Driving employee engagement with internal mobility

As organisations consolidate their resources as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become increasingly important to do more with less. With furloughing and hiring freezes currently commonplace, many businesses have started looking inward to identify how best to use the talent already at their disposal.

Equally, the shift to remote working has accelerated digital transformation plans that have been in the pipeline for years. As workers have been asked to rapidly adapt to new circumstances and technologies, the conversations around employee engagement and reskilling the workforce have moved to the fore.

Against such a backdrop, getting internal mobility right has arguably never been more important.

At its core, internal mobility is a strategy that enables organisations to nurture and retain key talent by matching employees with internal opportunities in which they can optimise their skillsets, helping both the employee and the business grow.

Benefits of such a strategy are vast, but perhaps the most important is double-sided: internal mobility improves employee engagement and, in the process, grows the bottom line.

Companies that are able to put in place a mobility programme that works are going to definitely be able to adapt to change much quicker

“Companies that are able to put in place a mobility programme that works are going to definitely be able to adapt to change much quicker,” says Agustin Donati, director of product marketing at human capital management software business Avature. “Those that do will be in much better shape because they’re going to have the key resources in the right places at the right time.”

Where to start

Ascertaining the lay of the land is critical. Human resources directors should review existing internal mobility programmes, starting with the elements that have worked previously, and identifying those that require an overhaul.

As part of this review, HR professionals must consider how well they know their workforce. What are their employees’ skills and strengths? How do they perform? Which elements of their role do they most value and why? What are their career aspirations?

The effectiveness of internal mobility technology is determined by the accuracy of this employee information, so it is imperative HR professionals support line managers in gathering as much qualitative data as possible about their team members’ skillsets and job requirements, as well as future career goals.

This data can be gathered through multiple touchpoints, including employee surveys, regular virtual check-ins between managers and employees, and via job portals, all of which can uncover vital insights into workforce sentiment.

These insights can help businesses better engage employees and tailor development opportunities. LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report found that 94 per cent of employees would stay at an organisation longer if it actively invested in their careers, while a recent survey by The Harris Poll found a lack of career progression is one of the biggest reasons employees quit their jobs.

Internal mobility is an ideal avenue through which to engage and retain talent, granting access to new opportunities across job roles, projects, programmes and short-term gigs, which is vital during the current period of disruption and rapid change.

“We had seen many of our customers focusing on internal mobility even before COVID-19, because companies were starting to see mobility as an asset that would foster career development within the company, as well as attracting key talent to stay in the company for longer. But now with COVID this has changed from being just a nice to have to a must have,” says Donati.

It is, therefore, critical that employers review their systems and processes, particularly those with legacy applicant tracking and talent management systems, which Donati says have so far struggled to efficiently match employee skillsets with ongoing opportunities, including new job roles and temporary projects, and subsequently negatively impacted employee engagement.

“Technology created not only a barrier but a black hole,” says Donati. “The company was throwing jobs into the black hole and employees were doing the same with their interests and career aspirations, all because the two were not being matched.”

Unlocking mobility with technology

Employers need to assess the ease with which existing employees can change jobs and find other opportunities within their organisation. For example, where can they find information about relevant opportunities within the business? Who are the key points of contact for each role? What is the process for applying for a new opportunity?

“The right technology will allow the company to engage and communicate with its employees, and allow them to provide transparency and visibility,” explains Donati, who cites L’Oréal as a business doing things right.

Employee surveys and exit interviews conducted by L’Oréal revealed 50 per cent of employees wanted more visibility into career opportunities within the organisation, while 56 per cent of former employees who regretted leaving the business identified a lack of visibility into career choices as a key factor behind their departure.

Taking input from global HR leaders across the business, L’Oréal launched its POP (Positions Open Portal) in August 2018 across 70 countries, which is an Avature-built platform that offers employees greater visibility and agency around internal opportunities.

The results, says Donati, speak for themselves. L’Oréal now posts 81 per cent of job openings internally in the first instance, with three quarters of those posted on the career site filled by existing employees. The business has seen a 40 per cent increase in the number of roles filled by internal candidates against external applicants, ensuring those entering new roles are already a proven cultural fit, reducing onboarding costs and the likelihood of future attrition.

Walk don’t run

Yet HR professionals must be mindful of the challenges involved in creating a successful internal mobility strategy.

These include securing buy-in from their executive board for an ongoing commitment to internal mobility, whether in the form of an organisation-wide programme or ad hoc mobility projects involving short-term resourcing, because the strengths and aspirations of employees change over time, much like the strengths and demands of a business.

“Now is a good time to get alignment on what the company needs and its vision, and what the employees need and their vision. That’s why communication and an engagement strategy is key,” says Donati.

Organisations of all sizes need to consider that employee engagement is likely to look a lot different in the “new normal”. Ongoing, meaningful communication with employees is more important than ever and savvy people leaders are taking a proactive approach to internal mobility, placing this critical strategy at the top of their agenda.

For more information please visit www.avature.net/internal-mobility