Improving engagement and promoting internal mobility are two sides of the same coin. While it is not always possible to elevate people along their current career paths, cross mobility or job enrichment strategies offer more options to help employees’ new skills and growth. Without a doubt, times have changed, and employees’ needs and expectations have grown, leaving organizations with two options: try to retain them or risk losing them. It is obvious that the first is the better option.

This article will assess the obstacles and possibilities in internal mobility and recommend what learning and development (L&D) and training departments can do to facilitate internal employee movement.

The Need for Internal Movement

Employees are increasingly demanding a transparent work environment that promotes long-term and meaningful development in their leadership, careers and education.

According to a recent Gartner study, 35% of employees surveyed left their company for better opportunities for progress. As L&D experts, we must do everything we can to retain our people by providing them these opportunities.

When we engage employees by fostering internal mobility, they feel challenged, energized and want to continue flourishing within that organization. People often abandon jobs that are unchallenging rather than those that are difficult.

Retention and internal movement also benefit the organization’s bottom line. Research shows that outside hires earn about 18% to 20% more than internal workers in the same position. Moving personnel inside the organization avoids paying a premium to bring in new talent.

What is the average cost of onboarding a new employee? According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), the average cost per hire in the U.S. is $4,700. There is a lot of lost value in the additional expenses that accrue when new workers are employed. Internal movement into a new role does take time, but getting into a firm, finding the right contacts and learning how the organization works takes even more time and money.

L&D professionals must adopt the right strategy to keep the internal talent they have by providing opportunities for growth. Let’s explore some ideas for how to support employees’ internal mobility.

Strategies for L&D To Enable More Internal Mobility

1. Engagement Conversations:

Thoughtful discussions are critical for empowering managers. An engagement conversation is an opportunity for a manager to stress an associate’s value to the organization by discussing what motivates them to come to work, what helps them feel a sense of belonging and their career goals.

These critical initiatives help managers identify critical engagement and retention factors while showing employees how important they are to their organization, creating a sense of belonging and connectedness within the company.

2. Establish a Professional Development Hub:

A professional development hub considers employees’ talents and career history and helps them think about their professional objectives. It connects them with mentors and co-workers, suggests learning courses and assists them in exploring jobs and potential career paths. This helps highlight available opportunities for learning and growth, and provides them with a development plan where they can add learning activities and track their progress toward key goals. So, it’s really about empowering employees to take charge of their careers by allowing them to engage, network, learn new things and plan their next steps.

3. Organize a Growth Week:

Demonstrate to all employees the value of learning and growth by instituting a “growth week” with dedicated time for professional development. This demonstrates that the organization honestly believes in their development and cares about them growing in their careers. This is a good opportunity for everyone to kick-start their development and genuinely take control of their careers by immersing themselves in training. It can also help demonstrate that your organization invests in your workers’ professional development.

What’s Next?

To improve internal mobility and supplement it with ongoing development, L&D teams must encourage and support employees’ efforts toward future leadership actions and learning. L&D teams must continue encouraging adoption and internal mobility opportunities and supplement “event-based” training with ongoing learning and progress.

This article is an excerpt from the presentation, “L&D Strategies to Support Internal Mobility for Employees,” given by Paul Langlois, vice president of enterprise learning of Ecolab at LearnFlux June 2022. This information is given in a summary form and does not purport to be complete.

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