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4 approaches to drive internal mobility and greater employee engagement.

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For the last two decades, employee engagement has been an important topic. It’s been shown to have an impact on organizational performance, productivity and staff morale. More recently, the focus has turned to employee experience, and fostering a culture of internal mobility is becoming an increasingly important factor in creating positive employee experiences that drive and maintain engagement.

Here are four examples from the real world of how leading companies are turning to internal mobility programs to generate more engaged employees.

Salesforce lets employees see managers' engagement scores

This is a level of transparency that would terrify some managers (and many employers). Like most major organizations, Salesforce surveys employees twice a year to find out how they feel about their jobs – but it’s the next step that gets unconventional. 

They then publish managers' scores to the whole organization. This isn't done to name and shame low-performing managers, but to find out what the best managers are doing and help employees identify if they'd rather join another team.

This level of transparency is a brave step, but one that clearly seems to be working. Salesforce has ranked in the top ten of Glassdoor's Best Places to Work for the last five years, and topped the list in 2021. Since launching their internal mobility program in 2018, Salesforce reports that employees have been staying at the company longer.

This is a great example of driving engagement through what’s been termed job crafting – where employees are given more autonomy to shape the work they do around things that interest them. This autonomy, which also gives employees the opportunity to learn something new or be challenged with work that adds to their skills and knowledge, is key to driving engagement, wellbeing and career development in the workplace.

related content: 5 benefits of prioritizing internal talent mobility.

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Google workers use the bungee program to cover a leave of absence

When someone announces a leave of absence, such as maternity leave, the challenge is often figuring out who will cover their work. Hiring externally takes time and can be risky; dividing the work between teammates can be a recipe for disaster.

Google's Bungee program is a great internal mobility solution. Built to boost both career mobility and career development (as well as to boost employee engagement and wellbeing), the program allows another full-time employee to take a different role for several months to cover the leave, and then return to their previous role when the bungee is complete.

The program provides a wealth of opportunities for Google employees to take on new assignments in other business areas – building new skills and internal network connections along the way – and is a huge relief for the departing employee who knows their role will be covered. Plus, the person taking leave can play a role in choosing who covers them, so they feel confident that the incoming employee will fit with the team and do the job well.

This is an important factor in employee engagement for both the absent and the covering employee. Research from SHL shows that employees who are a good fit for a certain challenge are four times more likely to perform at a high level than low-fit candidates. This opportunity to streamline career development also builds further trust between the employee and the organization, and opens up broader career mobility and retention for all. 

We know employee engagement is driven by people having interesting work that motivates them to put in discretionary effort. Google's use of internal hires to fill extended leave is a creative way of facilitating more internal mobility that's a win for both the company and the employees involved. It also gets managers used to team members moving for a period of time, which fosters more engagement from them in internal mobility efforts.

Udemy lets employees sit in on other team meetings

It's no surprise that an online learning company like Udemy would use its own resources to support employee engagement and help their people reskill and upskill. What's unusual is the lengths they will go to in support of an employee's career ambitions.

Udemy has intentionally made internal mobility a healthy part of their culture. They make internal hiring guidelines explicit – such as the transfer process, including eligibility, and how to apply. This means employees aren't scared to raise their hand if they want a job switch, and managers know how to manage it.

Udemy further supports internal mobility and career development by encouraging managers to be open to informational interviews with employees from beyond their own team, and letting employees sit in on meetings outside their own team to see if a certain role or department is going to be a good fit. When an employee finds the right role but doesn't have all the right skills, they can access Udemy's own platform to fill any upskilling need.

You might think being so generous would risk employees leaving or being poached. But this open and fluid culture is paying dividends. Udemy has a Glassdoor rating of 4.6, which puts them at the very top of employee approval ratings (the average company rating on Glassdoor is 3.5).

This is in stark contrast to the 2019 findings of The Harris Poll that reported 77% of employees felt ‘on their own’ when it came to developing their careers at their company. In fact, a lack of career growth was one of the biggest reasons why workers leave.

The culture Udemy has created is a great example of the model that Gallup originally developed for employee engagement and career development. Highly engaged teams are 21% more productive. The key to fostering engaged employees is to help them learn and grow, offer meaningful work, and create the kind of environment where they’re comfortable voicing their opinions.

related content: how organizations can future-proof their workforce by promoting internal career mobility.

UBS improves employee engagement scores with internal mobility

When UBS’ employee engagement survey revealed that only 57% of employees responded favorably to questions about learning and career opportunities at the bank, the CEO and HR leadership team made internal mobility and career development a priority.

Their solution was to build their own talent marketplace – the Career Navigator – which allows employees to search for open positions and allows internal recruiters to search for internal candidates. The Career Navigator also calculates an employee’s fit for each role, shares roles they might not have considered before, connects them to reskilling opportunities for any gaps and lets them apply right on the platform. 

UBS wanted to go beyond just enabling cross-functional moves by becoming an organization that thrives on cross-functional moves. To do this required a culture change, and they focused on line manager effectiveness to achieve it. The bank knew that employees who rated their line managers positively were more likely to stay, so they focused on whether managers were creating positive feedback cultures and supporting career development.

The HR team also transformed how learning was provided at the bank. They moved every offering to the Career Navigator platform, and curated learning around the time employees had available, as well as what they needed to learn for their current and future roles.

In two months the Career Navigator was used 40,000 times, and 120 employees had applied for new roles through it. And in two years, those internal engagement scores increased by 10%.

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the future of internal mobility programs

These examples are proof of what HR practitioners recognize as one of the keys to engagement and high performance – creating a culture of internal mobility. An IBM survey into the future of internal talent mobility found that 90% of respondents believe internal mobility enhances employee career satisfaction, and about 80% believe it improves retention and culture fit to a moderate or great extent. 

related content: the five reasons internal mobility initiatives fail.

Helping people find the right kind of work to fulfil their potential at your company is vital to creating organizational value, driving career development and ensuring wellbeing. A study from LinkedIn asked people, 'In your current job, what is the number one thing that inspires you and makes you happy and want to work harder?' The most popular answer (26%) was 'The nature of the work itself', followed by (19%) 'Opportunity to learn and grow'.

With many organizations now eagerly pursuing internal mobility solutions, it’s become clear that it's not simply a case of choosing which platform – it's a matter of changing the culture.

As career mobility experts, Randstad RiseSmart offers a coaching-centric approach to assist employees throughout every stage of their careers to promote a culture of internal mobility and an engaged and sustainable workforce.