility. This needs to be underpinned through clear performance metrics and criteria for career progression, and by providing feedback and recognition to employees who demonstrate potential and contribute significantly. The result is a culture of ownership, growth and performance where promotions and career advancement are based on merit and achievement rather than solely on tenure.

A key component to building a culture of growth to drive mobility is ensuring clear and transparent communication to your employees regarding internal jobs, gigs, secondments and opportunities to support projects and programs to gain and build new skills. Such transparency fosters trust and encourages employees to explore internal opportunities confidently.

2. find the balance of skills and aspirations

One of the most important aspects about internal mobility planning is viewing your program as more than just promotions and filling open roles. Instead, it’s about elevating the entire team’s skills and abilities and mobilizing them in ways that meet employee goals as well as the organization’s needs. After all, most executives say skills are important in defining work, deploying talent, managing careers and valuing employees.

When viewed through such a prism, it’s easy to see why more businesses are striving to become skills-based organizations, where skills and human capabilities are the main focus of talent strategies. When focusing on the in-demand skills your organization needs, and how you can prepare your people to learn them, you foster a culture where everyone is encouraged to grow, develop and reach their true potential.

The benefits of making the transition are clear, especially when it comes to internal mobility. Skills-based organizations are 107% more likely to place talent effectively. They’re also 98% more likely to have a reputation as a place to grow and develop, and 98% more likely to retain high performers.

Such advantages can be achieved by investing in employee development programs that focus on building skills relevant to different roles within the organization. Additionally, offering training, workshops, career coaching and mentorship programs will help employees acquire new skills and prepare for new opportunities within your organization.

But to deliver on this, it’s essential to understand the skills already in your organization, the skills you need, and how current talent can be developed to gain those skills. This can be very different for each organization, depending on size, geography and sector as specific clusters of some skills may different. However, one reason is that understanding skills in isolation without understanding the individual's aspirations will not enable you to maximize the movement of talent.

3. focus on more than just the technology

Talent management and marketplace technologies are advancing at a significant pace as organizations harness learning tech to support talent strategy. The key is finding the balance between tech and human to create employee experiences that engage, connect and excite employees about exploring and securing new internal opportunities.

Everyone at all levels can benefit from coaching, but for too long, it’s typically been limited to the C-suite. It’s time to change that by making career coaching available to all employees who are looking to evolve their internal careers. Through dedicated one-on-one coaching, talent benefits from guidance and support to identify their career interests, assess their skills and understand their strengths. This gives talent the chance to benefit from personalized attention that helps their careers and gives them the confidence they need to achieve their goals — and gain new skills.

How effective can coaching be on internal mobility? A study found that 99% of employers see coaching as having a positive or very positive impact on the wider business. At the same time, offering coaching to all shows your people that the company cares about them, further adding to retention and engagement, and long-term success with the company.

Overall, coaching is an essential aspect of internal mobility, helping people gain clarity and navigate the land of internal mobility, while better understanding where they want to go and how they can gain the skills to get there. Coaching also underpins everything else, including an overall culture of learning. Additionally, a robust coaching program fosters employee engagement, and engaged employees are more likely to want to build a career internally.

4. mobility, redeployment and career transition

During unfortunate periods of downsizing, companies may often have to lose promising talent. But focusing on internal mobility and aligning to your redeployment and career transition program can help minimize those losses.

The use of such programs is growing, as 40% of employers expect their organization will offer more redeployment opportunities over the next 12 months. Moreover, nearly all companies that have such programs — which typically include services like upskilling and reskilling, career coaching and peer-to-peer mentoring — say they are effective. Meanwhile, more than a third of talent leaders expect career mobility and redeployment strategies to have a greater influence on their business this year.

A focus on mobility via redeployment can also contribute to workforce agility. Empowering people with the skills the company needs today, or anticipates for the future, will help companies avoid competing externally to find talent with in-demand skills, while reducing the need for layoffs and the residual internal and external impacts they can have on business performance.

5. incorporate mobility into workforce planning

Identifying the skills your organization needs is one thing; ensuring the right people are in place to gain those skills effectively is another. That’s why internal mobility is inextricably linked to workforce planning. By understanding the core competencies and potential of internal talent, and the skills needed in the future, you can develop the pipelines to ensure current talent receive the support to empower them to achieve those skills.

To do it right, it’s crucial to understand what employees want to do, and how to help them get there. In fact, 94% of recruiting professionals agree that understanding skills availability and gaps is necessary to make informed talent decisions. And, to make it even easier, 78% of employers believe AI can help.

Such a strategy is contingent on the ability to link the skills you have, each team member’s potential and the skills your company needs. Once this has been captured and you have identified the gap between skills you have today, and the skills you need for tomorrow, you can link workforce planning to talent mobility and learning to build a connected, engaged and agile workforce.

6. unlock the power of motivation

Once you understand the skills you need, how can you drive top performance from talent and ensure they can continually learn those skills? That’s where the basic human trait of motivation comes into play to create an agile workforce. When motivated to explore career options and the different paths available to them, talent will often be more eager to upskill and do better in their current roles.

While motivation is the force that drives someone to act, it is fed by an overarching goal, or aspiration, that ties into their hopes and dreams. By tapping into an individual’s motivations and professional aspirations, and providing the tools and support to achieve them, you’re essentially unlocking their potential. As a result, by learning something new, or building on their existing abilities, it empowers them to grow, develop and be proud of what they do.

That’s why motivation is essential to creating a productive workforce of dedicated people who put in more discretionary effort to advance their own careers and the company’s objectives. This also helps with long-term retention. Workers who have moved internally have a 64% chance of remaining with an organization after three years. Meanwhile, employees who haven’t moved internally only show a 45% chance of remaining after three years.

prioritizing talent mobility to drive performance

As the skills companies need continually change, and the most in-demand skills typically see the highest competition, one thing is clear. Adopting a comprehensive mobility strategy is crucial to avoid the costs, time and hassle of competing to get talent with those skills.

Not only does this foster engagement and retention, but it also prepares the company for whatever challenges lie ahead. By developing current talent to meet new and changing needs, through up-skilling, reskilling and coaching, you take the lead in future-proofing your company, while elevating performance across the board.

When internal talent mobility is viewed — and leveraged — as a powerful and effective way to elevate the skills, capabilities and value of the entire team, everyone wins.

continue your learning

Dive into the latest Randstad Enterprise Global In-demand Skills research to see current global skills supply and demand.

Find out how employers are implementing internal talent mobility strategies at their organizations in the Randstad Enterprise 2024 Talent Trends Report.