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In the rapidly evolving landscape of the modern workforce, the concept of internal mobility has become a critical strategy for organisations aiming to retain talent, adapt to shifting market demands, and foster employee growth. This strategy, focusing on the movement of employees within an organisation, offers avenues for career development, skill enhancement, and new experiences, reflecting the dynamic nature of today’s job market and the evolving expectations of the workforce. By fostering a culture of internal growth and opportunities, organisations are addressing the immediate needs of talent retention and development, positioning themselves strategically for future challenges and market shifts.

Internal mobility refers to the practice of employees transitioning across different roles, levels, or departments within the same organisation. This concept is gaining traction due to several compelling reasons. A key factor is its role in talent retention; a LinkedIn study found that employees who change roles within the same company are 70% more likely to stay for three years, highlighting the impact of internal mobility on employee longevity. Additionally, internal mobility is vital for career growth, a major contributor to employee satisfaction and motivation. According to SHRM, career advancement opportunities are among the top factors for job satisfaction. Thus, by facilitating internal mobility, companies are boosting overall job satisfaction.

Moreover, internal mobility enables employees to diversify their skills and experiences. Gartner’s research indicates that organisations supporting diverse career paths see higher employee retention and performance levels. This aspect of internal mobility demonstrates its direct impact on both performance and retention. Furthermore, it is increasingly relevant in adapting to market changes, with over 90% of employers prioritising skill and career adaptability, as per a Willis Towers Watson survey. In a nutshell internal mobility transcends being a mere HR trend, evolving into a strategic necessity in today’s dynamic job market.

The evolution from corporate ladder to lattice

 

The corporate world is undergoing a significant transformation in its approach to career development, moving from the traditional corporate ladder to a more flexible lattice model. This shift is driven by changing workforce dynamics and the need for a more adaptive approach to career growth.

The corporate ladder model, characterised by a linear and upward progression in a career path, has long been the standard in organisational structures. However, this model often limits the scope of career development, focusing primarily on vertical movement and hierarchy. In contrast, the lattice model offers a multidirectional approach to career progression, allowing employees to move laterally, vertically, or even pause their career path as needed. This model is more suited to today’s dynamic work environment, where the pace of change requires employees to adapt quickly and continuously develop new skills.

AT&T’s transition to a lattice framework is a prime example of this shift. Recognising the need for a more agile and skilled workforce, AT&T moved away from the rigid ladder system to embrace a framework that allows for diverse and multidirectional career paths. This transition is part of a broader trend where companies are adopting more fluid and flexible career models to align with the evolving aspirations and skills of their workforce.

Data supports this transition’s effectiveness. According to the 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report by Deloitte, organisations that offer flexible and diverse career models have 5.4 times higher rates of employee transfer and movement compared to those with traditional models. This statistic highlights the lattice model’s role in facilitating internal mobility and skill development.

Furthermore, a study by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) found that companies with well-managed lateral moves have employee engagement rates nearly twice as high as those with poorly managed moves. This finding suggests that the lattice model not only supports career development but also enhances employee engagement and satisfaction.

The shift from the corporate ladder to a lattice model represents a strategic response to the changing nature of work and workforce expectations. By offering multidirectional career paths, organisations are better positioned to develop a versatile and dynamic workforce, aligned with the rapid pace of change in the business world.

Success stories of Internal mobility

 

AT&T’s Digital Upskilling Initiative

AT&T’s initiative to re-skill its workforce, known as the ‘Digital Upskilling Initiative’, is a groundbreaking effort that underscores the importance of internal mobility in a technologically evolving landscape. Recognising the rapid pace of technological advancement, AT&T embarked on a significant investment in its workforce, focusing on training and upskilling in emerging technologies. This initiative was not just a response to external market pressures but a proactive step to future-proof their workforce and emphasise a commitment to employee growth and adaptability.

The success of AT&T’s initiative is evident in several key aspects. Firstly, the company dedicated a significant amount of resources towards this program. According to their 2016 Annual Report, AT&T invested about $250 million in employee training and professional development programs and provided more than 20 million hours of training. This substantial investment indicates the company’s commitment to equipping its employees with the skills needed for the future.

