6 Keys to a Successful Internal Mobility Program

I’ve been staring at employee engagement, retention and attrition stats for months as we prep to launch our internal mobility product at untapt. The stats are nothing new, but when you pour over them, little interesting stories start to emerge.

Firstly, job hunting is probably happening at your company while you read this. Unfortunately too, your ancy employees likely feel they need to leave to move their career forward (and in case you were wondering, it looks a lot worse for your millennials).

There are two big misalignments between employer and employee. First, employers think they’re giving their team a clear career path, but employees don’t agree. Secondly, employees actually want to stay with you, they just want to make sure they can find the right positions to grow.

Clearly there’s an opportunity here. They want to make their career better, they want to stay with you, but aren’t getting what they need from you.

How can you make this more formalized at your company, so employees hear you loud and clear?

Career advancement needs to exist.

This sounds obvious, but it’s more complicated than you may think. Most people will say that of course they have career advancement opportunities available.

But having the actual structure in place is the first, necessary step to bring this to fruition. Providing a clear path for employees means exactly that – well-defined, tangible and often documented ways that your talent can move through and up the company.

Things to think about:

  • Make sure there’s a hierarchy of jobs such that people can “climb the ladder.” Can a junior java developer theoretically become a manager, and so forth?
  • Highlight clear steps or milestones that “advance” people up the ladder.
  • Put formal HR processes in place to transition people internally.

Get the right tool in place.

User accessibility and experience is a big issue, especially in a world where you’re competing with several outside marketplaces that want to pluck your employees away. Most employees (66%) actually look internally for jobs before they start looking externally. So your job is to make sure they can access them easily.

While some firms may use custom-built, in-house solutions, other firms may not want or be able to spend core resources on this. Picking the right platform to build your internal marketplace will greatly affect employee engagement.

Things to think about:

  • Do you have a tool in place now? Is it in-house or third-party?
  • Make sure your tool is user-friendly right down to the user interface. Can your employees easily hop on, view and apply to jobs internally?
  • Is there anything inhibiting their process in this regard? Little things like making sure they can access it off site (when they would likely be job searching).

Tell your employees.

You’ve got the structure; you’ve got the tools, now you need to get the word out. Employee adoption will make or break your internal program.

Regularly inform and educate employees about the options available for advancement and how they can make use of the program. Don’t leave it up to them to remember.

Things to think about:

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  • Make the best use of your communication channels to employees, especially the ones you know are successful. Don’t introduce a new way of communicating while you’re introducing a new tool. You’re bound to decrease adoption.
  • Figure out the points in your employees’ careers where you can highlight the process. Onboarding? Reviews? Job fairs?
  • You need to have an education program in place to inform employees of the process, its importance and supplemental content.

Engage your managers.

With 68% of employees feeling their managers aren’t engaged in their career development, it is important to get manager buy-in for this process. Since managers are the ones building teams and filling roles, they need a reason to put internal sourcing as Step 1 in their process. This can be a particularly sensitive topic for managers, as it also means their own team members could very well be open to jobs “down the hall.” Communicating the overall benefit of an internal mobility program to managers will go a long way.

Things to think about:

  • What are the current rules around sourcing internally?
  • Make sure you can effectively educate managers about the process and why it’s a good one.
  • Reconsider your incentive structure to include rewards around internal sourcing.
  • Make sure they have enough reason to look at your internal marketplace before going outside.

Use insights to make it better.

You can’t argue that data usually makes for better decisions. But often times, data on employees is limited to basic skills, demographics and location. Without the right tool, there’s little you can do to make sure your employees are in the right role in your company, to know what divisions are functioning highly, to understand who your top talent is or who your at-risk talent is.

Things to think about:

  • Do you know who your top talent is, and what makes them high performers?
  • Do you know what divisions are most or least attractive to work in, or the most or least productive?
  • Do you know if there are “better matches” that can be made between employees and teams?

Build it into your culture.

Placing a focus on internal career paths for your employees will be most successful if it’s built into your core values and felt at level of the company.

Things to think about:

  • Make sure you have leadership buy-in. It’s one of the best ways to get the whole company on board.
  • Communicate the importance you as a company place on career advancement as much as you can at all levels of the company.
  • Highlight when employees move internally, and when managers hire internally.

You have the opportunity to create a loyal, high-performing workforce if the opportunities for career advancement are given to your employees.

Kate Brodock is the CMO of untapt and co-founder at Women 2.0. She's very heavily involved in issues and projects around women in technology startups and technology investing. Her expertise is in business and marketing strategy, digital marketing, and content production.

Kate has had the pleasure of speaking at numerous events such as SXSW, BlogWorld (NWX), and TEDx. She can be found writing on such publications as Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine. She has also published a chapter on the digital divide in Digital Activism Decoded.

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