In our efforts to improve employee retention, we tend to underestimate the potential of internal recruitment, associating it with traditional hiring styles - the kind where you post on an internal job board and call it a day.
But forward-thinking companies take a more creative and strategic approach to internal hiring, often described as internal mobility or talent mobility. Let's take a closer look at how it works!
Internal mobility is the movement of employees moving between roles in your organisation. These moves can be linear, e.g. Junior Developer to Fullstack Developer, or non-linear, e.g. Customer Service Agent to HR Assistant.
More and more companies are taking an active role in internal mobility, developing frameworks to ensure this happens as efficiently as possible, saving time and money in attrition costs, and improving engagement through increased career development opportunities for employees. Other terms for internal mobility include talent mobility and career mobility.
The potential benefits of internal mobility can be really far-reaching. Just take software company ServiceNow as an example - by shifting their talent strategy in 2022, they filled 1,500 open positions with existing employees (1).
1. It boosts retention.
We’re spoiled for choice on data demonstrating that internal mobility and internal recruiting is good for retention. We know that lack of career opportunities is the number one reason why people leave their jobs (2). Research from the Josh Bersin Institute suggests that companies can hugely reduce attrition by supporting atypical career paths for their people (3). And a study by Gallup shows that companies that invest in employe career development are 2 times more likely to retain their people (4).
In short, supporting employees to develop new skills and pursue new roles in your company is not only beneficial, it might just be critical to your company’s success.
2. It saves the company money.
The costs associated with replacing an employee go beyond basic hiring costs like advertising the role online. There’s also the cost of onboarding and training your new employee and the cost of decreased productivity to consider. Research suggests the cost of replacing each employee could be anywhere between 50% and 250% of their annual salary (5).
Hiring internally could reduce these costs down to almost zero if the employee is ready to step into their new role. If they aren’t, the savings in terms of onboarding and productivity are still really enticing.
3. It saves the company time.
With an internal hire, we usually speed up the hiring process, and we don’t need to devote time to practices like background checks and culture fit screening.
Onboarding time is reduced or eliminated, as is productivity lost as the employee gets to grips with the new role. This last point is very good news, as research shows that it takes a new hire between 12 and 28 weeks to reach the productivity of a previous employee (6).
4. It improves employee engagement.
By hiring internally, an organisation demonstrates that they value the contribution and career progression of their employees, increasing engagement.
In a study by Salesforce, 70% of employees said that increased investment in learning and development would make them happier and more productive (6), while research by LinkedIn Learning shows that 94% of employees would stay with their current employer longer if they offered good learning opportunities (7).
1. They think about roles, not skills
We often think about company talent in terms of individual employees and the roles they occupy, when really, we should look at the bigger picture, i.e. the wider set of skills that we’ve already invested in through our people.
Suddenly, we start to notice skills we didn’t spot before, e.g. the HR executive with a background in design, the Social Media Manager who worked on a huge public relations project in a previous role. By doing this, we create more opportunities to fill roles internally, help our people grow and potentially retain some key employees in the process.
2. They leave employees out of the conversation
To make internal hiring work, we need to give employees the tools to understand their value, view the opportunities available to them and connect their skills to roles they’re interested in. And, of course, we need career conversations to be a two-way street - “Where do you want to go?” as opposed to “Here’s where I think you should go.”
Building an internal talent marketplace can really help put employees in the driver’s seat. Ideally, this should include a comprehensive directory of all roles in the organisation with associated people, skills and competencies, and an automated process for creating and approving applications. This is particularly powerful when paired with a career pathways tool like Frankli, which empowers employees to build their own career pathways with clear steps and milestones.
1. Fortune, ServiceNow shifted its talent strategy to internal hires in 2022—it filled 1,500 open positions with existing employees. 2. McKinsey, The Great Attrition is making hiring harder. Are you searching the right talent pools? 3. The Josh Bersin Company, Career Pathways: Building Tomorrow’s Workforce Today. 4. Gallup, What Companies Are Getting Wrong About Employee Development. 5. SHRM, Essential Elements of Employee Retention. 6. Oxford Economics and Unum, The Cost of Brain Drain. 6. Salesforce, 59% of US Workforce Reports Fewer Workplace Learning Opportunities Since Pandemic Began. 7. LinkedIn Learning, Building the agile future.