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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.

Skills Development: Now or Later?

Podcast Sponsored by: Cornerstone

Research from PWC shows that upskilling puts companies at a great advantage. The research found that companies realize an extra 10% to 15% of the benefit of large-scale transformation initiatives and up to 40% reduction in workloads on individual roles, as well as a 5% improvement in workforce retention when they integrate upskilling. These benefits lead to more output, opportunities to reduce cost, and higher customer satisfaction

Our Guest: Katie Ballantyne

On our latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Katie Ballantyne, Cornerstone’s VP of Product and Customer Experience. She has years of experience achieving industry-leading employee engagement programs across organizations.

Katie Explains the already large gap we are seeing in skills development from 2020 to 2022

“Well,  from 2020 to 2022, what we’ve found out through research is that employee confidence that their employer is effectively developing their skills has gone down. And we found that the gap has grown wider. There’s now a 35 percentage point difference between that employer and employee confidence in skilling.

“What this really means, is that only about 55% of employees feel like their employer is effectively developing their skills.”

High Performing Organizations VS Low Performing Organizations

What differentiates these high-performing organizations from organizations that are just not excelling? Is it money? Type of employee? There has to be a definitive answer. Lets see what Katie thought:

“Here’s what we found out. The high performing organizations, they only had a nine percentage point skills confidence gap, whereas the laggard organizations had a 42 percentage point skill confidence gap.”

Katie goes further into the analysis:

“So what that means is that these laggard organizations, so the organizations that aren’t performing as well financially or with their customer retention, this means that only 18% of those employees feel like skilling and development is a high priority for their company. Let’s compare that in contrast to the high performing organizations, this was the only one with that nine percentage point gap, 88% of employees that these organizations feel like there is a priority in their development, in their learning, in their growth.”

The Lure of Learning Development

With a stat from 2021- Katie Explains:

“There was a survey that was done between Amazon and Gallup, it was back in 2021, and that survey uncovered that skills training is one of the top perks that people look for in their jobs. And with about 61% of the respondents in this study saying that upskilling opportunities are also important for staying at their jobs.”

How does technology play a role in the learning development process?

“People know that skilling is important, but sometimes they’re not quite sure where to start. This is big. It’s not like going and picking maybe eight competencies, which is still important and that’s still huge work to even do that and to narrow down that selection, but it can be really, really intimidating.”

I hope you found this recent episode of #WorkTrends informative and inspiring. To learn more about Cornerstone and Skills Development, please visit https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/ 

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

Leadership + Influence From The Inside Out #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for all the highlights and resource links from this week’s #TChat Events? You’re in luck — they’re right this way at the #TChat Recap: Gut Check: Emotions and Leadership.)

“It’s not personal — it’s strictly business.”
–Mario Puzo “The Godfather

Have you ever heard someone at work echo that classic line to dismiss their ruthless, destructive or self-serving behavior? In the past, that kind of cold-blooded Mafia mindset was all too prevalent in business. But these days it’s losing relevance, as emotional intelligence takes hold.

Although academics continue to debate various “EI” models, the core concept is simple. It’s based on the notion that the more mindful we are of the “human” side of business (in ourselves and others), the more effective our performance will be, and the more likely we’ll influence others’ performance.

While some people resist the term “emotional intelligence,” the concept is gaining traction. Some of the world’s most successful organizations — companies like Google and Microsoft — are actively developing emotional intelligence in their workforce. Why does it matter? And how can it “make” or “break” your professional reputation?

That’s the topic we’re discussing this week at #TChat Events, with EI expert, Steve Gutzler, President of Leadership Quest, a Seattle leadership consultancy, and author of “Emotional Intelligence for Personal Leadership.”

“Sneak Peek” Hangout

To kick-off this week’s discussion, Steve joined me for a G+ Hangout, where he briefly shared some fascinating insights about the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace:

This week’s #TChat Events promise to be helpful for anyone who wants to work more effectively with and through others. So bring your questions and ideas — and let’s talk!