Moreover, the initiative’s impact on employee skill development was significant. AT&T’s Future Ready initiative, a part of the larger upskilling program, aimed to help employees prepare for roles in areas like cybersecurity, data science, and software development. By 2020, the company reported that nearly half of its workforce had mastered new skills, thus making them more adaptable and versatile in their roles.

The program also demonstrated positive outcomes in terms of employee engagement and retention. According to a case study by Harvard Business Review, AT&T’s approach to re-skilling helped in boosting employee morale and engagement as it provided clear career pathways and opportunities for advancement within the company. This approach not only helped in retaining top talent but also attracted new talents interested in developing their careers in a dynamic and supportive environment.

In essence, AT&T’s ‘Digital Upskilling Initiative‘ is a testament to the power of internal mobility and the importance of investing in employee development. By prioritising the upskilling of its workforce, AT&T not only prepared its employees for the challenges of a digital future but also reinforced a culture of continuous learning and adaptability, essential traits for any organisation looking to thrive in the modern business landscape.

Sodexo’s approach to promoting within

Sodexo’s approach to promoting within through its internal mobility program is an exemplar of progressive workforce management strategies. This program places a strong emphasis on the importance of transferable skills, allowing employees to move fluidly across different roles and departments. By doing so, Sodexo has effectively challenged traditional barriers to internal promotion, creating a workforce that is more flexible, dynamic, and responsive to changing business needs.

A key aspect of Sodexo’s strategy is its focus on career development and learning opportunities for employees. The company invests heavily in training programs, this commitment to continuous learning facilitates the development of transferable skills, which are critical for successful internal mobility.

In terms of outcomes, Sodexo’s approach has yielded tangible benefits. Sodexo’s focus on internal mobility has positively impacted its talent acquisition and retention strategies. In its yearly report, it highlighted that its internal mobility programs help retain critical talent and reduce turnover costs. This is significant in the context of findings from the Work Institute, which reports that replacing an employee can cost up to 33% of their annual salary.

Sodexo’s internal mobility program, with its focus on transferable skills and employee development, not only fosters a more adaptable and skilled workforce but also contributes to higher employee engagement and retention.

Spotify’s mission-based job rotation

Spotify’s innovative approach to internal mobility, particularly its mission-based job rotation system, represents a forward-thinking strategy in employee career development. This system allows employees to undertake different roles or “missions” within the company on a rotational basis, typically every couple of years. Such an approach is designed to maintain high levels of employee engagement and motivation, combat job stagnation, and foster a workforce with a diverse set of skills and experiences.

A 2022 Gallup report on workplace trends highlights the importance of job variety and skill development in enhancing employee engagement. According to their findings, employees who have the opportunity to learn and grow are more engaged and less likely to experience burnout.

Furthermore, a study by the Corporate Leadership Council indicates that providing employees with diverse job experiences is linked to a 30% increase in their performance and engagement levels. Spotify’s mission-based job rotation aligns with these findings, suggesting that its employees likely experience similar benefits.

Additionally, research from LinkedIn’s 2022 Workforce Learning Report emphasises the growing trend of upskilling and reskilling in the corporate world. The report states that 64% of learning and development professionals globally are focusing more on building internal mobility programs. This trend underscores the relevance of Spotify’s approach in the current job market.

The challenges of implementing Internal Mobility and solutions to these challenges

 

  1. Managerial resistance

Challenge: Managerial resistance to internal mobility often stems from the fear of losing key team members and the perceived disruption this might cause to ongoing projects. Managers may be concerned about the time and resources spent on training employees, only to see them move to different roles within the organisation. Overcoming this requires a shift in mindset, where managers understand the long-term benefits of internal mobility for the organisation, including increased employee engagement and retention.

Solution: Implement a “talent-sharing” mindset where managers are recognised and rewarded for supporting internal mobility. Provide training for managers to understand the long-term organisational benefits of talent development and succession planning. Encourage cross-departmental collaboration to alleviate concerns about losing key team members.

  1. Cultural barriers

 Challenge: An organisation’s culture can significantly impact the effectiveness of internal mobility programs. In cultures where external hires are valued over internal promotions, employees may feel discouraged from seeking internal opportunities. Changing this culture involves creating an environment that values and encourages career growth within the organisation, recognising and rewarding the development and mobility of existing employees.

Solution: Foster a culture of internal growth by celebrating internal career moves publicly and incorporating internal mobility success stories into company communications. Leadership should actively endorse and participate in the program, setting an example for the rest of the organisation.

