The Employee Experience (EX) Series: Internal Mobility

An anomaly of monumental proportions

Long before COVID, business leaders and HR teams embraced the concept of internal mobility, particularly in larger organizations. Orchestrated correctly, an internal mobility strategy offers employers a way to encourage an employee’s growth and development within the company while significantly increasing the talent pool for the organization. That’s in a “normal” world.

With two years under our belts and a hard start on year three of a global pandemic, the world of work is anything but normal. This highly unpredictable, erratic event triggered rampant employee turnover that only seems to be increasing each and every day.

It’s no exaggeration that business owners and executives are overwhelmed by the devastating repercussions of The Great Resignation. The number of employees leaving their employers continues to escalate with the new year upon us, and people leaders are anxious to learn how to stop the bleeding.

What’s the definition of internal mobility?

Internal mobility refers to an employee’s movement within an organization. This movement includes any internal transitions, whether they be upward, lateral or otherwise. Internal mobility comes to life in many forms:

  • Within the organization (e.g., role changes, promotions, departmental moves, etc.)
  • An internal transfer to a new position (e.g., introductions, setup, training, culture immersion, etc.)
  • Motivating team members to grow and expand their skills within the company

What’s its purpose within the HR ecosystem?

Internal mobility provides employees with the opportunity of growth and development, while it strengthens the employer’s ability to retain employees and fill the skills gap. It’s truly a win-win, especially now as companies scramble for ways to retain their employees.

As the key driver of organizational success, internal mobility enables employers to move employees throughout the company. By reskilling or upskilling workers, critical roles within an organization can more easily be filled with internal candidates while promoting retention. Additionally, this saves the business thousands of dollars each year by hiring from within.

Like most processes, there is an actual purpose behind having an internal talent strategy, especially at enterprise-level organizations:

  • It’s an investment in future-proofing your internal workforce.
  • It drives value for the organization from learned insights to navigate the future as well as strengthening brand reputation.
  • It’s an internal recruitment and talent strategy that underscores employee investment, performance and abilities.

Employee experience & internal mobility: how are they related?

The amount of time an employee spends at a company varies and can span anywhere from days to years to decades. Every situation, interaction and observation they encounter throughout their tenure – from the first day on the job to their last – defines their employee experience. And Internal mobility is part of the employee experience.

With a solid internal mobility strategy in place, you’re providing employees with the freedom and opportunity to move upward or laterally throughout the organization. This not only makes the employee experience more rewarding but also considerably more enticing. But you can’t deliver an engaging or attractive employee experience without internal mobility, and the significance of this connection cannot be overstated.

Why? Because it’s a pivotal moment in your employee’s career at your organization as they hone their professional development. Employers need to understand the many consequential benefits of promoting internal mobility within the company; however, they also need to understand how to do it the right way.

Click Boarding’s Head of Marketing, Michelle Graham, recommends treating internal mobility like a new onboarding experience. “If your employee transitions are flourishing, chances are your internal mobility strategy is impactful,” the leader stated. Additionally, Graham also suggests leveraging internal mobility by “re-establishing your corporate culture and values as you prepare your employee for their new position.”

Graham readily admits the relationship between employee experience and internal mobility is one with lots of individual parts…but those parts are each remarkably related to one another. “The alignment of employee experience and internal mobility cannot be overstated. It’s a pivotal moment in your employee’s career at your company. You need to invest in them and do it right by treating internal mobility like a new onboarding experience, assuming you’re doing this well!” Graham says it’s a time to re-establish your corporate culture and values while preparing an employee for their new position.

To ensure you’re on the right track, Graham recommends the following tactical takeaways:

  • Most importantly, take internal mobility seriously.
    Have a strategic plan that addresses an employee’s development and growth paths for movement within your organization. Give your employees a documented growth path to incent them to stay with the company. Above all, make it possible and worthwhile for them
    and their time.
  • Document employee skills holistically.
    Skills are dynamic, so you can develop a comprehensive inventory of competencies by employee. Then, you can access, update and leverage that information across the organization. Like HR evangelist Jess Von Bank says, “Hiring managers don’t want to lose their people. But you should onboard somebody to the business, not the specific role or job for today. Onboard so well that your employees will want to stay and do their best work with your company.”
  • When transfers happen, capitalize on the moment!
    Don’t lose this opportunity to engage with your employees and deliver an exceptional experience. These are the key moments to
    invest in your onboarding process, show up and migrate them to their new role seamlessly.

Finally, to round out your internal mobility strategy, Software Advice Senior Analyst Sierra Rogers strongly recommends the following employee training topics:

  • Corporate mental health training
  • Diversity and inclusion training
  • Cybersecurity awareness training

The unicorns could be right in front of your eyes

Internal transitions within an organization can make a big difference for employees, and thoughtful transitions are especially crucial. You must put effort and intent for each kind of employee transition if you want them to be holistically successful and also an effective retention tool.

Why pay particularly close attention to upward mobility and promotions right now? Because according to a recent LinkedIn study of 32 million active users, employees who received a promotion within the first three years of employment were 70% more likely to stay at the organization. That’s a massive number. Additionally, up to 62% of employees who moved laterally during the same timeframe stayed with the company. The employees who were neither promoted or moved positions had only a 45% chance of staying for the long term. 

