Traditional skills strategies result in unhappy learners, unhappy managers and terrible datasets. It's time to upgrade to something better.
Mark Ward Co-Founder
| 3 min read
The Great Resignation. The war for talent. The candidate-driven market. Dynamic shifts in workplace trends are always going to be on the horizon, and employers are having to think harder about how they become a place where the best people want to spend their time and grow.
Sacha Harvey Head of People & Culture
As Sir Richard Branson once famously said, “Train your people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” This bold statement is ringing true more than ever, with post-pandemic new working norms, and more expectations than ever before on employers to create an environment that focuses as much on the success, inclusion and wellbeing of its people as it does on the business.
Talent mobility strategies are nothing new. But with most businesses facing similar challenges around hiring, retention, critical skills gaps and budget restraints, a new spotlight is being shone on internal mobility. It can cost one and a half times a team member’s salary to replace them with an external hire, and external hires on average have higher exit rates than internal employees. It makes sense that you’d utilise and build on the skills already within the organisation, so what should you be thinking about to get started?
The benefits of an internal mobility strategy far outweigh the challenges that come with implementing one. But it’s not reasonable to assume that this is something which can be ‘switched on’ overnight. An effective internal mobility strategy requires an understanding of the people in your business, including their goals, career aspirations and particular skills they already have or are looking to build. You also need to look internally at the organisation, and at manager development capability. Where are the opportunities? Are there certain skill gaps that appear across different parts of the business? Is there a team or department which has an unusually high turnover rate?
There may also be challenges within the culture of the organisation. Does the leadership team understand that enabling people to move around the business can boost the metrics that are important to them?
Compiling this information, both quantitatively and through anecdotal channels, can give you the foundation you need to start implementing change.
In the recent LinkedIn Workplace Learning report almost half of organisations surveyed identified upskilling as one of their top priorities. And it’s not surprising. As L&D takes an increasingly strategic role in wider organisational initiatives, the traditional role of learning is aligning with the desire for workforce agility and the result is a critical need to understand what the holistic skills landscape looks like.
To get a clear picture of the skills within the business, what’s trending and what’s missing, it’s no longer enough to implement a competency framework and hop in occasionally to update it based on top-down feedback. Forward-thinking employers are putting the power in the hands of their people, and enabling a truly self-driven skills journey where employees can add skills, build on existing knowledge and learn new skills from peers.
Think about how many skills were developed while we were all unexpectedly stuck at home during the pandemic (sourdough starter anyone?) Skills developed outside of the workplace are as valuable as those related directly to a role, and people’s interests, hobbies and non-work related learning all form part of their whole self which they bring to work. Use this to support your internal mobility.
Employee engagement and internal mobility go hand in hand. Having access to opportunities across the business increases employee satisfaction, and happy employees are more likely to want to stay within the business rather than seek external moves. But concerningly, only 36% of employees feel engaged at work according to a recent Gallup report. What’s causing this gap?
Culture is more than a word. It’s about an authentic feeling of ‘the way we do things around here’.
It’s not enough to talk about having a great culture and all the perks that come with being part of your organisation, most companies will do that anyhow. You need to dig into how your teams are feeling about their work, about what’s expected of them, and ensure they have a clear view of their impact on the organisation. And don’t forget to give them the flexibility to create their own work/life balance.
Invest in development. A study by Indeed found nearly one-third (32%) of tech workers said self-improvement was THE MOST VALUED characteristic of their role. Development and learning opportunities are no longer nice to have, they’re deal-breakers. And don’t keep upskilling programs in silo, encourage knowledge sharing, user-generated content and peer-to-peer learning.
Be transparent. In our new social world it’s difficult to keep information behind closed doors, so many organisations are choosing to embrace openness and transparency for their workforce to build trust and collaboration. When it comes to joining a new organisation, Glassdoor reported that 32% of job applicants rate employee reviews as the most important source of information on a potential employer. Think about how this translates to internal opportunities. Potential internal candidates should (and probably already are) be able to talk to members of other teams to get their input and help them make their decisions. Transparency around internal opportunities should be encouraged and enabled across the organisation.
In Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey, more than 50% of respondents said that it was easier for employees to find a job outside their organisation than inside. With the war for talent raging on it feels like companies should be doing everything they can to retain their people. So what roadblocks might you face as you drive forward your internal mobility program?
The Deloitte findings showed that the top 3 barriers were;
While it may be more difficult to address a shortage of candidates (though upskilling should help) it’s the resistance from managers that can and should be tackled early on. If the managers in your organisation aren’t acknowledging the benefit of internal mobility then there’s a need for education to bring them onboard.
An increasingly important part of talent mobility is the use of internal and external colleagues to help upskill employees and facilitate moves across the business. This might look like spending time with a team which is already skilled in a particular area, or bringing in external consultants to help build on less tangible power skills like confidence and teamwork. Feedback is a crucial part of the learning process and coaching and mentoring is a truly effective way to access and deliver that information. In one article on mentoring, Forbes highlighted research by Sun Microsystems which showed that employees who had been mentored were 6 times more likely to be promoted.
Lean on the expertise and skills that already exist in the business as a starting point, and pair with digital learning programs to mobilise your strategy.
THRIVE Learning and Skills Platform helps organisations drive their mobility strategies. As the world’s first complete learning and skills platform, we give clients a platform to deliver personalised learning, drive peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and user-generated content, and collaborate across the entire workforce.
Despondent with your data or don’t even know where to start? As always, THRIVE’s got your back! Check out our Data Demystified video series to get the lowdown on what really matters when it comes to learning data.
Matt Bristow Digital Marketing Specialist
Consistently brilliant. Often unsung. Support teams contribute so much to customer happiness, and at THRIVE, that’s never rung truer.
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