How to Prepare Your Team for Internal Mobility

Learn about the 3 top benefits of internal mobility, and 4 things you as a manager can do to encourage internal mobility.

3 colleagues having discussion

3 Top Benefits of Internal Mobility and 4 Tips for Managers to Encourage Internal Mobility

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the labor market. Although confidence is slowly coming back due to falling infections and pandemic relief money from the government, economists expect it will take several years for the job market to fully recover. In light of these uncertain times, many organizations have implemented hiring freezes while they wait and see how the economic recovery will unfold in the near future. 

If you are a manager who needs to fill in skills gaps in your team but is facing a recruitment freeze, now is a great time to look at the talent available at your organization and consider whether internal mobility could help meet your needs.

What is internal mobility?

So, what is internal mobility? It simply means an employee moving to another job within the same organization. The employee may move vertically to a more senior position or horizontally to a different team or job role.

Employees around the world are already engaged in internal mobility. According to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report, 31% of learners in the US have already spent time learning to help them find new opportunities and perform a different function within their organizations.

91% of managers are on board, saying that they would support their direct reports in finding different roles within their organization.

We can glean two key insights from these enlightening findings:

1. The overwhelming majority of managers are supportive of their team moving to different jobs within their organizations because they recognize the benefits of internal mobility to both employees and the business.

2. Less than a third of learners are engaged in upskilling or reskilling to find new opportunities internally. More can be done to encourage internal mobility.

Read on to find out more about the 3 benefits of internal mobility, and the 4 things you as a manager can do to encourage internal mobility.

What are the benefits of internal mobility?

Building an organizational culture that encourages internal mobility will benefit both employees and the company itself in the following ways.

Benefit #1. Increase employee retention

LinkedIn’s report finds that employees in companies with high internal mobility stay almost two times longer than those who don’t. On average, employees in companies with low internal mobility stay 2.9 years while those in companies with high mobility stay 5.4 years.

This matters because current employees have an understanding of the organizational culture, internal workings and existing relationships - all of which will take time for new external hires to learn and develop. It also takes longer to hire and train an external hire than an internal recruit.

Benefit #2. Increase employee engagement

According to LinkedIn’s report, employees who have found new positions within their companies are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged than those who haven’t.

This benefits companies because more engaged employees means more motivated and productive employees. Employees also benefit because higher engagement leads to better performance and quicker career progression.

In addition, LinkedIn’s data suggests that engaged employees are more likely to participate in internal mobility programs - leading to a win-win for the learners and your organization.

Benefit #3. Create a renewable pool of talent

An internal mobility program allows managers to shift talent around internally. This allows you to fill skill gaps while reducing the need to engage in the more time-consuming and expensive process of hiring externally.

Internal mobility programs also help you to future-proof your workforce. Due to technological advances or economic changes, some employees could find themselves in roles that no longer create value for your organization.

If employees can build the skills to move to another role internally, not only will they be able to continue to thrive in their careers, your organization will create a renewable pool of talent that can be reskilled for changing business needs.

How can you prepare your team members for internal mobility?

If, like the 91% of managers who are supportive of their team finding new opportunities internally, you are convinced of the benefits of internal mobility, here are 4 tips to help your team prepare for internal mobility.

Tip #1. Support a culture of internal mobility

If your company has an internal mobility program, support the program by ensuring that your team members are aware of the relevant policies. If there isn’t a well-developed internal mobility program in your company, you can work with other managers and talent developers (for example in human resources) to build structured processes that support internal mobility.

One of the first things you can do is audit the skills you have in your team. You can then pool those skills with the skills of other teams and create an internal talent marketplace. 

While doing the skills audit, it is important to bear in mind that the people who can easily move from one role to another are not only those with skills adjacencies, or skills that are similar to other skills. 

A LinkedIn analysis for the World Economic Forum found that half of those who moved into data science and artificial intelligence professions were from unrelated occupations. This figure rises to 67% for engineering roles, 72% for content roles and 75% for sales.

This tells us that people are capable of learning entirely new skills, and that learning will be absolutely key given the rate of technological change and the increasingly urgent need to retrain talent for the world of work.

Tip #2. Help employees move toward their career goals

You may think that you are already supportive of your team’s career goals. However, it is good to take stock and see if your perception matches that of your team’s. LinkedIn’s report finds that only 40% of learners say that their managers are challenging them to learn a new skill while a slightly higher percentage of 53% say that their managers support their career goals.

If you aren’t already doing so, you should actively ask your team about their career goals, and then work with them to identify projects and tasks that will help them advance towards their career aspirations. This will often involve training and learning to build their skills so you’ll need to incorporate a learning plan into their career goals.

Tip #3. Continuous support e.g. coaching and mentoring

Even when career goals are understood and you have made plans with your direct reports on how to progress toward their goals, continuous discussion and support will help employees work toward their goals.

This could be in the form of regular meetings to discuss their career progression. Or it could be in the form of coaching and mentoring sessions. The mentor could be the team’s direct manager or he/she could be another senior manager who is exclusively responsible for the employee’s professional development.

Participating in coaching programs with mentors that focus on employees’ professional development will help employees feel more valued and become more engaged and loyal to the company. 

If you want to become a coach or mentor for your team or other team members, search for coaching courses here and learn how to empower others.

Tip #4. Encourage a commitment to career development

By giving employees the tools and information to grow their careers, you will encourage your team to be accountable for their own career growth. 

You can encourage your team members to schedule time to build their skills and focus on their development and goals. Your role is to give them access to the information on available opportunities for example in the form of an internal job board or a career planning system. Employees should be able to see the skill gaps for the job opportunities they want, and identify a learning plan or a mentor to help them bridge the gaps so they can reach the next step in their career. 

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About the Author

Carol Pang is a Digital Content Editor for Prior to this, she has 12 years of experience in the corporate and financial sectors.

She believes that people are fundamental to an organization’s success, and that effective training can create a motivated and engaged workforce.