New Solutions to foster Talent Mobility

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March 21, 2017 | Ben Eubanks | IBM

Internal talent mobility is one of the leading talent differentiators for successful businesses. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s the practice of using internal talent to fill roles. However, it also can be leveraged as a tool for creating new paths and opportunities for your staff. Talent mobility has a far-reaching set of impacts and organizational benefits, including:

  • Recruiting: instead of immediately looking externally for talent, you consider your internal talent inventory to determine if you have someone you can move into the role
  • Retention: by using internal staff for filling positions, you increase retention and drive satisfaction for the workforce
  • Learning and development: instead of putting someone in a class, you give them an experiential/social learning opportunity by plugging them into a new environment

Unlike succession, which is typically a top-down approach, talent mobility takes into account the interests and aspirations of employees. As a talent practice, the idea of talent mobility isn't necessarily new. However, there is renewed interest in the topic due to some interesting trends affecting the workforce, such as:

Changes in career longevity. With people across the generational spectrum working shorter durations at employers, companies are looking for ways to keep them engaged and highly productive.

Employees seeking ownership over career paths. Research shows that candidates and employees want control over the direction of their career and development paths.

Challenges with sourcing high performers. In every research study we have performed in the last few years, we have seen “hiring technical talent” and “hiring top talent” surface as key challenges over and over again.

The Number One Predictor of Success

In nearly ten years of practicing HR and performing research in the talent management field, we have found that the number one predictor of a company’s ability to make internal talent mobility work is an underlying culture of learning and growth. It’s critical to see this not just as a version of acceptance, but as encouragement and expectation.

For instance, in many companies, it is frowned upon for employees to indicate interest in another role, because managers are worried about losing that talent. This “talent hoarding,” where managers refuse to let people move within the organization, ultimately leads to turnover when those people exhaust all their efforts and still are not being challenged. Gallup research says that 93% of workers that took a new job did so outside their company.

Talent Mobility Success Stories

There are many examples of companies that are making talent mobility a priority. The following is a small subset of the companies that are embracing internal talent mobility:

  • World Bank Group's internal marketplace, which is structured as an "eBay for talent"
  • Chipotle's development/growth bonuses and how it rewards managers that encourage upward mobility
  • Hootsuite's stretch program that offers experiential learning on top of value creation opportunities for employees across the organization

Each case study tells a slightly different story, and I’m excited to share those examples at the IBM & HCI March 23rd webcast, The Talent Mobility Solution: Powerful Research and Success Stories.