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3 Ways Best-in-Class Organizations Promote Talent Mobility

By Michelle Gouldsberry
June 23, 2022
3 minute read

With high turnover on every employer’s mind, your HR team plays a crucial role in mapping future talent needs.

“We’re facing the ‘Great Escape’ as employees are starting to look beyond the borders and boundaries of their current organizations,” said Anne Fulton, CEO and founder at Fuel50 Talent Marketplace, during her session at Betterworks’ EmpowerHR summit.

One solution is investing in talent mobility. Filling positions internally shows employees they have room to grow without feeling they must leave, possibly to industry competitors. “Talent mobility programs have had a proven impact on employee retention,” Fulton said.

In fact, Fuel50’s talent mobility research indicates that organizations with a functional talent marketplace can see as much as a 60% reduction in attrition. “You’re going to have faster time to productivity, [lower] recruitment costs, better talent retention,” she continued, “and those organizations also had better diversity outcomes.”

Best-in-class organizations support talent mobility by fostering greater talent visibility, investing in experiential learning and cultivating a culture of growth.

Fostering Greater Talent Visibility

A lack of visibility is one of the most substantial barriers to talent mobility, Fuel50’s research found. If your HR team doesn’t have a line of sight into skills and capabilities across the organization, they may lack the information necessary to help employees identify the right career tracks. “If we don’t know who’s got what, how can we place people into opportunities?” Fulton said.

Employers are recognizing the importance of talent visibility to the business. Yet, while 75% of responding HR professionals are prioritizing career visibility, Fulton said, only 43% of HR teams agree that they have visibility into their workforce’s talent bench strength.

In best-in-class organizations, HR has visibility to talent across the workforce. “Where we could provide talent visibility across the organization, there were more positions being filled internally,” Fulton said. By understanding the skills and competencies the workforce already possesses, you can make more informed suggestions to employees who are determining their next career steps.

Once you have visibility into workforce talent, it’s important to share that information with managers, who are supporting employee development on the ground. Teach managers how to use their teams’ talent bench strength data to match employees’ skills to relevant positions on the organizational chart.

Investing in Experiential Learning

Experiential learning, or learning on the job, is a powerful tool for talent mobility. Whether it’s stretch assignments within their department or gigs in other parts of the business, on-the-job learning helps employees discover new strengths, abilities, and interests.

Creating learning opportunities is one of the top talent priorities for best-in-class organizations. Prioritizing employee learning means investing adequately in reskilling and development, with all employees having access to learning resources. Experiential learning is cost-effective and contributes to engagement by empowering employees to learn every day in the flow of work.

“Giving leaders the visibility to bench strength and pipeline made a huge difference in creating a culture of talent sharing,” Fulton said. “People were allowed to go on projects and stretch assignments because … leaders could see that they could backfill those positions.”

Cross-training exposes employees to opportunities outside of their role, helping them make informed career decisions about where they belong in the company. When a long-term role opens up in an area that an employee feels especially engaged in, they’ll be ready to apply with confidence.

Of course, not every business has enough new positions opening up to keep every employee moving through the organization. But you can still create a sense of growth and progression even when your org chart is relatively static. “Stretch assignments and projects can create a sense of mobility,” Fulton said, “without necessarily having immediate, open opportunities.”

Cultivating a Culture of Growth

Enhancing talent visibility and promoting experiential learning contribute to a culture of growth. Culture is a powerful tool for setting norms, sharing accomplishments, and communicating what’s most important to the business. “Where people saw other people getting opportunities, there was a culture of growth and learning,” Fulton said. “That translated into better engagement and lower absenteeism.”

Because managers are stewards of culture, best-in-class organizations prioritize leadership development and support, Fulton said. In these organizations, everyday leaders take an active role in developing their teams, creating a crucial difference in business outcomes.

First, leaders are given tools and resources to support employee development. These tools and guidance enable managers to have the right conversations with employees. Leaders are empowered to identify and fairly distribute a range of learning and development opportunities to members of their team. These leaders act as role models for learning opportunities by developing themselves, too.

Most importantly, leaders in best-in-class organizations encourage internal mobility. If employees feel that their managers are trying to constrain them, they’re less likely to look for opportunities within the company — and more likely to look outside of it.

Best-in-class organizations prioritize talent mobility as part of their drive for success. By implementing these best practices in your organization, you can promote talent mobility across your workforce.