Published on

December 9, 2022

Benefits of Internal Mobility: Realising the Full Potential

Immo Bohlsen

Immo Bohlsen

Senior Data Engineer


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Internal mobility facilitates employee shifts within the organization, implementing smooth transitions between vertical and lateral roles.

Defining Internal Mobility

Internal mobility is a methodology used to help employees reach their potential, enhance their performance and reach their career goals through development, training, and relocations. Job rotations, lateral moves, and promotion opportunities are typical examples of the activities it includes.

Taking a focused approach to providing employees with career growth opportunities not only retains top talent but also attracts more talented people to your organization. With internal mobility, employees get exposure to challenging new roles while the company manages to fill gaps in skills or talent shortages by moving skilled people around.

Internal mobility matters, here’s why

It is becoming more challenging to find and secure new talent in today’s increasingly competitive job market. The impact on the company is worsened by the external recruiting process typically being very expensive and the time-to-hire being long.

When you finally do land an external candidate, they need to be onboarded before they become productive. There is also always the risk that the new employee will not perform as expected or do not fit into the culture and mission of the company.

Companies are also dealing with increasing employee turnover rates as retention rates plummet. Employees are moving jobs for more than just economic reasons as they are not also seeking Remote and hybrid working setups. Many employees also feel that they need to change companies if they want to further their careers.

The challenges regarding hiring and retaining talent are daunting enough, but there is also a third equally important factor that stresses the need for internal mobility measures. This is the need to adapt quickly to changing customer requirements. Since the pandemic, companies have been required to restructure their operations and even markets almost overnight.

To remain competitive in the future will need to focus on developing its workforce towards being more agile. They will also have to change their ways of working to break down silos created around functions and regions.

To address these three challenges, it is vital to develop efficient and effective internal mobility processes. Josh Bersin, an industry analyst, stated that “people who move around the company gain perspective, cultural insights, and can perform in unique and productive ways because of their relationships and knowledge of all parts of the company.”

Internal mobility increases employee engagement, and this typically leads to enhanced performance and results. New opportunities may also motivate employees to learn new skills or grow their current skills. Internal mobility allows companies to identify hidden away internal expertise.

Looking at the results of the annual Global Talent Trends report for 2020, it is clear that there are even further benefits to having an internal mobility program, as can be seen in the graph below.

Why internal recruiting matters

The majority of talent professionals agree that being able to identify your internal talent, or internal recruiting, has many benefits. These include higher retention rates, newly appointed employees mastering the role quickly, and a faster recruitment turnover as it becomes an internal transfer process instead of a full recruitment process.

All these benefits ultimately help to reduce recruitment costs. To achieve these benefits, companies require effective ways to identify people and allocate them for the best-suited roles. This requires good data and streamlined tools.

Why technology is required to unlock the full potential of internal mobility

More than 50% of the respondents to the Deloitte 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey felt that in their current organizations, it is easier for employees to find a new job externally rather than within. The respondents mentioned two major roadblocks to internal mobility:

  • There is no information on available roles available to employees
  • There is no formal process to identify and move employees

The good news is that creating an online talent marketplace could be the solution to both these roadblocks. The beauty of a talent marketplace is that it creates transparency and lets your employees explore and apply for any internal job when it suits them. It also standardizes and streamlines the internal recruitment process making it easier for the hiring manager to accommodate it in their schedules.

Ideally, you would want to make recommendations to employees about possible opportunities. This sounds a lot easier than it sounds. Modern careers no longer follow a vertical line that ends in management. This makes making recommendations about possible career moves for employees or even suggesting a career journey highly complicated. The possibilities differ per employee and are based on their interest, experience, and skill level. This cannot be done manually if you want to cater to a larger group.

3 use cases of technology enabled internal mobility

To be able to match an employee with relevant opportunities to consider, such as jobs, projects, mentorships, or learning courses, will require that each internal mobility platform has a skill taxonomy. Each online internal mobility use case is, in essence, focusing on solving a complex matching problem. To accurately match the employee’s skills to those required in opportunities will require in-depth knowledge and transparency of both. Let’s look at use cases for skills-based internal mobility platforms.

