Internal mobility strategy – best practice you need to follow

by | Articles

While hiring has slowed in many countries, internal mobility is trending upward in several industries. The latest LinkedIn Global Market Trends report shows how in the past year, 16 of the 19 global industries saw an increase in internal mobility. It seems finding people who have the skills businesses need, then upskilling and retaining them remains a big business priority. Smart organisations are recognising that internal talent mobility is key to achieving their business goals.

The benefits of internal mobility are clear, but attracting and retaining talent needs to start with a bulletproof strategy. Read on to find out what makes an effective internal mobility strategy and the best practices you need to follow to supercharge your talent management.

You can also take a look at our internal mobility programme examples for more ideas and inspiration.


What is an internal mobility strategy?

An internal mobility strategy outlines a clear roadmap for moving employees vertically and laterally within an organisation. Broadly speaking, a great strategy needs to cover:


      • The objective – what do HR and Talent Managers want to achieve by investing in internal mobility?
      • The tactics – how will they achieve their objectives?
      • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – how will they measure the impact of their strategy?


The essential objectives of internal mobility

Like any strategy planning, the process starts with setting the right objectives. These will dictate the tactics and KPIs. Generally, the objectives of an internal talent mobility strategy can be divided into three broad groups:


      • Increase employee retention
      • Talent acquisition
      • Improve employee efficiency


Increase employee retention

According to McKinsey over 40% of workers left their jobs between April 2021 and April 2022 due to a lack of career progression or growth.

“Along with cost savings, the most important benefit from internal job mobility is retention”, Rand Ghayad, LinkedIn’s head of economics and global labor markets, explained.

Increasing employee retention is of course easier said than done. Retaining employees has never been harder and organisations are turning to internal mobility as a way to hold on to anyone who might have their foot out the door. Improving employee retention is an objective that is, and should be, part of any internal mobility strategy.


Talent acquisition

Closely related to retention is the objective of talent acquisition. The goal is simple: attract the best talent and keep them with your organisation. Remember, your employee retention will also impact the calibre of talent you can attract.

In the age of rapid communication, your employer reputation matters more than ever. If your retention rates are high, potential employees will find out about it. And, although hiring has slowed down, competition for new talent is still high with more and more organisations waking up to what the modern workforce values and using this to attract people.

Source: LinkedIn Global Market Trends report

Attracting new talent is not just about showing how you, as an employer, cover the basics. To differentiate yourself, you need to go a step further. This is where having an internal mobility strategy that bakes in talent acquisition can make a big difference.

Improve employee efficiency

Employers are no longer battling the great resignation, but there is another danger becoming more prominent in the modern workforce: “quiet quitting”.

Quiet quitting is a trend where, if employees are unhappy, they don’t leave the organisation. Instead, they stay but do the bare minimum and don’t put much effort in.

For organisations looking to improve employee efficiency, quiet quitting can be a big blocker. Disengaged employees are not efficient employees. Quite the opposite. Disengaged employees have 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity and 15% lower profitability.

With complacency costing organisations around 34% of an employees salary, improving efficiency should prominently feature in your talent mobility strategies.


Tactics for your internal mobility strategy

Of course, depending on the business need, your talent mobility strategy is likely to have more than one objective. The three objectives above are naturally interconnected. For example, if a business is struggling with retention this will directly impact the need for new talent and improving employee efficiency.

Whatever your objective, the next step is to focus on how you will achieve it. This will vary largely between organisations and there are many tactics you could employ. Examples include:

      • Creating clear development paths: help them see a future with the company – this will encourage them to stay and grow
      • Skill enhancement programs: increase job satisfaction and loyalty by investing in employees’ professional growth
      • Mentorship and coaching: make employees feel valued and supported in their career aspirations
      • Succession plans: offer clear paths for advancement and groom internal talent for leadership roles. This will demonstrate commitment to employee growth and retention


Measuring internal mobility success

The tactics you choose will dictate your measures of success. At the top level, you’ll be looking to see how much new talent you’ve acquired in a set period vs how many internal positions you’ve filled as well as your overall retention rate.

