How To Create A Culture Of Internal Mobility

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The greatest asset to your company is its people. Employees who see a path forward in the organization are more likely to stay and contribute their best and are also more effective and affordable than external hires. It’s a win-win-win-win situation, right? Though it may sound that everyone should be hiring from within, companies have found that creating a culture of internal mobility is harder than they think. Here are some tips, best practices, and what’s worked at some of the top companies in the world. 

What does internal mobility look like?

The following list sums up the core characteristics of internal mobility, also called internal recruitment or hiring: 

  • Internal mobility can take different forms, but it is primarily done through promotions to a higher rank or lateral transfers to another business unit. 
  • With successful internal hiring, a company will usually have greater retention rates of its best talent and see financial savings, among other benefits.    
  • Many talent professionals, including 73% of LinkedIn survey respondents, consider internal hiring to be increasingly important to their company but find that the number one obstacle is a manager’s fear of losing good talent. 

Where do you start?

You must first ask yourself why the company has decided to increase internal mobility. Voicing the goals of the program will lead you to the “what” of the program, namely, the logistics, and how to measure progress. For example, Google’s support and operations organization needed a new staffing model when they realized the old model wasn’t agile enough to accommodate changing product strategy. This desire led them to create a job marketplace to give employees and managers the chance to move around. The effort was nicknamed “Project Chameleon” because they wanted people to experience new projects and get used to different surroundings. 

Who needs to be on board?

Both leadership and employees alike need to be on board with these changes. First, there should be transparency in letting employees know what jobs are available (perhaps through an internal job board). Lack of this type of visibility is a barrier: 45% of Deloitte survey respondents said their employees did not know about these positions. 

Yet knowledge alone is not enough–there has to be an incentive, both for the employee and the manager who may lose a team member. In the same Deloitte survey mentioned earlier, 46% of respondents said managers resist internal mobility. If hiring managers are not rewarded for promoting internal mobility, then this will discourage them from helping their team develop the right skills. 

Top executives should be on board, too. Bersin by Deloitte recommends having an executive sponsor champion internal mobility efforts to help foster the culture around it. They also suggest having employees talk about their career development goals with their colleagues and leaders. This was the case for a Swiss global bank, UBS, where they made internal mobility a strategic priority and focused on how effectively line managers could directly play a role in employee development. This focus was reflected in anonymous employee surveys where employees were asked about how well they received feedback, how inclusivity was fostered, and how their managers supported career development. 

When is the program successful?

Certain metrics can be useful in measuring internal mobility across the company and identifying where there are roadblocks in the program. For example, Gap has used certain metrics to monitor internal mobility, including the number and timing of promotions, demotions, and department transfers. From there, you can calculate the time to promotion, average promotion rate, and the percentage of transfers to other departments. 

One example of measuring success is the case of UBS mentioned above. Their talent management score from the employee survey increased by 10 percentage points, where 67% of employees said that the company offers the right opportunities to learn and develop in-house. 

How can technology help?

Having employee profiles in your talent database can help you understand when people are ready for promotions or help identify those who’d qualify for transfers. The use of artificial intelligence software can optimize your recruiting process. Our solution, Censia, is an AI-powered talent intelligence platform that can be integrated into your existing applicant tracking software and help you find qualified and interested internal candidates through internal mobility matching. Technology alone cannot build a culture of internal mobility, but it can greatly support your company by giving you a complete understanding of how your greatest asset—talent—is evolving as you grow.

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About the author

Sonia Easaw
By Sonia Easaw
Sonia Easaw-Panggabean, M.S., MPH, is passionate about creating content that has a positive impact on people’s lives. She has a Master’s degree in Mass Communications and a Master’s degree in public health. She is experienced in writing content about technology, health, and science.