Development & Retention

Internal Talent Mobility: What It Is and How To Enable It

What if the best candidate for your company’s latest job opening was already part of your organization? A good internal talent mobility strategy can help you fill those roles.
Labor shortages and skills gaps have many organizations scrambling to fill roles. While companies have doubled down on their external recruiting and hiring, finding the right fit is not always easy. As open job positions linger, the company’s productivity, morale, and bottom line may suffer.

So, instead of focusing heavily on recruiting external candidates, why don’t companies look internally?

Often, they don’t have an internal mobility program that empowers employees to take their skills and experience to another team or new level.
Let’s explore how companies can benefit from developing and enabling internal candidates and the best practices for implementing an internal mobility strategy.

What Is Internal Talent Mobility?

Internal talent mobility exists when employees can advance across roles or completely change their occupation within the same organization. This type of mobility includes transferring into a management role or transitioning into a completely different department within the company. 

The practice of internal talent mobility has provided many opportunities for employees to advance in their careers. When companies use this talent acquisition strategy in their own recruiting and hiring processes, it opens up new opportunities for internal employees.

Why Is Internal Talent Mobility Important?

People look for new opportunities outside of their current company because they don’t feel like their employers prioritize hiring within. Unfortunately, businesses that do not prioritize internal career development or promotions within their organizations leave employees little choice if they want to advance in their careers.

When an employee leaves their job, it can cost the company up to a year’s salary to replace them. This is especially true if the company is using an external recruiting agency.

If your organization selects internal candidates, it has a unique opportunity to save money. Funds that were earmarked for hiring external employees can thus be used for other important company activities.
Internal talent mobility can also benefit your company by enhancing employee retention. Significant efforts to motivate and elevate team members improves workplace culture and encourages employees who want to stay, seize learning opportunities, career goals and grow. Internal recruiting also helps employers avoid the risk of hiring the wrong person for the job. While this risk is inevitable, it may be lower with internal candidates since managers have witnessed their employee engagement, their skills and work ethics firsthand.

3 Types of Internal Talent Mobility Structures

There is no one-size-fits-all internal talent mobility structure. That’s why it’s essential to understand your company’s needs and your leadership team’s capacity to guide employees. Set your company up for success before implementing an internal mobility program.

Planned Internal Talent Mobility

This system focuses on the traditional career structure. Employees share their goals with their managers or leaders, who help guide them toward the experiences and training to help them achieve them, but within predetermined paths.

Facilitated Internal Talent Mobility

Similar to the planned structure, this system allows employees to move non-vertically throughout the organization. This structure can be designed to account for employees' aspirations and business needs.

Agile Internal Talent Mobility

The cross-functional capabilities of this system allow employees to quickly shift their roles within the organization in response to business needs and personal interests. Allowing employees to change career paths within your organization can create a more agile, dynamic work culture.

Talent assessments can play a valuable role in setting up the proper guidance and resources to help employees reach their desired goals.

Using Talent Assessments To Develop Paths for Growth

We often think of pre-employment assessments as being primarily about candidate selection. But the results of these tests can also be used to develop career development plans and derive options for future assignments and opportunities for training and professional development.

You’re essentially starting your internal mobility program the first day someone joins.

You can also regularly assess your current employees to identify those with the potential to take on leadership roles or reskill into emerging functions.

Aptitude Tests

Cognitive ability tests are among the most often used assessments by HR leaders and managers. There is good reason for this, as they rank among the most powerful predictors of long-term career success. These assessments can measure numerical, verbal, abstract logical, or other specialized abilities to determine if an employee has the required skill set to perform a job successfully. They can also identify skills gaps that managers can then address with additional training.

Personality Tests

Personality tests can also be used to assess for potential during the pre-hire process. While it is essential employees have the skills to perform well in their jobs, it is equally vital that they are a good fit for your company’s culture and values.

Personality tests measure behavioral traits, motivational factors, values, and ethics. Employers can even test for openness to innovation and creativity. Data collected from these tests can help identify people who have potential to thrive in new roles, regardless of their previous experiences.

Job Simulations

Job simulation tests measure an employee’s effectiveness in dealing with real-world problems they may encounter on the job. These tests can range from work samples to situational judgment questionnaires. By evaluating employee reactions to real scenarios, hiring managers can rank applicants based on their desired responses. Job simulations also give potential employees some insight in what the role would require should they be hired.

3 Best Practices for Embracing Talent Mobility

Keep the following elements in mind when implementing an internal talent mobility program within your organization.

Emphasize Continous Upskilling

Make employee learning a priority in workforce planning and the growth of your organization. Encouraging continuous education allows employees to stay relevant as traditional work structures evolve.

Creating an incentive around continuing education and learning new skills also helps keep internal candidates motivated. Assess their knowledge by putting what they’ve learned into practice with an assessment or extended project.

Rally the Support of Your Leadership Team

Internal talent mobility is not a one-person job. Having the support of your leadership team is vital to the success of any internal talent mobility program. Create clear communication on the benefits of this practice and how it will help the organization.

Prioritize the Employee Experience

Strong internal mobility programs can improve the employee experience. Confusing ones can damage it.

Transparency and prompt feedback are critical, whether people land the jobs they want or not. Make the time to give immediate feedback, and be clear on the next steps.
Creating a culture based on learning, development, and growth helps leaders save costs on recruiting while retaining top talent and maintaining an efficient internal talent mobility structure. Use internal talent mobility best practices to prioritize your workforce’s growth throughout every part of their employee journey.

Aon | Assessment Solutions

Aon's assessment solutions provides clients with powerful tools and insights to help them make better talent decisions at every stage of the employee lifecycle. This includes pre-hire assessments, identifying future leaders, screening for digital skills and agility, and AI-enabled solutions.

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