#1. Build a talent marketplace to provide better opportunities

Creating a talent marketplace means creating a digital platform on which employees can view and apply for all internal job or project openings based on their experience, skills, and interests. Using a profile-based approach means that employees preload their skills and experiences and can thus easily apply to any job or project opening that they are suited to and that interests them. They can also send the job to a colleague if they feel them to be a better fit.

When viewing a job or project opening, any skills gap will be easily identifiable, and recommendations to close the gap will be readily at hand. A list of job applications and the status of each can be easily viewed. Managers can manage their own internal jobs with create, edit, archive, publish, and unpublish options. They can also view a list of all open jobs and all internal job applications. This way, managers can also proactively identify employees with the required skills to contact them.

#2. Provide more guidance through career pathing

An internal mobility platform can provide career pathing (a logical sequence of roles or skill profiles) advice to employees by mapping out their progress and development within the organization. An employee can select a career path that interests them and set their next and ultimate or target role. Based on these selections, they will receive identified skill gaps and recommend matching opportunities such as jobs, projects, and learning paths. The platform can compare the skills and experiences of the employee to those of current and potential internal opportunities and recommend paths to reach their desired position. Plus, it could help employees create a road map to success and track their progress toward their desired role.

Additionally, the search functionality allows the employee to manually enter two jobs to see all career paths between them so they can plan how to move to their desired role. Career paths can be defined by the manager, who sets relationships between roles. Finally, the platform could also recommend mentors and/or learning resources to gain the skills and experiences needed for the desired role.

#3. Facilitate succession planning to close the skill gap

Succession planning is an organizational process in which organizations develop strategies to identify and develop employees to fill key positions. It’s an essential part of any organization’s talent management strategy.

An internal mobility platform can assist with succession planning by providing insights into the skills and experiences of employees, enabling HR and managers to accurately identify and develop individuals for key positions. It can also recommend qualified talent that can fill certain positions and suggest career pathing options to reach an individual's target role.

How can a skills-based internal mobility platform facilitate succession planning?

Rather than relying on a manual process, employers can use the platform to map out career paths and succession plans within their organization. It can identify current and future positions and the best employees who can fill them. The platform can identify those who are suited to those roles and provide them with learning paths to close their skills gaps. A skills-based internal mobility platform can do more than just allow employees to match their own skills to opportunities. It has many benefits for the organization and managers as well.

Successor search: Roles can be flagged as requiring successors, and employees can be sorted based on the degree to which their skills match the skill requirements of the respective role. Managers can view the details of a role and see a list of all potential successor options.

Successor pipeline: Managers can view the talent pipeline for all roles urgently requiring a successor. They will be able to add the relevant roles for a matrix view of potential employees. This matrix consists of three categories, employees that have selected the role as their next role, employees that have selected the role as their target role, and employees who don’t have the role on their career path yet but could be a good fit based on their skills. Managers can also opt to be notified when someone adds a specific role to their career paths as the next or target role.

Why the best internal mobility platform alone is not enough to be successful

No discussion around internal mobility can be complete without mentioning that if the company culture is not aligned with internal mobility goals, not even the best mobility platforms can deliver efficient internal mobility programs. One of the biggest stumbling blocks is often managers not viewing talent as an organizational talent resource but rather resisting the internal moves of their prized employees. It is vital that employees feel that their applications to other areas will be seen in a positive light and will not be held against them by their current manager. On the other hand, managers need to feel confident to support a move and know that they will receive the required support once their talent moves.

Final Thought

Having the ability to leverage your top talent has many benefits for the organization and employees. Having the reputation as a company that values employees and promotes from within creates a brand image that is hard to beat. An efficient internal mobility program that is supported by company culture and processes is a major step towards achieving this employer brand.

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edyoucated is funded by leading research institutions such as the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).

Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (BIBB)