Internal mobility programs

Internal Mobility Programs: The Key to Retention?

In response to the Great Resignation, employers everywhere are reevaluating their talent strategies. As part of this process, they’re seeking cost-effective ways to retain employees who are craving growth opportunities in today’s uncertain economy. That is why internal mobility programs are gaining momentum.

This article looks at why internal mobility is a smart talent strategy. Through the experience of several HR professionals who have launched and led internal mobility programs, we focus on how to develop a successful initiative while avoiding mistakes along the way.

The Benefits of Internal Talent Mobility

Why prioritize mobility—especially during a recession, when budget and resources are often more limited? There are multiple reasons. For example, these programs can help you:

1) Demonstrate Commitment to Your Workforce

Ginny Clarke is the Founder and CEO of Ginny Clarke, LLC. She previously worked at Google as Director of Leadership Internal Mobility. Clarke says internal mobility programs are a highly effective way to show you care and are invested in developing your organization’s top talent.

“This directly correlates with the level of employee engagement and willingness to stay and perform well,” Clarke notes. “It is also a way to give people valuable tools they can take wherever they go.” As a result, this kind of effort can build your brand, even after employees leave the company.

2) Upskill With the Future in Mind

LaRae James, Director of Human Resources for the City of Pearland, Texas, says that as roles evolve, organizations must upskill employees so they’re prepared for future opportunities. This is particularly important in a strong labor market. As LaRae notes, “Finding good talent is a challenge, so retention is vital for a sustainable workforce.”

She adds, “Developing employees results in a higher-performing organization and builds bench strength for internal mobility and succession planning.” In other words, your organization can never be too prepared for economic uncertainty.

3) Support Your Retention Goals

Angela-Cheng-Cimini, Senior Vice President of Talent and Chief Human Resources Officer at Harvard Business Publishing (HBP), emphasizes that “Career mobility is no longer in a black box. It is based on known expectations.” This kind of clarity means employees and managers can more confidently identify growth opportunities and work together toward the future.

City of Pearland’s James agrees. She says many organizations are creative about how they attract candidates, yet they don’t put the same kind of effort into retaining existing employees. This is why she recommends considering what the employee experience would look like if your organization approached its overall people strategy more creatively.

Building an Internal Mobility Program

To develop a recession-proof talent strategy, James says it is important to understand what motivates people to stay on board. Direct feedback tools help.

For example, her organization recently learned that when employees want to advance their careers, they tend to think of leaving, rather than exploring internal mobility options. The team used this insight to implement a series of events that help employees learn about various roles across the organization. They also provided career development and interview preparation courses.

Other organizations also use employee feedback to inform mobility program development. For example, HBP recently launched a robust career pathing framework. This is a response to exit interviews that revealed a lack of career advancement was the most common reason employees sought outside opportunities. HPB’s frameworks are designed to establish universal criteria for movement across the organization. “The system is grounded in core, leadership, and technical competencies,” Cheng-Cimini says.

Today, HPB offers more than 20 ladders. This provides full visibility into the skills employees need for success. It also lets them design their own paths based on their interests and strengths. As a result, “employees can now see beyond the role they currently occupy. Also, with their manager, they can plan for the experiences and skills they want to build.”

But what if your organization is just starting to build a program? Clarke thinks it’s wise to start small, even with only one business unit or with your most senior employees. She recommends focusing first on helping participants assess their capabilities and competencies. Then help them build a narrative that transcends past roles and responsibilities. She suggests that some of these steps can be scaled through online instruction, rather than relying solely on one-on-one coaching.

Internal Mobility Mistakes to Avoid

What missteps should you avoid when building and managing an internal mobility program?

1) Don’t give employees false hope

When sharing open roles, it is important not to misrepresent these opportunities. Clarke cautions, “There are no guarantees participants will get roles they are considered for.” Be intentional and transparent in how you market the program. For example, be sure to make employees aware that external candidates are also likely to be considered for opportunities. This context can help soften the disappointment employees feel if they are bypassed for desired assignments.

2) Avoid playing favorites

Internal mobility shouldn’t be a popularity contest. Clarke says it’s particularly important not to favor any particular type of person. Instead, she recommends a three-point strategy:

  • Take time to review those identified as ‘top talent’ to ensure broad representation.
  • Triangulate these recommendations with performance reviews, 360-degree feedback, and other endorsements.
  • Incentivize leaders to perform thoughtful talent reviews so you can identify top talent continuously and confidently.

