What is talent mobility?

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By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat

Why talent mobility is the secret to a productive, flexible, and happy workforce.

As workforce turnover continues to surge and companies struggle to retain talent, business leaders are emphasizing the employee experience—better training, better benefits, and better support.

Unfortunately, talent mobility is lacking in many companies. Employees often feel like it is difficult or even impossible to change positions at their current organization; 80% of workers do not think their current employer offers growth opportunities. As this trend gains momentum, employers must act quickly to give employees a reason to stay.

If you’re aiming to boost retention and engagement by putting your people at the helm of their careers, talent mobility needs to become one of your top priorities. Both your people and your business will benefit from a talent mobility strategy that empowers employees to achieve their full potential.

What is talent mobility?

Talent mobility describes an employee’s ability to move between positions within their company. Encouraging mobility is a key element of good talent management, which encompasses recruitment, hiring, training, and workforce planning.

The goal of talent mobility is to better align the skills, motivations, and backgrounds of your workforce with the needs of your company and the interests of your employees. This allows leaders to simultaneously retain and develop talent by encouraging employees to expand their skillsets and broaden their horizons. Given the high turnover rates of today’s workforce, a robust talent mobility program can also save your company the steep costs, both direct and indirect, of losing those employees looking for new professional experiences.

How to develop a strategic approach to talent mobility

Now that moving between companies and searching for jobs is easier than ever, internal recruiting needs to evolve to keep pace. With the right approach, talent mobility can boost engagement and retention rates, and ensure that workforces are prepared for their next chapter. However, many of today’s talent mobility initiatives are missing the mark.

Getting talent mobility right requires a strong understanding of your employees’ needs and priorities, as well as efforts that exceed the attention that your business devotes to external recruiting. Talent mobility best practices also include developing a company-wide culture of transparency, so that employees can understand what kinds of opportunities will be available to them in the future. To maximize visibility, organizations are increasingly turning to talent marketplaces and investing in workforce intelligence—two critical tools to engage and manage employee development.

3 benefits of leveraging talent mobility

Upgrading your approach to talent management can pay off in 3 ways:

Reduction in turnover costs

The most measurable benefit of investing in internal talent mobility is a decrease in turnover rates. When employees leave a company, that company doesn’t just pay for the cost of hiring a replacement. They must also shoulder the lost productivity, connections, and knowledge of the departing employee. A talent mobility strategy can greatly reduce these costs: a recent LinkedIn study showed that such an initiative would encourage 41% of employees to stay longer at their current job.

Better employee engagement

Retaining and developing top talent means consistently providing them with new options for growth and advancement. Ignoring them is a major risk: disengaged employees cost companies roughly $500 billion globally. But when employees see that their organizations are investing in their professional development, they will be inspired to reach their full potential.

Since talent marketplaces use real-time data to generate suggestions for career development, leaders can feel confident that the opportunities that their workforces are presented with will remain relevant, even as their employees change.

As a result, there’s no risk that engagement will fall flat because employees will always have a new goal to work towards. Management will also gain a better understanding of the kinds of opportunities that their people wish to pursue and how these ambitions intersect with their business priorities.

Overall improvement to productivity and satisfaction

Prioritizing internal hiring can significantly cut the amount of onboarding time required by a new hire, especially in crucial leadership positions. On top of the time lost to onboard talent—nearly two years to reach the level of an internal hire, according to Deloitte—internal hires routinely outperform external hires.

Using talent mobility and workforce intelligence to create an internal leadership pipeline

When important—and often high-paying—leadership roles open up, recruiters often look to external candidates and spend significant amounts of time and money recruiting them. For companies that create internal leadership pipelines through talent mobility programs, these hiring processes are less costly and less risky.

Employees who have access to ongoing training experiences and hands-on learning opportunities will be better equipped to take on new responsibilities and eventually move into leadership roles. Talent marketplace offerings like career pathing enable employees to work towards their long-term professional goals by pinpointing the skills gaps that they will need to bridge and the learning opportunities that they can pursue to get up to speed.

But to begin making smarter internal hires, you need to understand what skills exist within your company. Workforce intelligence is the quantification of all the skills, interests, and experiences an employee has along with the jobs, tasks, and projects a company needs to perform business functions. By combining workforce intelligence with a talent marketplace, organizations can be better suited to promote internally and create an environment that strengthens employees—not ignores them.

If you want to set your organization up for success in the new world of work and retain the talent you’ll need to outpace the competition, talent mobility deserves a spot at the top of your priority list. To learn more about how you can empower your employees to take their next professional steps with your organization, check out our guide on unlocking career agility.

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