Internal mobility is the budget-conscious way to recognize and reward the unicorns and superstars you  need to move your company forward. If you’re worried about the long-ranging impacts of losing an all-star player, it’s why you need to get this part right the first time. Based on their research, LinkedIn found that 59% of employees joined companies for better career paths or more opportunity.

Furthermore, the 2020 Linked Workplace Learning Report discovered a staggering (but not surprising) 94% of employees said they’d stay longer if the company invested in their learning and development. By leveraging this data, employers have a valuable opportunity to update and refine their current internal mobility strategy to retain more employees.

Examples of internal mobility

It’s important to take into account that there will be overlap in any internal mobility strategy. Employee transitions can take all shapes and forms, and any movement can therefore be classified as internal mobility.

Here are the most common types of internal mobility:

  • Crossboarding – This is most often associated with a lateral shift in position
    • Changing teams, departments or functions within the organization
    • Lateral moves between departments.
    • Changes to role, title, responsibilities or focus areas
  • Promotions – These are typically upward moves in title and/or responsibilities.
    • Move to a leadership or management role
    • Move to a new senior role with added responsibilities
    • Assignment of new projects or even teams
  • Internal transfers – There can be some overlap in these instances.
    • Geographic location shift
    • Reboarding if returning after a furlough or layoff
    • Division move in enterprise-level organizations
    • Can occur after a company reorg or restructure

How internal mobility was impacted by the pandemic

Adding insult to injury, reports employers are now up against “a growing skills gap that threatens the nation’s long-term economic prosperity.” In layman’s terms, there aren’t sufficient employees or talent to accommodate the ballooning number of tech worker jobs in today’s market.

Graham says companies were unable to focus on development or training advancements when Covid first began. “We were all just trying to keep our heads above water!” She cites the biggest, most detrimental impacts to internal mobility throughout the pandemic have included the following:

  • A delay or changes in roles due to shifting priorities
  • The chaos of HR teams and management reacting to Covid
  • Plans for promotions/shifts in team dynamics were likely deferred
  • Astronomical employee burnout, disappointment and dissatisfaction

Graham cautions leaders and HR teams that career growth and development are not something to push to the sidelines if you want to retain top talent in 2022 and beyond. “Employees are the essential lifeblood that keeps the organization running; they’re the engine companies need to propel themselves during Covid and beyond,” she stated.

How to improve internal mobility & increase retention, today and tomorrow

The cold, hard truth is that internal mobility boosts retention. Yet research reveals that only 6% of U.S. companies are actually accomplished pros when it comes to a mature or developed internal mobility strategy. On the other side of the mirror, 60% of employees say it’s easier to find a new role at a different company than to change roles with their current employer.

In December of 2021, thought leader Josh Bersin framed things up bluntly:

“Take care of the employees you have…You don’t want [them] to be part of the Great Resignation. Now is the time to really focus on employees, and EX is all about treating people well. Spend some time getting to know your employees, build a culture of internal mobility and take care of your leaders. It’s the most important retention strategy you have.”

What are the top 3 reasons people leaders and HR professionals need to put a stronger focus on improving internal mobility in 2022 and beyond?

There are three big reasons to put an emphasis on optimizing your internal mobility program:

  1. Improve employee experience (EX)
    In a recent article entitled, “Employee Engagement Tech Key to Post-Pandemic Success,” author Nicole Lewis says companies have gained a much clearer perspective about the employee experience throughout the pandemic. It’s why the sooner your business prioritizes employee experience and adopts a solid internal mobility strategy, the better chances you’ll have at retaining your top talent.
  2. Accelerate time to productivity
    Productivity in the workplace is about finishing assigned goals, with a high degree of quality, in the shortest amount of time. With a shorter time to productivity, businesses can see an immediate impact to their bottom line with increased efficiency.
  3. Reduce employee turnover
    By motivating your employees with a long-term vision, your commitment to that vision and a genuine display of your investment in their talent, you’re more likely to retain them in the long run.

How the Click Boarding platform delivers EX / internal mobility

With the features of our mobile-first employee experience platform, you can capitalize on internal mobility and start enjoying the benefits of a fully automated process:

1. Automated workflows
To facilitate their transition in a seamless, engaging and compliant manner, our platform delivers strategic workflows based on function, location, seniority and other criteria. Workflows can be created to support employees in different roles and areas of business. Best of all, it’s completely configurable to meet your unique business requirements while building employee excitement and anticipation for the transition.
2. Documentation storage
Our platform also allows users to administer protocols and policies with documentation sharing and storage. Additionally, it offers the ability to capture signatures, transfer protocol, upload certifications and more. All employee data can be stored on our platform or exported to a document repository via SFTP.
3. Electronic signature capture
The proprietary E-Signature capabilities within our platform offer the ability to electronically capture signatures. You can also audit the forms and feedback you receive and set up a validation form to confirm all equipment and access levels have been received from their department as they transition into the new one.

Summing it all up

There hasn’t been a riskier time than now to lose your best talent. Discover how our seamless, mobile-first and automated platform elevates the employee experience to optimize your internal mobility efforts and meet new hire engagement expectations. When you’re ready to focus on your people and let the process run itself, we’re here for you. Talk to our employee journey experts about how to automate your process and deploy it at scale across your teams today!

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