  1. Lack of clear policy and process

Challenge: The absence of a clear and consistent policy on internal mobility can lead to confusion and unfair practices. It’s crucial to develop standardised procedures that are transparent and accessible to all employees. This includes clear guidelines on how to apply for internal positions, eligibility criteria, and the selection process, ensuring fairness and transparency in internal mobility.

Solution: Establish a centralised internal mobility program with clearly defined policies. This should include standardised application processes, transparent job postings, and fair selection criteria. Regular training sessions could be conducted for employees to navigate the process effectively.

  1. Limited visibility of internal opportunities

Challenge: Employees often miss out on internal opportunities due to a lack of visibility. Organisations need to improve their internal communication strategies to ensure that all employees are aware of available opportunities. This might involve regular updates through internal newsletters, intranet postings, or dedicated career development portals.

Solution: Develop an internal job board accessible to all employees. Utilise digital platforms like the company intranet, email newsletters, and team meetings to regularly advertise open internal positions. Engage in active internal marketing campaigns to promote awareness of these opportunities.

  1. Skill and role mismatch

Challenge: Matching employees’ skills and career aspirations with the right internal opportunities is a complex task. Organisations should invest in career planning tools and assessment programs to understand employees’ skills, strengths, and areas of interest. This can help in effectively aligning employee capabilities with internal opportunities.

Solution: Invest in career assessment tools and talent analytics to match employees’ skills and aspirations with internal opportunities. Conduct regular career development discussions and workshops to help employees identify their strengths and potential career paths within the organisation.

  1. Inadequate career pathing

Challenge: Lack of clear career pathways can leave employees feeling uncertain about their growth prospects within the organisation. Developing well-defined career paths and progression plans can help employees understand how they can grow and develop within the company, making internal mobility a more attractive option.

Solution: Create structured career paths and roadmaps that are visible and accessible to all employees. Provide mentorship programs and career coaching to guide employees through their career progression within the company.

  1. Fear of internal competition

Challenge: Increased internal competition for positions can lead to tensions and conflicts among staff. It’s important to manage this by fostering a supportive culture where healthy competition is encouraged, and employees are supported in their development regardless of the outcome of their internal applications.

Solution: Promote a culture of collaborative growth rather than cut-throat competition. Encourage team-building activities and peer-support networks to mitigate conflicts. Managers should be trained to handle internal competition in a way that fosters a positive work environment.

  1. Data and technological limitations

Challenge: Leveraging technology and data effectively for internal mobility can be challenging for some organisations. Investing in advanced HR systems that can track employees’ skills, career aspirations, and internal application history can greatly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of internal mobility programs.

Solution: Invest in a robust HR information system (HRIS) that can manage internal mobility processes, including tracking skills, career interests, and internal application history. Utilise data analytics to inform decision-making and identify internal talent pools.

  1. Employee readiness and mindset

Challenge: Not all employees may be ready or willing to embrace change and take on new challenges. Organisations need to foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptability, providing support and resources to help employees prepare for and adapt to new roles within the company.

Solution: Create programs that encourage continuous learning, such as online courses, workshops, and cross-training opportunities. Establish a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable taking risks and exploring new roles within the organisation.

  1. Performance management alignment

Challenge: Aligning performance management systems with internal mobility goals is crucial. This involves evaluating employees not just based on their current role performance but also on their potential and readiness for other roles. Effective performance management should support and encourage employees’ career development and mobility within the organisation.

Solution: Integrate internal mobility goals into the performance management process. Use performance reviews as an opportunity to discuss career aspirations and potential internal opportunities. Adjust performance metrics to include development and learning objectives.

Effectively implementing internal mobility strategies requires addressing a range of challenges, from managerial resistance to cultural barriers, lack of clear policies, and technological limitations. Each challenge presents an opportunity for organisations to innovate and strengthen their internal mobility framework. By fostering a culture that values career growth, developing clear and fair mobility processes, leveraging technology for better visibility and matching, and encouraging a supportive environment for career exploration, organisations can not only enhance their internal mobility efforts but also create a more dynamic, skilled, and satisfied workforce. Success in these areas is instrumental in building a resilient organisation that is well-prepared to navigate the complexities of the modern business landscape.