#TChat Events: Emotional Intelligence, Leadership and Influence

#TChat Radio — Wed, Dec 18 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

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Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Steve Gutzler about why emotional intelligence matters in the workplace, and its connection with influence. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Dec 18 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Steve will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where Dr. Nancy Rubin will lead an open chat with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: Why is emotional intelligence so critical for today’s leaders?
Q2: How do emotional “soft skills” complement hard-edge business skills?
Q3: What is emotional hijacking vs. emotional self-management?
Q4: How can business leaders offer productive emotional influence?
Q5: What technologies can foster employee appreciation + emotional commitment?

We look forward to hearing your feedback, as talent-minded professionals, who care about the human side of business.

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.
We’ll see you on the stream!

Social Learning in Business: Sneak Peek

(Editorial Note: For the full preview of this week’s topic, read “Igniting Social Learning.” Or to see the weekly recap, read Digging Deep into Social Learning #TChat Recap)

Engagement performance. It’s a key to learning in today’s world of work. But exactly what is it, and how can we leverage this concept to achieve desired business results?

As Michael Clark, CEO of ReCenter, suggests in this video, it starts by aligning engagement with business goals, and applying social tools that help us perform more effectively.

Michael views “engagement performance” almost as one word – performance is everything that happens after the moment we decide to engage. And in today’s social workplace, it means that individuals and organizations can transform the way they conduct business in profound ways.

During the coming weeks, TalentCulture will explore this concept and offer opportunities for hands-on social learning skills development.

Join us this week, and let’s explore the potential of social learning skills together:

If you don’t see the video window above, watch the sneek peak on YouTube.

Add Productivity to Your Summer Vacation

Written by Kirsten Taggart

Ahhh, summer vacation – my favorite time of year. This summer, however, is a very significant summer as it is my last before I graduate from academia and start my life as a “real” person in May 2012.  Naturally I’ve been thinking about how I can spend my last summer of freedom in a productive, yet fun way.  After talking with my GenY friends about different summer goals, here is my list of how you can make the most out of your summer vacation.

1.  Apply for a Job or Internship

By this point in the year you’ve probably sent in your applications and have started to hear back from potential employers.  No matter what position you decide to take, don’t forget to prepare before your first day.  Map out how long it will take you to get to the office so you can arrive early.  Are you driving or taking public transportation? Check train and bus schedules just in case.  Did they ask you to bring certain items with you?  Gather everything you’ll need the night before so you won’t forget anything on your way out.  Being prepared will help to calm your nerves and stay confident on your big day.

2.  If You’ve Missed Application Deadlines…

…there’s no need to panic. Positions can open up at any time even after the summer rush.  Finding them can be tricky, so maximize your resources.  Who do you know that can help? Are your previous employers still hiring?  Have you checked Craigslist or other job boards? Shoot an email to your professors who might have connections in your field.  There are people willing to help you – you just have to ask!

3.  Learn a New Skill

It’s important to stay mentally active even if you are on vacation. Experts are finding we lose much of our mental agility during long breaks when we aren’t challenging our minds as we normally would at school (because isn’t that what a vacation is for?).  Luckily for us, it doesn’t take much to maintain your wit.  If you’re busy at your job or internship for the majority of your day, make it a point to pick up a newspaper before your morning commute or start that book you’ve been meaning to read (or if you despise reading for some reason, this will do just fine).  If you have more time to spare, why not take on a light summer class? I’m not suggesting you enroll in a hefty physics course by any means (unless you like that kind of stuff, in which case more power to you…) but look into classes that will knock some credits out of the way or are just plain fun.  Why not take that photography/dance/cooking/whatever class you’ve had your eye on? Now’s your chance!

4.  Travel

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it is beautiful outside! Take advantage of the summer weather.  Plan a trip somewhere to escape your weekly routine even if it’s simply exploring a new area of your city or town.  Plan a trip with some friends for a long weekend or, if you’re especially adventurous, set aside a week to travel to a foreign city.  You only live once!

5.  Plan Ahead for Fall

Start thinking about your goals for the upcoming semester.  What do you want to achieve this year?  Send your applications for internships and jobs before the deadline so you’re not rushing at the last minute (there’s nothing more annoying than finding cover letter typos after you submitted it).  Review your class schedule – are there any changes that can be made to better suit your learning habits (i.e. early vs late classes, class on every day of the week or concentrated on only two or three, etc)?  What books do you need to buy?  If you are applying for a job or internship consider how it will fit into your academic calendar and discuss with your employer how you aim to balance both obligations.

IMAGE VIA Giorgio Montersino