Measuring individual tactics of your internal mobility strategy will also help you to see which aspects are going well and which ones need to be improved. Example measures include engagement metrics such as percentage programme uptake, number of managers starting mentorships, as well as performance-based KPIs. All of these will help identify the success of your internal mobility strategy.


Engagement is essential

No matter how you choose to carry out your talent mobility plans, the most important element is the need to bring your people onboard. Without engaging them in a meaningful way, you’ll fail to hit the mark.

So, how can you engage your people to help your organisation attract and retain the best talent?

One powerful way to engage people is through authentic employee video stories. Watching a coworker share a story that directly addresses a misconception or showcases a squiggly but successful career journey is worth its weight in gold. Stories can span all your objectives and help create a mindset-shift that builds trust in a way 100 corporate videos or long-form articles can’t. 

“Human beings are storytellers. Our minds are finely tuned to the emotional significance of events – so much so that making words into a story can improve retention seven-fold.”
Nick Shackleton-Jones – Why the best way to engage learners is with storytelling, TrainingZone, 2021

Employees increasingly seek knowledge and insights from their colleagues. Using employee-generated video in this way is one of the most engaging, trusted, and relatable communication tactics.

But whilst user-generated content in learning is on the rise, quality concerns as well the costs and complexity of capturing employee expertise in the past has forced busy HR and Talent teams to overuse generic content and written copy. This is when your talent mobility strategy fails in execution.

Tools like StoryTagger use structured video storytelling to help organisations enhance the benefits and overcome the typical challenges of user-generated video. You can crowdsource stories from your employees while retaining quality and enabling people to share something both valuable to their peers and themselves! Customisable story templates with best practice baked-in means HR and Talent Managers can supercharge their talent mobility strategy whilst also saving time and money.

What stories can you share?

See the story topics you can use now to support your internal mobility goals.
Story Discovery Tool

Key internal mobility best practice every strategy should follow

While there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy when it comes to talent mobility, there are some best practice guidelines every program should follow. Specifically, the key best practices for an effective internal talent mobility strategy are:

      • Build an internal mobility culture
      • Focus on skills
      • Get managers buy-in
      • Create processes and policies that supports mobility
      • Unlock the knowledge silos


Build an internal mobility culture

One of the most interesting elements of the latest Deloitte Human Capital report is the discussion around harnessing “worker agency”, where modern workers expect to have more say over their working conditions (more meaningful work, flexible working, personalised career paths etc). HR and Talent Managers need to harness this to build an internal mobility culture, underpinned by continuous learning.

Talent mobility strategies should go beyond short-term goals and tactics. They should empower employees to take control of their own learning and aim to provide autonomous career path opportunities. This means people have visibility of what’s available so they can direct their own skills and learning development towards a different role.

If you’re looking to add stories, this is where you can highlight your internal mobility culture in a way people engage with and see that it relates to them. Sharing career paths, success stories, the support available and more can bolster your internal mobility strategy and enable employees to be inspired by their peers. This ultimately drives their professional growth and career progression within the organisation.

Look to engage top-level managers and respected experts to share their career progression story or ask mentors to promote the benefits of mentorship.


Focus on skills

The current labour market still values experience over skills. In fact, two groups benefiting the most from internal mobility right now are people managers and Gen X. Both groups usually have extensive work experience.

Source: LinkedIn Global Market Trends report


But the need to focus your strategy on skills has never been greater. Basing recruitment decisions purely on experience creates inequality in the labour market and ignores the shift in the workplace that is already happening. To benefit from skills rather than experience, organisations like the British Library use early careers programmes as a way to recruit and retain new talent.

Technological evolution (particularly in the AI space), the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are stressors right now. And, all point to the need for organisations to focus on developing future skills as part of upskilling and reskilling their workforce. The Future of Jobs Report indicates that by 2025, the time spent on current tasks at work by humans and machines will be equal and half of the workforce will have to upskill or reskill.