3) Let go of seriously weak links

Don’t keep talent for the sake of ease. Clarke advises employers to proactively question the rationale for retaining some people. “If they are toxic or otherwise don’t represent company values, don’t fall into the trap of wanting to retain their intellectual capital, domain expertise, or a brand name at the expense of poor morale with the rest of their team.”

4) Don’t bite off more than you can chew

On a final note, you may be tempted to overthink this challenge. Although it makes sense to tailor mobility to your organization’s talent strategy, infrastructure, and employee needs, getting started is key. If necessary, focus first on small, achievable steps. Then build on those early wins.

Onboarding and Retention

How to Up Your Onboarding and Retention Game

How do you up your employee onboarding and retention game amid (yes, it is true) The Great Resignation? The onboarding process often goes overlooked until it’s too late. But with a strong process in place, you can set up new hires for success from day one.

In fact, Glassdoor research says organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by as much as 82% and productivity by 70%. Those are big numbers. And in today’s tight talent market, they make onboarding hard to ignore.

So, how can employers make sure onboarding efforts are up to snuff?

Our Guest:  Laura Lee Gentry

On this latest episode of the #WorkTrends podcast, I speak with Laura Lee Gentry, Chief People Officer at Enboarder. At Enboarder, Laura Lee is responsible for talent acquisition and onboarding, total rewards, talent management, leadership development, internal communications, and employer branding.

Let’s talk about onboarding and retention. Why is it so challenging these days? And why does there seem to be a disconnect between candidate experience and employee experience, Laura Lee?

“It’s about communication and perception. The things that aren’t said can lead to a disconnect between expectations and the reality of a new job. Being less than explicit can create the wrong interpretations. Hiring managers and recruiters need to be transparent about the company and the opportunity. They also need to be super clear that business needs might call for a pivot to avoid the whole like, ‘Well, that’s not my job’  conversation.”

Focusing on Retention

It’s clear we need to rethink hiring strategies and focus on retention…

“It’s interesting that people are following the market as opposed to getting out in front of it. For example, recruiting versus retention. It costs a lot more money to hire a new employee rather than retain your best talent. It costs between 50 and 150% of an employee’s salary to replace them. Beyond the cost of losing and replacing an employee, you’ve got all sorts of additional costs, like productivity and team morale. It can even impact revenue if it’s in a revenue-generating function.”

Managing The Great Resignation Challenges

As companies shift focus from hiring to retention, they need a true employer brand. For a company to build an employer brand based on integrity, it’s important to focus on offering a fantastic experience across the entire employee journey. This helps people become more passionate and engaged in their work.

What are HR leaders investing in right now to address hiring and retention challenges during The Great Resignation?

“A lot of HR leaders are turning to technology to support their hiring, onboarding, and employee engagement needs. Trying to not only create a more high-impact experience but also to increase the impact of their HR teams without adding headcount.”

Beyond Onboarding

Onboarding never really stops. Companies must deliver great experiences in the initial onboarding phase and beyond—throughout the employee journey…

“If you think about an employee’s career journey with a company, there are many opportunities around what I call defining moments, focusing on any moment of transition. There are peaks and pits, but also beginnings and endings. We all remember the first and last day of school, the first day of a new job. These are all defining moments or moments of transition, which is why they’re so memorable.”

How can we turn defining moments for employees into absolute peak experiences?

“Transitions inherently carry an element of risk and uncertainty. So they’re often the moments when employees feel the most vulnerable, which is why they’re so powerful. Leaders have the power to turn someone’s defining moments into positive defining moments with the right training, development, and understanding of what best practices look like in those moments.”

Excellent advice from Laura Lee Gentry!

I hope you found this #WorkTrends podcast episode helpful. To learn more about effective onboarding and retention, and how to improve the impact of your people programs, visit Enboarder at:  https://enboarder.com/.

Also, subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. And be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, too, for more great conversations!

 

performance

To Boost Retention – Review for Projects, Not Performance

If you’re ramping up for Q4 in your workplace, you may be anticipating a slew of quarterly performance reviews. It’s your manager’s last chance of the year to address recent performance issues, map out a plan for improvement, and set a goal for what’s next year.  

But if you’re concerned with retention, you may want to reconsider. Performance reviews, depending on how they’re done, may not have the right tone to fit the turbulent world of work we’re in right now. They may not support your engagement and retention challenges. Employees are jumpy — and while feedback is always a good idea, it may all be in the delivery and the framework.  

What works instead? Take a project-based approach — in which feedback and reviews are based on specific projects rather than overall performance over time. It avoids focusing on trickier metrics like behavior and “commitment” and provides a picture of a given situation and a given challenge. And it creates a clear boundary between life and work at a time when many of our workforces are seeing those lines blur. The day-to-day of a given job may be filled with ebbs and flows that didn’t exist when performance review criteria was designed. Particularly in categories like “attitude,” “willingness,” or “energy.” But a project is a project: you get it done.

