Internal mobility has been identified as one of the most important trends in people management. In reality, however, the transfer of internal know-how and the promotion of high performers remain stuck in a quagmire of stubborn reservations. Only with the right mindset and smart technology as an enabler can companies exploit the full potential of a functioning internal job market.
A happy match! It could be so simple
When supply matches demand, something good usually comes of it. This applies to the free market just as much as it does to dating websites, the exchange of snacks between kids in primary school, and filling company vacancies. A happy match! This is where things could be so easy because, often, supply and demand even meet in the company corridor. Internal mobility offers companies far more benefits than mere cost savings because internal appointments can be used to fill staffing gaps elegantly and without additional financial outlay. It has been shown that those who can offer their own employees new challenges and opportunities for personal career development benefit from their motivation and loyalty. In addition, team flexibility is created in the long term, releasing valuable synergies: know-how remains in the company, but at the same time employees can be deployed in a variety of ways. Staffing shortages, for example, can then be more easily absorbed.
Internal mobility: without the winds of change, it’s the doldrums
Nevertheless, internal mobility usually fails to reach its full potential, even where companies have invested in an appropriate platform with an internal talent pool. But this approach puts the cart before the horse, as Michael Eger, Partner at Mercer | Promerit is well aware of. “The first priority shouldn’t be technology but the mindset in the company. As long as there are reservations about an internal job market – whether it be in management or among employees – internal mobility will not work. It requires a positive attitude combined with the will to change, to rethink recruitment processes and personnel development. Only then can you deal with processes, contents, and strategies – and finally, technology”.
Management and employees still have reservations
Often enough, however, the company culture and prevailing mentality are more of a brake than an accelerator for the changes in question. This starts with widespread departmental egoism, meaning that high performers prefer to change companies rather than just teams. The assumption that an internal talent pool is nothing more than a collection point for employees who have been sidelined reveals a stigma that is very difficult to correct. If, in addition, internal jobs are only filled on the quiet, or top managers always come from outside, it is difficult for employees to understand why internal mobility should work at all.
Mindset first! Clear goals as the basis for successful communication
The first step is to create and establish a mindset for internal mobility in the company through clear and transparent communication, which actually reaches employees and management and gets them on board. For example, by outlining personal prospects and illustrating specific areas of potential. Choosing the right communication channels is also crucial for this. To put it bluntly: a notice on the board is of little use if two-thirds of the workforce is working from home. In addition, activities such as taster days or internal ‘internships’ can also be set up to familiarise employees with the basic ideas behind internal mobility or, for example, to involve them in its implementation through ideation methods.
However, Eger warns against communication campaigns if the objective of the internal job market is not clear: “Communication can fail precisely when you don’t know exactly what you want to communicate”. For example, is it about filling traditional internal vacancies or transformation – perhaps due to structural changes as part of digitization – or because areas of responsibility in the company are changing? More agility, a greater focus on project teams, and/or more sustainable HR development may also be primary objectives. Before getting employees on board, it should be clear what you wish to get them excited about.
Technology second! ‘What’ determines the ‘how’
But a clear and precise definition of objectives is important for another reason. It should be the basis for implementing technology. This is no longer just about the primary goal of the internal job market, but also about usability, functionality and the candidate experience, which is of course is just as important for internal applicants as for external ones. “First you have to define what you need and then look for a suitable tool. Not the other way around” says, Eger. Of course, technology can certainly provide ideas and show what is feasible, but it should be downstream from internal mobility.
With smart modules towards a new mindset – going full circle
Talentry’s Internal Mobility Module, for example, offers a wide range of features that support specific objectives. Despite their complexity, they are so intuitive to use that both
those responsible for people management and employees will have no hesitation in using the technology. Internal job postings are transparent and centrally accessible, employees can apply easily and discretely using the app, and talent pools with smart filter functions enable fast internal sourcing. If the exchange of know-how within the company is facilitated and supported in this way, technology can help to overcome vanities within management and make internal mobility valued as a benefit for the entire organization. At the same time, internal moves lose their stigma and the promotion of high performers becomes part of the mindset.
Recognizing internal mobility as a profitable change process
“Love change!“ Michael Eger encourages. “I think it’s important to approach the whole thing in a positive way because it’s a great topic. It offers companies opportunities because many employees remain satisfied with their own organizations, despite all prophecies of doom. If, as an employer, I then offer prospects and the chance of personal development, then this should also be perceived as a positive thing.