Your internal strategy needs to take this into account. Video storytelling as part of your internal mobility strategy has a dual benefit here:

      • Firstly, it engages your workforce better than many other formats, meaning people are more likely to adopt new skills more quickly and effectively.
      • Secondly, using tools like StoryTagger to guide people into sharing their stories and experiences will help develop essential skills like communication, reflective practice, storytelling and more. This builds individual skills, embeds knowledge and contributes to a long-term internal mobility culture and continuous learning.
Storytelling is an increasingly important power skill to improve communication and connection in work communities and unblock the flow of critical information and knowledge sharing.
Joe Hill-Wilson
Chief Commercial Officer, Learn Amp

Get manager buy-in

Implementing internal mobility programs is challenging. One of those challenges, as outlined in Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report is managerial resistance to internal moves. Managers can be reluctant to part with high-performing employees, hoarding talent within their department. This is why managers’ buy-in is essential in your internal mobility strategy.

One solution is to incentivise managers to incorporate wider company goals, not just focus on departmental targets. For example, reward managers for encouraging lateral internal mobility as well.


Create processes and policies that supports mobility

For your strategy to work and for you to build a culture of mobility, you need a structure and processes that support it. Internal mobility needs to be part of business as ususal (BAU) of people management and not just a one-off initiative i.e bring in a development focus in all 1:1 meetings and performance reviews.

This is where you can incorporate stories to not only show people what career pathways are possible at your organisation, but also develop some of the skills needed to manage people effectively. Story templates, like the one below from the StoryTagger template library, helps managers share best practice around how they make time for great 1-2-1s. Or you could make it easier for your managers to set SMART development goals by sharing a video story on the subject (also a StoryTagger template!).


Story Template – Line managers: Making time for great 1-2-1s

Part 1

Finding time to have 1-2-1s with your team.

Tell us your name and your role.

Why is it important to have regular 1-2-1s with your team?

Part 2

What does a great 1-2-1 look like?

What does a great 1-2-1 look like in your experience as a manager?

Tell us the impact of having regular 1-2-1s on your team members.

Part 3

Tips for other managers.

What’s the biggest challenge you face when having 1-2-1s, and how do you overcome it?

Share your top tip for having effective, constructive 1-2-1s every time.

You can also show your stakeholders how others are embracing internal mobility. Rather than scheduling yet another meeting, level up your talent strategy by capturing video stories from your top advocates. These can be saved on your systems and people can watch them whenever and wherever is convenient to them.


Unlock the silos

For talent management to be effective, you need to break down silos. Whether it’s talent silos caused by talent hoarding or communication silos reflected in the lack of information for employees on available roles . But if you unlock those silos you can increase retention, acquisition and efficiency.

Your internal mobility strategy should acknowledge the silos that exist in your organisation and address them. Sharing stories is a great way to do this. They help break down barriers, overcome misconceptions and showcase the opportunities that are available. All based on existing success stories and career journeys. Taking a deliberate and strategic approach to storytelling will mean you capture exactly the right stories to plug the gaps you’re seeing.


Final thoughts

The pressure to recruit and retain talent is still on, and organisations need skilled and motivated employees ready to take on new challenges and drive innovation. Otherwise, they will fail to position themselves for long-term success in a rapidly changing marketplace. Organisations that invest in and leverage internal mobility strategies have an opportunity to gain the competitive edge. But, only if they do it right.

Use the same old tactics and your talent management will be left behind. Setting clear objectives, effective tactics and relevant KPIs is only part of the equation. HR and Talent Managers need to follow best practice to succeed and layer them with scalable approaches to grow engagement while lowering costs. Employee-generated video stories are one powerful and cost-effective way you can do this! Not only will you have the valuable content you need to make your internal mobility plans thrive, but also by using the right tools you will help people build confidence, develop essential skills and grow with you.

Talk to us to see how StoryTagger can help you supercharge your internal mobility strategy. Book your demo today.

Free guide

Storytelling at work

Why you need an intentional strategy for curating employee-generated content

StoryTagger Guide: Storytelling At Work
Download Now