New Research: The New Era of Internal Mobility

The past three years accelerated the demand for internal mobility solutions. The movement of talent into new positions is not a new trend. Companies have been hyper-focused on internal mobility and career progression at various times periods of uncertainty. For many companies, internal mobility offers the perfect panacea to challenges facing both recruitment and retention by bridging the candidate and employee experiences and reducing turnover.

We launched a new study on internal mobility this year. And, despite this increased focus on internal mobility over the past few years, only one in four companies are confident with their strategies moving forward and 77% have lost talent due to a lack of career development opportunities. Many organizations have adopted a superficial approach to internal mobility by promoting jobs through internal career sites without offering individuals opportunities and development. For other companies, lack of ownership creates barriers for implementing programs and technology.

Fortunately, some companies are turning to skills-based internal mobility and prioritizing how they reskill and upskill their workforce to adapt to the future of work. They are empowering employees, leveraging technology, and encouraging collaboration across multiple stakeholders. A skills-based approach to internal mobility can help connect talent to the right opportunities, personalize the experience, and continuously update with every interaction. It transforms internal mobility from an employer-led initiative to a talent-first strategy.

As companies look to 2023, internal mobility needs to be more than a rally cry. It needs to be a clearly defined strategic investment that is less about moving an individual from job A to job B and more about driving value for the employee.

Here are some of the key findings from our latest study in partnership with Workday.

Metrics that matter: Companies need to consider a new set of metrics for measuring the success of internal mobility. Metrics should incentivize managers and recruiters to provide growth and opportunities for employees while supporting broader DEI and company objectives.

Internal mobility needs to be talent first: Current internal mobility strategies require employees to do most of the work to find their next opportunities for development. Companies promote jobs and employees are left on their own to find what might be next. The next era of internal mobility must make it simple for employees to understand their opportunities and develop the skills they need to be successful.

Internal mobility must empower hiring teams: One in two recruiters are feeling burned out this year and hiring teams are feeling additional pressure to find quality talent quickly. Internal mobility must be talent first, but it also must empower hiring teams by lifting the administrative burden and making it easier to find talent.

Internal mobility must provide personalization: Most companies are not personalizing internal mobility. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of internal candidates go through the same process as external candidates. Internal candidates are treated like strangers to their employer and often do not receive a response.

Internal mobility is most successful when it involves multiple stakeholders: Nearly 50% of companies stated that leadership and CHROs are either owning or directly responsible for internal mobility efforts. They are driving these initiatives and looking to work closely with key stakeholders and creating opportunities for employees.

Skills are a priority: According to this study, 82% of companies identified skills as a priority. Companies are increasing their investment in skills this year and the number one driver is to provide more career development opportunities for talent.


Countdown to HRTech: Internal Mobility

Internal mobility is the next topic for my blog series in the Countdown to the HR Technology Conference. Internal mobility is a strategic priority for any company looking to recruit better, engage, and retain talent. According to Aptitude Research, 70% of companies have increased their investment in internal mobility compared to 58% of companies in 2020. And, 1 in 2 companies has increased the number of internal hires this year.

The movement of talent into different positions is not new. Companies have been hyper-focused on internal mobility and career progression during various periods of uncertainty. Internal mobility becomes the go-to strategy when hiring slows down or turnover spikes. But today, companies have adjusted their responsibilities, strategies, and technology. Internal mobility is no longer an isolated activity or a quick fix during a time of transition. It is a critical part of any talent strategy and the intersection between talent acquisition and employee experience.

But, most internal mobility programs fail before they begin. Many companies rely on traditional methods of moving employees across their organization without providing a fair, equitable, and personalized experience. So, internal candidates are treated like strangers. We found that:

  • Only 1 in 2 companies personalize feedback and learning opportunities for internal candidates
  • 55% of internal candidates go through the same interview process as external candidates
  • Only 26% of companies personalize communication with internal candidates

How is Technology Improving Internal Mobility?

Fortunately, the technology landscape to support internal mobility has improved over the past few years. Companies are thinking beyond internal career sites and finding meaningful ways to empower employees. And skills are driving this new approach. Every single provider in this industry seems to be talking about internal mobility. Here are a few providers I have been impressed with this year (in alphabetical order):

  • Beamery: Beamery’s acquisition of Flux earlier this year strengthens its internal mobility capabilities and provides a talent marketplace for internal, external, and contingent talent.
  • Clickboarding: Companies must consider cross-boarding and the intersection of internal mobility and onboarding. Clickboarding provides improved experiences for both new hires and career transitions.
  • Eightfold: Eightfold’s AI-driven talent intelligence platform and skills-based approach gives employees internal career paths to help them reach their goals.
  • Gloat: Gloat’s talent marketplace connects employers with internal and external talent.
  • HiredScore:  Hiredscore looks at all talent options from the ATS, CRM, employees, VMS, and connected external databases to find the fairest slate for each role.
  • PageUp People: PageUp provides capabilities for both promoting internal jobs and personalizing experiences as well as developing employees through skills profiles and communication.
  • Paradox: Paradox’s use cases are expanding to internal mobility and employee experience. It provides employees simple, friendly, and immediate opportunities to learn about career paths and develop the right skills.
  • Phenom: Phenom’s employee experience platform helps employees identify their unique career paths based on their experiences, skills, and goals
  • Worqdrive: Worqdrive is a stand-alone internal mobility provider designed to improve the experience for both employees and recruiting teams.
  • Workday: Workday’s skills-based approach and talent marketplace help companies find the best talent and empower employees to manage their careers.

What are the Key Findings of the Research?

  1. Companies Must Do the Work: Companies should start with their processes, culture, and communication before investing in technology. With both core HR systems and best-of-breed talent acquisition providers offering advanced capabilities, it is tempting for companies to turn to technology before evaluating their own strategies. However, nearly 50% of companies stated that managers make it difficult to support internal mobility. This frustration is a cultural and process-driven challenge rather than a technology challenge.
  2. Internal Candidates Are Treated Like Strangers: Most companies are not personalizing the experience for internal talent. As a result, internal candidates are treated like strangers to their employers and often do not receive a response. Only 26% of companies personalize communication to internal candidates, and 55% of internal candidates go through the same interview process as external candidates. Companies that do not provide a personalized experience for internal candidates risk losing them completely if they do not receive the job.
  1. Companies Have Better Technology Options Today: The technology landscape for internal mobility has become crowded and complex. Only one in two companies are satisfied with the technology they use to support internal mobility. Fortunately, companies have better options to engage internal talent and provide growth opportunities. Companies adopting a skills-based approach should consider providers with robust skill frameworks and AI capabilities that infer skills beyond what is found on a profile.
  1. Ownership Is a Challenge: One in four companies stated that talent acquisition does not want responsibility for internal mobility. It often feels like more work with less direction and reward. Companies must shift the narrative around internal mobility and empower TA leaders with the necessary resources while incentivizing recruiting teams to hire internal and external talent. One company that we interviewed created a role in TA (internal recruiter) and a role in HR (Internal Career Support) to collaborate on internal mobility from both perspectives.
  1. Internal Mobility impacts Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Eighty-five percent (85%) of companies stated that DEI is impacted by internal mobility. Companies have an opportunity to provide fair and equitable experiences for all employees with a strategic internal mobility approach. Yet, for companies that do not have a diverse workforce, internal mobility will not improve DEI. When internal mobility is incorporated into talent acquisition efforts, companies have greater visibility of DEI initiatives. 

Internal mobility has been a big focus of our research over the past year. I am excited to share these findings next month at HR Tech!