What is Talent Mobility?

Why talent mobility is the secret to a productive, flexible, and happy workforce.

talent mobility

Talent mobility describes an employee’s ability to move between positions within their company. Encouraging mobility is a key element of good talent management, which encompasses recruitment, hiring, training, and workforce planning.

The goal of talent mobility is to better understand the skills, motivations, and backgrounds of your workforce. This allows management to simultaneously retain and develop talent by encouraging and facilitating movement between roles. The opportunity to acquire new experiences and skills appeals to a modern workforce who value flexibility and evolution over stability; it also helps companies better understand and harness their employees’ potential. Given the high turnover rates of today’s workforce, a robust talent mobility program can also save your company the steep costs, both direct and indirect, of losing those employees looking for new professional experiences. In other words, talent mobility is the secret to a productive, flexible, and happy workforce.

How to Develop a Strategic Approach to Talent Mobility

It has become increasingly important for Human Resources managers to find ways to retain their top talent past offering standardized career paths. Now that moving between companies and searching for jobs is easier than ever, internal recruiting is essential: it leads to internal mobility, lower turnover rates, and increased employee satisfaction. Unfortunately, it’s a strategy that many companies haven’t gotten right

A strong talent mobility strategy requires understanding your employees’ needs, and giving the same attention and energy to internal recruiting as you do to external recruiting. Talent mobility best practices also include developing a company-wide culture of transparency: about what opportunities are available now, what opportunities will be available in the future, and what the company is doing to understand its employees’ desires and develop their skills. This is a strategy that reflects some of the biggest HR trends we’re currently seeing: employee optimization, self-directed learning, and digitized HR. 

Benefits of Leveraging a Talent Mobility Strategy

1) Reduction in Turnover Costs

The most measurable benefit of investing in internal talent mobility is a decrease in turnover rates. When employees leave a company, that company doesn’t just pay for the cost of hiring a replacement. They must also shoulder the lost productivity, connections, and knowledge of the departing employee. A talent mobility strategy can greatly reduce these costs: a recent LinkedIn study showed that such a strategy would encourage 41% of employees to stay longer at their current job.

A strong sense of loyalty among employees also inspires interest from outside candidates. As Robert Erickson, Denise Moulton, and Bill Cleary wrote for Deloitte in 2018, internal mobility helps managers “create a powerful magnet for people outside your organization who seek professional growth.” All workers, but Millennials in particular, value the ability to rise and grow within an organization. When that opportunity is prevalent in a company, they will be more likely to stay—and their peers will want to join them. 

2) Higher Employee Engagement

Retaining and developing top talent means consistently providing them with new options for growth and evolution. When a company invests in coaching and cross-training in the service of internal mobility, it can drastically increase employee engagement. Employees are eager to maximize their existing skills and develop new ones; they also want to know that their career development is a priority to their company. Implementing systems that aim to match employee skill sets with ongoing opportunities is therefore an important way to increase worker satisfaction and efficacy.  With a transparent talent mobility program, employees understand that their interests and needs are valued. And they are able to focus on their own growth, learning, engagement, and communication.

Providing agile career models is an important factor in maximizing employee engagement. Opportunities for internal hiring and lateral movement allow employees to feel a sense of ownership over their career path. Knowing that their own goals align with those of their employer will help employees feel valued and motivated. And management gains a better understanding of an employee’s skills as they move between roles.

3) Overall Improvement to Productivity and Satisfaction

Prioritizing internal hiring can significantly cut the amount of onboarding time required by a new hire, especially in crucial leadership positions. This leads to higher workforce productivity and satisfaction. It also encourages better management practices. When management is invested in worker satisfaction and attuned to the skills and needs of its employees, managers are better equipped to support those workers. The communication required of a talent mobility strategy also develops meaningful connections between employees and management. 

Another important aspect of talent management is global mobility. In order to succeed in understanding and supporting their workforce, companies need a centralized database that locates their global workforce and allows for strategic mobility. Mapping talent is the first step in leveraging its potential. 

Using Talent Mobility To Create An Internal Leadership Pipeline

When important—and often high-paying—leadership roles open up, recruiters often look to external candidates and spend significant amounts of time and money in recruiting them. For companies that create internal leadership pipelines through talent mobility programs, these hiring processes are less costly and less risky. 

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When companies invest in storytelling and career pathing, they set themselves up to fill roles with qualified, agile employees who have been well-trained. Through storytelling, employees are able to learn about a variety of different career paths within their company and understand the skills and commitments required of leadership roles. Career pathing helps them understand how they might get there. 

When employees have been encouraged to move laterally within their organization, they are better equipped to move up. And mapping each employee’s qualifications allows for smarter internal hiring practices: When positions become available, managers understand how employees perform in a variety of scenarios and can use information from cross-training exercises to identify the best candidates for leadership roles. 

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