Companies are facing adversity: a high rate of change in the landscape and in what “work” looks like from week to week, from geo to geo. Adapting in real time means difficult people decisions daily – whether that’s deploying infrastructure to support remote work, to deciding which part of the organizations may be furloughed. Amidst choppy waters, leaders also have to think of the future: what will the organization need to look like to align people to new strategies in the upcoming months? Internal hiring, and internal mobility as an initiative, is gaining traction amidst these times of (seemingly endless) transitions.

What is internal mobility?

Internal mobility refers to employees changing roles within an organization. The concept is not new, but it’s increasingly coming to the forefront of leaders’ strategic considerations.

It is the key to bridging the obvious talent gap between high-skill jobs and the right talent. It’s also alluring because time to productivity is lower in internal movements, and total cost of “hire” is dramatically lower, and require 25-50% less interviewing time.

Why is internal mobility important?

Employers who unlock their talent and adapt to changes in the environment benefit from reduced hiring costs, accelerated ramp times, and reduced attrition in high performers. Beyond the significant cost savings, employee engagement is higher in companies facilitating internal mobility. In large employers (more than 10,000 employees), employee mobility means maximizing the company’s investment in talent, as significant training and assimilation to current processes are barriers removed when changing roles internally.

Employers Need It, Employees Want It

In PwC’s Nurturing Agility and Adaptibility report, PwC highlights that:

Employees themselves are pushing for continuous learning and development opportunities. For companies hiring younger employees, the ability to learn and progress is now a key employment criterion and a factor in their own brand building.

But internal mobility is not just a way to retain talent. It also helps to create a powerful magnet for people outside your organization who seek professional growth. Leaders, as they are challenged with meeting demands with shrinking budgets, will find opportunity in growth-seeking employee categories.

What are the hurdles preventing internal mobility?

At a high level, most companies realize that there is tremendous opportunity in hiring internally – it breaks down in how that translates concretely. According to the Deloitte’s “Hidden Talent in Mobility”, internal discovery of candidates is a major hurdle:

Large companies employ tens of thousands of people across geographies, industries, and functions. Yet it’s not unusual for recruiters to be completely unaware that the best candidate for a position may already work inside the organization.

That’s not the only factor; in many companies, recruiters are discouraged from reaching out internally to fill a role. That brings us to the two key breakdowns in unlocking that potential:

  • Culture that may prevent it
  • Structural hurdles

This is made worse by the risk of brain drain in cultures where internal mobility is hard or outright impossible. Just like companies have easier access to information and availability on external candidates, the corollary is true for a company’s own employees: they have more access to external opportunities than internal ones. This means that leaders are confronted with two layers of loss – loss of its best performing employees, and the loss of opportunity in filling these roles with employees whom the company already invested in and who know the culture, the processes, the systems and the ecosystem in their current role.

How do you increase internal mobility?

In order to lead in talent, HR teams will need a two-pronged approach.

First, The most rudimentary level of fix is to publish an internal job board. Unfortunately, this barebones approach only tackles part of the infrastructural challenge – as business leaders now have to look to two disjointed sources of information to access talent pools, and still get more information about external candidates than internal ones. The next degree of fix is to use a platform, such as a Fit-to-Role platform, to view external and internal talent pools in one view for a given job.

Second is the cultural element. That’s often tougher to solve particularly when talent acquisition as a function isn’t included in the internal mobility conversation, or when multiple levels of managements are weary of the limited information they have on internal employees to make a decision on a critical role for their teams. A first level of fix is to conduct management training, and to ask talent acquisition to present active candidates in one centralized manner such as email. This is often impractical as talent acquisition teams are spread thin and information isn’t equally available for both categories of candidates. That’s where a Fit-to-Role platform separates the high performing organizations from the rest. The ability for both HR and business leaders to understand the behaviors driving performance and see internal talent pools against that profile is critical to the success of internal mobility as an initiative.

Organizations that excel at talent management and acquisition don’t seek out internal candidates merely to improve engagement and retention rates—although that’s usually a happy side effect, as on-the-job development opportunities such as lateral moves and stretch assignments can increase engagement by up to 30 percent.

Key metrics in internal mobility

  • Internal Movement Rate. IMR indicates the percentage of the workforce that has moved internally during the period. Internal movements are those resulting from employees’ internal job changes within the organisation, whether through actions of transfer, promotion or demotion.
  • Average Fit-to-Role %. The average % of fit for candidates, internal or external, to the role, from a behavioral standpoint.
  • Time to full productivity. This can vary by position, but in customer-facing roles, business metrics are available, such as quota attainment or NPS. This TTP will average lower as IMR increases.


How to: Fit-to-Role Platform

To see how a Fit-to-Role platform can empower your organization’s internal mobility initiative, get a quick 15 minute demo.