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People strategy

4 Ways to Promote Talent Mobility in Your Workplace

Tobias Hardy

sea-flight-sky-earth.jpgIn order to retain talent, managers must support their employees’ desire to grow and ultimately move forward with their careers – even if that means losing their top team members.

According to a study conducted by RolePoint, 50% of managers are worried they may be unintentionally hoarding talent. Talent hoarding is the practise of leaving capable, top employees in the same roles, causing them to feel trapped, and often forcing them to seek career growth elsewhere. In fact, in the same study, 45% of employees who switched jobs reported that they did so because they perceived a lack of advancement opportunities in their position.

By contrast, talent mobility is a dynamic internal process which operates similarly to an internal recruitment programme. These programmes can break the cycle that a habit like talent hoarding can create: hiring employees that produce results, not allowing those employees to grow in their careers, subsequently losing them, then onboarding new hires who will fall into the same cycle.

Employees want work that is challenging, exciting and promotes growth. Embedding talent mobility into the culture of your organisation empowers employees and encourages them to commit themselves to your business for the long haul. We’ve got four tips for creating a culture of talent mobility in your workplace.

Set Clear Goals and Encourage Transparency

The first step to encouraging talent mobility from within your firm is to define success in your organisation. Whether those goals consist of KPI targets you wish to hit, or innovative solutions to organisational problems, employees will need to have a clear idea of what constitutes success in order to consistently meet or exceed your expectations. Also, by transparently establishing goals for your employees in the context of professional advancement, you’ll demonstrate an effort to recruit from within before looking elsewhere, which shows confidence in your existing talent pool.

It’s also crucial to establish goals for the talent mobility programme itself  is the primary objective to increase employee engagement, or is it to identify and train the next generations of leaders with the organisation? With these overarching goals in mind, it will be easier to hash out specific criteria for internal advancement readiness.

Recognise Employee Successes

After your goals are well-established, you should develop a protocol that documents the successes of your employees in relation to those goals. Whether you ask employees to keep track of this themselves or ask your managers to do the note-taking, this internal succession infrastructure will help to ensure that HR and top-level management figures always have a clear conception of which employees should be promoted.

Your talent mobility programme should also be structured around regular opportunities for conversations between employees and business leadership in order to align employee career expectations with business goals. If an employee is succeeding in their position to such a great extent that they are becoming bored, you should be creating an environment in which they can propose innovative organisational solutions, one in which they feel valued and listened to. You might also consider creating a compensation or recognition structure (financial incentives or internal recognition programmes like awards) to further encourage employee engagement.

With at least the beginnings of a succession plan in place for top-performing employees, it will be far easier to identify and promote those who are “move-ready.”

Avoid Potential Pitfalls

Of course, there are potential issues that can arise. For example, managers may end up nominating candidates for promotions based on location, existing relationships or unconscious preferences, which could potentially result in the business missing hidden gems and employees feeling there are a lack of opportunities. Neither of which are good for business performance or employee engagement. run counter to the best interests of both the business and the employee.

When selecting employees for their recent Leadership Development programmes, Nationwide Building Society included video technology and our platform to enable a move from a manager nominated process to one of employee application. This meant they could take a more inclusive and diverse approach to engagement and application, increase visibility of hidden talent and ensure they were selecting the strongest candidates fairly.

After meeting criteria for the programme, candidates went through a “fit test” in the form of an interactive quiz with questions relating to their readiness for the programme. They were then asked to complete a situational judgement test: video-based scenes which required the selection of effective responses from a range of options, a test of their reasoning and finally a video-based response to some critical questions, which awarded them the final interview stage.

Ultimately, an inclusive approach to attraction, a fair and objective assessment and the selection of the strongest talent was a win-win for everyone involved.

Develop Training Programmes

Once you’ve identified the employees who are ready to move upward or across your organisation, you’ll need a pre-established structure which helps them to grow into new roles. In a global study performed by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, survey respondents posited that experiential learning is more valuable than traditional classroom training environments. For that reason, you should designate mentors for move-ready employees in order to streamline internal talent shifts  with the proper support, attention and training, your employees will be well-prepared to make the shift to new roles within your organisation.

When managers nurture talent and help their employees grow within role and beyond it, top talent will begin to gravitate towards them. Managers who have a reputation for helping their employees advance in their careers will develop a self-sustaining system of training employees and helping them excel – and attracting new employees to whom this supportive relationship appeals.

If your company makes an effort to help its employees grow and provide opportunities for internal advancement, your top performers will be more likely to stick around  for that reason, a talent mobility programme just might be the most important next step.

Tobias Hardy

Tobias is a HR professional passionate about performance through engagement. He advises organisations on all aspects of recruitment process design with a particular focus on using technology to measure and overcome unconscious bias.