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How Internal Mobility Can Help You Keep Your Top Performers

A new study by research firm Workplace Intelligence, conducted in partnership with Amazon, finds that almost three-quarters of Millennial and Gen Z workers plan to quit their jobs in 2023 due to a lack of skills-building opportunities. Employees surveyed are incredibly focused on remedying this situation: 89% said they’re “extremely” or “somewhat” motivated to improve their skills this year, with 76% noting that the pandemic increased their motivation. And with 83% of employees reporting that improving their skills is one of their top priorities, it’s no surprise that 88% are already putting significant time and effort into this endeavor.

What this means for many companies is that, with a clear upskilling or learning management strategy, they will retain top talent from competitors that offer these opportunities. And while layoffs are in the news for some industries, there are still more job openings than candidates. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 263,000 in November, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent. 

Internal mobility improves retention, increases engagement, and can make your organization more agile to adapt to shifting business priorities. Restructuring or reskilling your current talent base can help you respond faster to unanticipated challenges that may arise. 

The Impact of Internal Mobility on Engagement and Retention

Developing a strategy for upskilling and a path for internal mobility can be the key to retaining your best and brightest, as well as a solution for the future workforce your company needs.

Talent mobility allows you to create a strong leadership pipeline while improving engagement and retention. According to a Global Human Capital Trends report, 53% of younger workers want to take on leadership roles. However, only 6% of organizations have strong leadership programs in place. A talent mobility program means you can see how employees perform in various positions and use data from learning and performance activities to identify leadership candidates. Engagement and retention are improved because employees have ongoing potential to achieve new goals and meet new challenges, create meaningful connections, and build new skills. 

Critical Components of Internal Mobility and Training Programs

Creating mobility within your organization doesn’t mean revisiting your HR tech solutions or hiring an outside consultant. There’s a good chance that many of these components are in place in some form at your organization. However, employee adoption has been low, or team leaders and managers might be reluctant to lose key team members to roles in other departments (this is called “talent hoarding,” and it’s not great for morale or business). Here are a few areas to consider when evaluating your internal mobility strategy.

Communication between your company and your workforce. 

Ensure that internal employees know about new careers and job openings. This is where you’ll work with company leaders to identify internal candidates they would consider “most likely” to excel in these positions. Based on the information you’ve gathered, you can work with your team leaders to create targeted learning programs to accelerate skills training and employee development based on the current needs of their teams. 

Hiring manager buy-in. 

Your hiring managers should feel confident that training and development opportunities for employees mean that there are employees ready to move into their key positions as others move onward and upward. Talent mobility programs don’t create a skills gap; they fill one.

Certification and completion-based learning. 

These include leadership development programs that span a specific period, either online or in a classroom setting, tuition reimbursement programs for certifications earned at a local technical college or university, and apprenticeships. These training programs have a standardized curriculum and are usually tied to career pathing. 

Standard metrics for success. 

Formal programs have specific benchmarks you can measure, including enrollment, participation, graduation turnover, retention rates, revenue per employee, and changes in pay rate per graduate. This data allows you to adjust your offerings and scale programs with the highest return rate.

Creating paths for career development can positively impact employee engagement by ensuring that your employees feel they have a future within your organization. Engaged employees are more productive, innovative, and report higher job satisfaction. Your company’s investment in learning and development opportunities reinforces your commitment to supporting your current and future workforce.