Internal Mobility: Need and Purpose

June 10, 2015

Career development opportunities are at the top of your employees “must-have” list. Not addressing this need is starting to take a toll on organizations that have fallen behind. In a 2013 survey of more than 100 companies by consultancy Towers Watson, the lack of internal mobility opportunities was cited as the main reason why employees would leave their workplace.

After researching the success behind the organizations listed in Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For, Forbes compiled a list of what they call the five elements of a ‘simply irresistible’ organization. Not surprisingly, growth and internal mobility opportunities are listed as one of these five elements.

Successful organizations enable internal talent mobility where people can move from job to job without fear of failure – supported by leadership as well as HR.

The key to doing this is to remember that your growth opportunities have to go further than just vertical movement. There aren’t so many jobs at the top for everyone to move into management or be promoted.

Lateral movement provides an alternative that allows you to expand on your own horizons. It promotes the development of new skills, encourages innovation and allows you to discover different approaches to problem solving.

Remember that the best source of skills is within your own organization – if you cannot make internal mobility easy, your best people will go elsewhere.

The Need for Internal Mobility Options

Career development is becoming increasingly important in today’s workforce. About one in every three employees in the U.S. is currently a millennial, and by 2025 they will become 75 percent of the global workforce. And while salary is paramount when trying to retain these workers, career advancement opportunities are close behind, with 85% of millennials saying that they look for work that makes a difference and is enriching to themselves.

Even with this increase in demand, companies are still failing to meet their employees’ expectations:

  • According to Accounting Principals' latest Workplace Insights survey, only 14% of hiring managers in the accounting and finance fields are willing to negotiate employee development opportunities during the hiring process even though 26% report most employees leave their companies because of lack of career development opportunities.
  • Out of all of the companies that are surveyed by Forbes, only 3% deliver strong internal mobility programs at all levels.

Don’t make the same mistake. Organizations that invest more heavily in training, career development, and mobility outperform their peers in almost every industry.

2015 is the time to provide transparency around internal positions, employee assessment tools, cross training, interview guides, and leadership values that focus on internal development. Growth opportunities like these are proven to be one of the strongest drivers of engagement and continuous learning, which is important in today’s world where only 13% of employees are engaged worldwide.


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