Projects and Teams are Already on the Rise

The world of work is already shifting to projects as an increment of production instead of focusing simply on time. A project-based approach to the workplace is already a reality for a growing number of organizations. Of course, there are industries that traditionally lend themselves to project-based cadences of work. Industries such as marketing, advertising and content, engineering, legal firms, consultancies, and other service providers. But even high-service industries can shift to projects — framing work into initiatives, special efforts, campaigns, and quotas.

Taking this approach can bring your people together as a team. And we’re seeing the rise of teams — Deloitte’s research on the power of high-performance teams to catalyze organizational growth is pretty compelling. We divide into teams to better structure communications channels within digital workplaces, to forge accountability, to better manage, and to create a unit we can rely on. Projects and teams go hand in hand: a team executes on a project, essentially — and may interact with other teams, but they have a specific role, specific tasks. That actually frees up a manager to track a whole lot more in terms of individual input and contributions, responsiveness, creativity, and the ability to work in a group — and as reflected in the outcome of the project they were a part of.

Anchored to Specific Targets

The uneasy truth may be that many organizations wonder if performance reviews are working, but don’t have an alternative. But this is the era of transformation — like it or not, we transformed where and when and how we work out of necessity. It’s a reality right now that employees are stressed — and a bit jumpy if you look at the Great Resignation. 

So consider the fact that just 14% of employees agree their performance review inspires them to improve, according to Gallup research. Further, traditional performance reviews and approaches to feedback can take a psychological toll —  actually making performance worse about one-third of the time, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. No one wants to unintentionally build more resentment instead of more engagement, best intentions aside.  

I’ve seen plenty of well-designed performance reviews that stay brilliantly on specifics. But one of the common objections employees have to performance reviews is that the criteria can feel vague; in that gray area may live bias, unfairness, arbitrariness, etc. Going granular may alleviate that: you’re looking at clear tasks delineated within the arc of a project: beginning, middle, completion. There’s closure. A sense of accomplishment. Finishing something feels good — and deserves credit. It may offer a tactful cantilever to other issues that need to be addressed. And there’s no question that each individual’s contribution to that project — and their own experience being a part of it— offer countless opportunities for feedback, for clarification, and for recognition. 

Reflecting What’s Happening Now

Is taking a project-based approach to reviews feasible for most organizations? It could be more feasible than you think. It fits the changes the world of work is already undergoing, and: factors many organizations are already experiencing:

  • An increase in bringing in gig workers, SMEs, and consultants that either complement existing skills among our salaried workforces or expand them as necessary — and therefore redefining the essence of a team.
  • A shift from depending on the overall cohesion of a physical workplace to a remote and hybrid one, where people don’t come together organically but over the work they do.
  • A new emphasis on flexible scheduling and more work/life integration — seeing the job as a series of projects rather than a monolithic block of time no matter what happens.
  • A need to integrate faster into operations and get employees aligned before that 3-6 month period when many consider leaving: A recent survey of some 2,000 U.S. employees found that more than half (52%) were already on the hunt for a new position after being in their present one for less than 3 months. 
  • A workforce in which teams, no matter their composition, can autonomously and independently execute, and a well-managed or self-managed team is becoming the essential engine of production (more than individual output) and a key part of the organizational chart.

A Resilient Framework

Recently the Harvard Business Review pointed to the resiliency of a project framework: instead of focusing on process and controls, it focuses on how to deliver the elements with the greatest value. It’s not a leap to see how that approach could also remove bias (such as recency) and gray areas from the equation, making the effort more about purpose, intent, strategy, goals, execution, and lessons learned. In terms of HR and talent management, that kind of shift immediately opens the door for feedback and self-reflection on the part of its participants and makes self-observation part of growth. In essence, it democratizes the review process by making it more clear.

Depending on the size and nature of your organization, performance reviews may be a critical factor in your talent management strategy. But adding project-focused reviews to the mix adds a concrete benefit. A tangible means to gauge people’s efforts to achieve real results, in real-time.  

It’s also a smaller-scale way to build larger-scale results: as we know, growth happens in increments and iterations, not whole-cloth. No question, it’s easier to drive alignment and achieve collaboration across a team focused on a project. So take that sense of accomplishment, focus on it and celebrate it, and then do that over again. In terms of employee engagement, that can create a truly strong foundation — and more reason for them to stay.