At some point, all of your workers will look for new opportunities inside and outside the business. For most businesses, internal movement can be very effective. Allowing your workers to move into new roles, or parts of the business, brings fresh ideas and perspectives.
But not all provide the infrastructure to enable this. Where workers can’t easily move laterally or upwards – they look externally. Resulting in lower retention rates, increased costs and longer lead times for businesses, associated with recruiting in-demand skills and talent.
The cost of attrition
Research shows that it can cost 150% of an employee’s salary to replace them. Especially for high-demand roles or with workers who have competitive levels of experience and knowledge.
Improving retention should be a priority throughout the year, but particularly at certain times when workers are more likely to look for other employment options. After gaining a new qualification or post-holiday, workers may look for new opportunities. If none are available internally this is often when attrition will spike as people take time to reflect on their career and look for their next move. One way to minimize turnover in these high-risk periods is through improving your internal mobility.
Improving retention through internal mobility
Creating a successful infrastructure to allow internal mobility retains critical talent, builds skills, and fosters loyalty. New career challenges or growth opportunities inside the organisation prevents them from looking elsewhere. Which is particularly vital now that we’re at the start of another industrial revolution in the midst of technological advancements, artificial intelligence, market volatility, political uncertainty, and widespread job displacement.
Another key aspect of successful mobility infrastructure is a skill inventory. If organisations aren’t cataloguing and documenting what skills the workforce has, it cannot help its workers, at least not most efficiently, with their next opportunity. Knowing where there are gaps, and strengths, will help leaders make better people and time investments.
Lateral job moves
However, improving internal mobility structurally doesn’t simply mean promoting all workers. Lateral job moves can be as challenging and as beneficial as a promotion. Workers can move into other departments and be mobilised onto alternative projects. This approach works exceptionally well with workers who have interests in other business areas. For example, a project manager with marketing experience looking for a career change.
And research shows that workers are increasingly seeking such opportunities. In fact, 64% of UK employees see secondments and stretch assignments as important workplace incentives. It’s something that’s sparked the interest of many global organisations; L’Oreal, for example, has a programme with Founders Factory in which workers can choose to work on passion projects. TJX— the parent company of TK Maxx— offers regular rotations across various business units to improve its workers’ experiences and perspectives. One worker in the company moved from the position of a store assistant to a secondment in the L&D (learning and development) department before ultimately filling a marketing position.
Building an agile workforce
Offering workers opportunities allows them to develop their skills, expand their careers and in-turn encourages them to look for new projects and roles internally. Combined with learning opportunities and experiences that match mobility goals enables your organisation to build a smart, agile workforce that can quickly respond to market changes and new technology. Through looking at your internal mobility strategy through a Total Talent lens, you’ll increase the opportunities that you can offer your workers – irrelevant of their worker status.
Start with skills
Skills are the building blocks of your people’s capability. To achieve this level of talent agility, you must first put your workers at the centre of your strategy – looking at what work they want to do, what their career goals are, what skills they need and how they fit in with the wider organisation. In short, skills are the signal or indicator of your employees’ capabilities. Find the common ground where an L&D programme, new role, project, or stretch assignment can build skills in a way that fulfils your workers’ career aspirations while also meeting your business goals.
The new work
Make no mistake, the changing nature of work requires a transformation in how you manage, retain, and upskill your talent. By adopting the strategies outlined above, your organisation can retain more of its workers and ensure everyone feels challenged and fulfilled by their work.
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