Aakriti Agarwal- Director, Customer Marketing at Numly(TM), Inc.
All organizations have a single, overarching goal – to transform their workforce through skill development. With people at the core of the organization, internal mobility is now gaining traction as a strategic priority for engaging and retaining talent. As the pandemic continues to exacerbate competition for external candidates compounded by the phenomenon of the ‘The Great Resignation’, reassessing the internal mobility framework for workforce empowerment is the call of the hour. The issues driving the Great Resignation are typically variations of a theme. Some of the areas are largely existential and focus on whether the organizations are fulfilling a pivotal purpose in employee experience and satisfaction with an admirable turnaround strategy.
The Motley Fool’s Recruitment Manager, Healy, once narrated an interesting anecdote of an IT employee who was endeavoring to keep pace with the new technology the organization was introducing. In a typical scenario, this employee may have been let go in any other organization, given his shortfall of technical proficiency needed for the role.
Fortunately, at Motley Fool, skills that are hard-to-quantify – behavioral and interpersonal competencies, willingness to learn, and to work collaboratively in a team were seen as traits that this employee had. However, the employee was placed on an internal mobility program for other roles that indicated a more suitable fit. With the onus of learning on the new job, he moved on to customer-facing positions that were better mapped to his strengths. Eventually, the organization was able to retain an employee who was well-versed with the business and filled a position without otherwise incurring the additional time and expenditure of an external talent search.
Key findings from our research indicate that almost 47% of organizations have increased the number of internal hires and 41% of organizations are seeing an upsurge in their investment in internal mobility initiatives this year. Various cycles of uncertainty have urged organizations to stay hyper-focused on internal mobility and career progression as the ‘go-to’ strategy. Internal mobility is now the new gamechanger and central to talent development strategy and the conflation between employee experience and business growth.
Reality Check – What does this look like in an employee-first world?
The reality of an employee-first labor market has experience dictating organizational success. More significantly, experience nurtures loyalty between customers and organizations. Without a tacit understanding of this effort, the power shift in the workforce from the organization to the employee is inevitable. Employees now have greater demands, expectations, and a far greater influence over their employers.
Essentially, the top workforce priorities represent the shift from ‘what is best for the employer’ to ‘what is best for the employee’. With employees being ambiguous about the career paths they should take or how to advance their careers, organizations, therefore, have an obligation to provide this information today in a way that is relevant and meaningful for amplifying employee engagement across the board.
The Present state of Internal Mobility
At a fundamental level, internal mobility comprises the awareness of internal job opportunities and the development of employees into those opportunities thereof. The awareness level is typically a part of the talent acquisition process that is a culmination of recruitment marketing efforts and candidate communication. The development level is often key to talent management and Human Resources and includes the promotion and progression of careers. Organizations must adopt a strategy that incorporates both elements.
Skills are becoming the new currency for talent development
Today’s workplace dynamic demands critical thinking, problem-solving skills, effective communication, collaboration, creativity. Innovation is now seen as a toolkit of the highest-ranked skills that are being articulated as critical drivers of employee advancement and organizational growth. These competencies are cardinal recommendations for bridging gaps through intensive coaching, training, and development.
Talent strategies of most organizations for 2021 indicate that skills are a vital part of the equation. High-performing organizations that place the skills-based approach at the bottom line of their strategy have a better understanding of the skills they need for today and are more proactive with reskilling and upskilling for the future. These organizations are also more likely to provide opportunities to every employee regardless of their job role. Whilst technology, globalization, and demographic shifts continue to reshape businesses, the significance of skills in the context of productive and healthy work ecosystems cannot be more emphasized. A skills-based approach to internal mobility gives these organizations a competitive advantage.
Inarguably, bringing in the element of humanity into work as the workforce is gradually acclimating to hybrid and remote routines is integral to fostering trust and collaboration. The answers lie in recalibrating mindsets and synthesizing areas that spawn employees’ cognitive capabilities:
- Making connections and conversations deliberate and meaningful
- Practicing vulnerability to enable open communication
- Embracing mindfulness and self-awareness through positive feedback loops
- Embedding coaching and mentorship in Learning and Development strategy for modeling the requisite skills
The Way Forward – People, Processes, and Technology
As organizations look at maturing their internal mobility strategies and adopting a skills-based approach, they should consider the role of people, processes, and technology. However, discovery and introspection are imperative.
Organizations must focus on providing a fair and inclusive experience in the hiring process and make smarter talent decisions to augment upskilling and internal mobility. This calls for a reevaluation of business objectives and priorities to guide decisions and change.
Our study has reported that conversations around reinstating internal mobility programs at both organizational and individual levels must cover the following areas:
- What are the skills we need now and in the future?
- What are the skills gaps that need to be filled?
- What skills does the business need to achieve its goals?
- What skills do I need to develop my career?
- How can I build those skills over the next few years?
- What are my opportunities based on those skills?
It is compelling that when organizations were surveyed for the most critical skills for the future of work, relationship skills and critical thinking skills emerged as priorities over technological, analytical, and digital skills.
Internal mobility is a cross-collaborative effort that includes multiple stakeholders. This study found that high-performing organizations have multiple contributors sharing responsibility for internal mobility efforts with leadership, Chief Diversity Officers, and employees all playing an active role in creating and supporting internal mobility efforts.
Before investing in technology and a skills framework, organizations must integrate their goals and objectives with their processes for internal mobility. Post the discovery phase, the impact of a skills-based approach on both the business and talent objectives must be factored in and adequately substantiated with a roadmap and timeframe for investing in a skill-based approach.
In the context of internal mobility efforts, the current dynamic of the fragmented labor market presents real-time challenges in terms of what drives value, what solutions support employee experience, and what will be adopted. Overall, high-performing organizations are more likely to invest in technology to support their internal mobility efforts and inclined to focus on solutions that support a skills-based approach – including dynamic skills profiles, career development, and talent marketplaces.
In conclusion, internal mobility helps organizations better engage talent, fill critical skills gaps, and prepare for their future workforce and talent needs. Whilst striving to craft talent strategy to revitalize employees’ digital and cognitive capabilities, designing a portfolio of initiatives to close skill gaps ensures that the ever-changing business demands are met with. The cornerstone for success with skill transformations is often large-scale, programmatic efforts that are central to skill-building and acclimating to changing ecosystems. Developing this muscle by harnessing the collective skills and knowledge of the workforce is key to bolstering organizational resilience.