Whether it’s an employee accepting a promotion or transferring to a new position in a different department, the movement of people within your company can be described as talent mobility. This includes all vertical and lateral movement – promotions, demotions, department transfers, new positions, job swaps, and mentorships, to name a few.
Done successfully, talent mobility is more time- and cost-effective than external hiring, but that isn’t the only benefit. The goal of internal mobility is to place employees in roles where they can thrive.
With your people well-positioned to do their best work, you’ll see a boost in engagement, improved retention, increased flexibility, and the fostering of a company culture of openness, learning, and improvement – all important factors in boosting productivity and your company’s bottom line.
So, how do you implement a successful talent mobility strategy? Let’s have a look!
Talent Mobility Strategy: Best Practices
While talent mobility at its simplest is little more than hiring internally, your organization will benefit from adopting a more holistic talent mobility strategy and exploring all that such practices can offer. By implementing specific processes, establishing specialists, and tracking employee data, you can begin to fold mobility -- and, by extension, engagement, adaptability, and openness -- into your company's DNA.
Next, we'll review some talent mobility best practices for you to consider (and we’ve also created a handy career matrix template that you can use).
1. Get Leadership Involved and Onboard
Management may be resistant to “losing” their best employees to other departments, so it’s vital that you get your leadership teams in on the ground level. Ensure they are educated on your organization’s talent mobility strategy and stress the benefits of internal movement. It may also help to audit departments regularly, making note of any that trend toward employee stagnation, and give them extra focus.
2. Focus on DEIB
In the workplace, diversity and equity drive creativity, innovation, and social justice. Focusing on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is a win-win: It’s the right thing to do, and the benefits to your business are tangible. The most diverse companies, who have hired and placed people of different ethnicities, genders, ages, cultural backgrounds, and sexual orientations at all levels, are 35% more likely to experience greater financial returns above the median for their industry.
By building your talent mobility strategy with diversity in mind, you are setting your company up for greater success. Here are a few specific tips:
When writing job descriptions, use gender-neutral, inclusive language.
Use phrasing like “You will…” instead of “He will…”
Skip the jargon and instead use plain language. Spell out acronyms and give the full names for software someone might be using. This way, you’re more likely to attract talent with different experience but transferable skill sets.
Instead of having a list of requirements or “must-haves” – many of which are usually things that can be taught on the job, anyway – stick to describing the specifics of what an employee will be doing in a given position.
Ensure that all employees have access to internal positions with a talent marketplace. Not only will this provide your people with better access to opportunities, but it can also potentially help to alleviate managerial hiring biases by anonymizing candidates.
There is evidence that internal marketplace hires outperform those hires who were selected because of internal connections.
Consider implementing equitable benefits that would help bring everyone onto an even playing field for promotions and new positions.
Flexible hours and childcare stipends are just two offerings that can make a potential promotion more appealing to a great candidate who is otherwise worried about their own availability.
3. Cross-Train Employees
Cross-training is the process by which employees are taught to do the work of another position. Empowering your people to feel comfortable taking needed time off to avoid burnout and ensuring your organization is never left completely in the lurch in the event of an unexpected absence or termination are just two of the many ways that cross-training employees can benefit your business.
For our purposes, let’s narrow that lens and take a look at how cross-training works for talent mobility, specifically:
Cross-training encourages mobility from the ground up, making opportunities like mentorships and job-swapping much more seamless.
You and your employees will better understand how the organization operates at every level, increasing overall flexibility.
You and your employees can get a glimpse of where they are most productive, efficient, and happy within your organization, getting the right people into the right positions.
It can aid in succession planning – seeing which employees work best in a given role and selecting the best candidates for promotion.
Cross-training diverse and underrepresented employees is a major contributor to building a more inclusive workforce.
4. Track Competencies and Implement a Career Growth Framework
A truly efficient talent mobility strategy comes from having an in-depth knowledge of both the competencies required of each position within your organization and the skills of your employees. Tracking this information and mapping it out on a career matrix benefits both you and your employees:
You and your talent mobility team will have a clearer picture of who is best suited for a given role, making the selection process for things like promotions, mentorships, and lateral moves a whole lot faster.
Your employees will better understand what they will need to succeed in a particular position, providing a roadmap to moving to where they want to be.
Career matrices can take on many different forms, but in general, they map out the proficiencies most necessary for a specific position and the employees already best suited to those skills. Sound a little overwhelming? Don’t worry! Take advantage of our career matrix template to get you started.
In our modern working world, with employees increasingly looking externally to advance their careers, the benefits of building a strong talent mobility strategy cannot be understated. Your organization will retain top talent longer and place your most promising people in positions where they – and your company – will thrive. Now that you’ve taken the time to learn some of the best practices for implementing a talent mobility strategy, it’s time to put that knowledge to work.