Struggling to find the right candidates to fill your latest job vacancies or bridge talent gaps in your company? Before you throw more money at your recruiting programs, think about promoting internally within your own ranks.

Internal mobility—the movement of employees to new opportunities within the same company—is becoming an increasingly popular hiring and retention strategy, especially in markets where the talent pool is tight.

“Companies are definitely more open to it, because the landscape is changing,” says Michelle Thompson, XMI’s vice president of HR. “They want to have great places for employees to work and be known as a preferred workplace.”

Employees, especially millennials, are more likely to stay at a company if they have opportunities to learn, grow and advance. Plus, recruiting talent has become more difficult in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a broader skills gap in the labor pool and fewer people willing to change jobs.

More than just an enticing perk for younger workers, a robust internal mobility program is “beneficial for everyone, even longtime workers who may have been doing the same thing for years and would like to try something different,” Thompson says. “If they aren’t encouraged to do that, they may leave to get that experience somewhere else.”

Not only can internal mobility help alleviate turnover, but it also boosts employee morale and satisfaction and expands the knowledge and expertise of your entire staff. The more skills employees have in diverse areas of the business, “the more valuable they will be to the company as a whole,” Thompson says.

Building Internal Mobility Into Your Culture

So what should an internal mobility program look like? It should be much more holistic than simply posting new positions internally so employees can apply. It’s more about growing your talent by providing experiences that challenge them in new ways, whether that be a promotion, a mentorship or a project that falls outside their defined role. “There are opportunities everywhere—you just have to look for them,” Thompson says. Start integrating internal mobility into your culture with these practices.

Think outside the box. Notify employees across your organization of any job vacancy as soon as it opens up and look internally before broadening your search outside the company. Don’t disregard someone just because they work in a different department or role or lack a particular skill, such as management experience, that they can develop on the job. Otherwise, “you may be missing out on a key opportunity to allow someone to flourish and grow,” Thompson says

Scout out your own talent. What if you regularly post jobs internally, but no one applies? Don’t just assume that none of your employees are qualified to fill the spot. Talk to managers in different departments about people on their teams. Ask if any employees have expressed interest in learning new skills or advancing into a new role. “Reach out to those employees and ask them why they haven’t applied—you may learn things about your company you didn’t know,” Thompson says.

Offer training. If employees don’t meet all the skill requirements listed in a job posting, they may be hesitant to apply. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t make a good fit. “If they meet most of the requirements, you can train them on the pieces they are missing,” Thompson says. For example, if a star employee is interested in a management position, but has never supervised staff before, you could offer training via an online management course or pair the employee with a mentor for guidance. Conducting a skills gap analysis can also help identify skill shortages in your organization, so you can devise a plan for developing these in your teams.

Be transparent. When posting jobs internally, be open about pay ranges for different roles. All too often businesses shortchange employees by giving them a promotion without compensating them accordingly. For example, if an employee gets promoted to a position that would normally double his or her salary, some businesses will only offer the internal hire a 20-percent pay increase. This typically backfires once hires discover what their new role is worth in the market. Though they may never say anything for fear of appearing ungrateful, “they can become upset and disengaged if they find out a company was trying to save a few bucks at their expense,” Thompson says.

Ask for volunteers. Even if you don’t have any open positions for employees at the moment, you can still provide opportunities for them to grow professionally or hone their skills in new ways. “If you have a program that encourages people to volunteer for things they enjoy, you may discover hidden talent in your organization that you can tap into,” Thompson says.

Including employees from different teams on company-wide projects or initiatives or posting projects internally and asking for volunteers are good ways to develop talent, engage employees and encourage internal mobility.

Need help tapping your workplace for open positions? XMI can help you create and implement a successful internal mobility program. Get in touch at or 615-248-9255.

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