The future of work and Internal Mobility

 

Bridging the talent gap

  1. Importance of Upskilling and Re-skilling

In a rapidly evolving job market, particularly in high-skill areas, the need to bridge the talent gap is crucial. Upskilling and reskilling existing employees are more efficient and cost-effective than external hiring. Our 2022 “Coffee Mornings” podcast series, especially the episodes on “Upskilling” and “Skills Taxonomy,” emphasised the significance of these strategies in addressing skill shortages.

By investing in training programs and continuous learning opportunities, organisations can prepare their workforce for future demands, ensuring they possess the necessary skills and knowledge to tackle new challenges.

  1. Aligning skills with organisational needs

A skills taxonomy, as discussed in our podcast, is essential in aligning employees’ skills with the evolving needs of the organisation. By understanding the current skill sets of employees and the skills needed in the future, organisations can tailor their training programs effectively. This approach ensures that the workforce is not only skilled but also aligned with the strategic direction of the organisation.

Employee engagement and turnover reduction

  1. Enhancing employee engagement through Internal Mobility

Effective internal mobility strategies significantly boost employee engagement. When employees see clear paths for career advancement and personal growth within their current organisation, they are more engaged and committed to their roles. This is not only beneficial for employee morale but also for organisational productivity. Regular career discussions, mentorship programs, and transparent internal job postings are ways to foster this engagement. Recognising and rewarding internal career progression can also play a pivotal role in enhancing employee satisfaction.

  1. Reducing turnover and associated costs

High turnover rates can be costly for organisations, not just financially but also in terms of lost knowledge and decreased morale. By implementing strong internal mobility programs, organisations can significantly reduce turnover. Employees who see opportunities for growth and development are less likely to seek employment elsewhere. Data from our podcast discussions highlights that organisations focusing on internal mobility and career development tend to retain employees for longer periods. This retention not only saves on recruitment costs but also builds a more experienced and loyal workforce.

In summary, the future of work demands a strategic focus on internal mobility, underpinned by effective upskilling and reskilling initiatives, and a strong commitment to employee engagement and retention. By addressing these key areas, organisations can not only bridge the talent gap but also cultivate a resilient, adaptable, and satisfied workforce ready to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing business environment.

Conclusion

 

The importance of internal mobility in shaping the future workforce cannot be overstated. It stands as an important strategy, transcending traditional HR practices to become a cornerstone in building a resilient and adaptable workforce. This approach is crucial in the modern job market, characterised by rapid technological advancements and evolving work paradigms.

A quick recap of the benefits:

  1. Adaptability and skill development

Internal mobility fosters a culture of adaptability within the workforce. By encouraging employees to take on different roles and challenges, organisations nurture a versatile skill set that is crucial in today’s fast-paced business environment. This flexibility not only benefits the employees in their career growth but also equips the organisation to adapt to changing market demands more efficiently.

  1. Employee satisfaction and retention

A workforce engaged in continuous learning and internal career progression is more likely to be satisfied and committed. This satisfaction is a key factor in employee retention. Organisations that invest in their employees’ growth see a decrease in turnover rates, leading to a more stable and experienced workforce. The cost savings from reduced turnover further underscore the financial viability of internal mobility programs.

  1. Cultivating a learning culture

Internal mobility is intrinsically linked to a culture of continuous learning and growth. Organisations that prioritise internal career development opportunities demonstrate a commitment to the professional and personal growth of their employees. This commitment fosters a positive workplace environment, where learning and development are integral to the organisational ethos.

  1. Future-proofing the workforce

By embracing internal mobility, organisations are not just responding to current market needs but are proactively preparing for future challenges. This strategic foresight is crucial in building a workforce that is not only skilled for today’s requirements but is also equipped to handle future technological and market shifts.

In conclusion, internal mobility is a multifaceted strategy that benefits both the organisation and its employees. It is an essential component of a modern organisational strategy, pivotal in building a workforce that is adaptable, skilled, and aligned with the continuous evolution of the job market. This approach paves the way for organisations to not only survive but thrive in the dynamic landscape of the future of work. If you wish to learn more about how internal mobility can be effectively implemented in your organisation or have any queries regarding our discussions in the “Coffee Mornings” podcast, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re here to assist you in harnessing the power of internal mobility to create a robust, future-ready workforce.