August 24, 2020

To Enable Internal Mobility, Focus on Your Skills Inventory

To Enable Internal Mobility, Focus on Your Skills Inventory

Skills-based workforce planning for internal mobility

An organization’s hiring strategy is arguably the most important tool for keeping its operations running smoothly. But the focus shouldn’t solely be on recruiting new talent. L&D teams should also be looking to strengthen their organizational skills inventory by equipping existing employees with new capabilities to enable internal mobility. 

Numerous studies have concluded that it is cheaper to upskill and reskill internal employees than to find new ones. They’ve also found that external hires often get paid more and perform worse

This is backed up by statistics. Replacing a mid-level employee can cost 20% of their annual salary. Meanwhile, replacing a high-level employee can cost up to 213% of their annual salary, meaning a C-suite executive making $100,000 per year can cost up to $213,000 to replace.

Despite this, many employees say it’s easier to find new roles externally rather than internally. That just doesn’t make sense.

At a time when employee attrition rates are surging, and organizations are battling with digital skills gaps, L&D teams must recognize the opportunities that internal mobility presents and find a way to encourage and support it. 

What is internal mobility?

Internal mobility is the movement of employees within an organization to different roles, departments, projects, or locations. 

Instead of hiring externally to fill new positions or address skill gaps, internal mobility focuses on leveraging the existing talent pool within the company, usually through reskilling and upskilling. 

While there are different types of internal mobility—vertical, lateral, and geographical—we’re primarily concerned with skill-based mobility. This focuses on developing employees' skills and competencies to enable them to take on more diverse responsibilities across roles.

Why is internal mobility important?

It’s simple: Providing opportunities for career advancement and growth within an organization can significantly enhance employee retention rates. When employees see a clear path for development and progression, they are more likely to stick around. 

But why does this matter?

It all comes down to the rapid pace of digital change. It’s continuing to accelerate, and it is transforming the world of work as we know it. 

By 2030, more than 85 million jobs could go unfilled because there aren’t enough skilled workers to take them. This has employers worried. 55% admit that innovation is hampered by a lack of key skills, and estimates say that 50% of current jobs will require new skill sets by 2027

By championing internal mobility and equipping employees with the skills required to pivot according to demand, organizations can foster an agile workforce that possesses the necessary capabilities to plug skills gaps and address the challenges presented by digital transformation. 

Promoting skills-based internal mobility

HR and L&D teams are quick to look outside the organization when skills gaps arise, but many fail to realize that upskilling and reskilling go hand in hand with internal mobility. Finding the right talent and skill sets can be difficult when the underlying challenge is digital transformation.

With this in mind, these teams must stop focusing on finding the right skill sets and instead implement a strategy that prioritizes skills-based internal mobility. This strategy has two advantages: It naturally encourages mobility while also ensuring that everyone possesses the key skills needed to keep things moving.  

Here are four actionable steps you can take to begin encouraging skills-based internal mobility. 

1. Know your workforce’s skills and capabilities

To successfully promote skills-based internal mobility, you need to determine the skills and competencies your workforce possesses. You can’t act on information you don’t have. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, and most organizations will utilize a range of assessment methods, such as:

  • Direct skills assessments that assess technical skills and knowledge.
  • Performance reviews that evaluate job-specific competencies and achievements.
  • Gathering feedback from peers, managers, and subordinates.
  • Enabling employees to assess their skills based on pre-defined criteria.
  • Conducting one-on-one discussions to assess skills, experiences, and aspirations.

2. Create a skills inventory

A skills inventory is a catalog of the skills and competencies of employees within an organization. It’s a valuable resource that provides a point-in-time overview of what skills exist within the organization, enabling HR teams to assess what’s available and plan for the future. 

To create a skills inventory, first identify the skills and competencies that your organization needs and the employees who possess them. These skills should be mapped to the various roles and functions within your organization. This helps create a broad framework for internal mobility, which can then be built on. 

3. Implement AI within your tech stack

The emergence of AI-powered technology has been a game changer for skills intelligence, making long-term organizational planning easier while simultaneously improving the visibility of career development opportunities to L&D teams and eliminating some of the human biases that unconsciously impact selection.  

Implementing a tool like SkyHive into your tech stack can help you match talent and skills demand to available supply more efficiently. It does this by incorporating organizational, employee, and external data. The AI does all the heavy lifting for you and can analyze skills gaps, curate career paths, and supercharge internal mobility by creating reskilling pathways for employees.  

4. Make skills development part of your culture

Organizations that wish to enable skills-based mobility must make skills development a core part of their culture. On-the-job training, workshops, mentoring, and upskilling opportunities can help develop this culture and remove any barriers to internal movement. 

Skills development democratizes the process of skill discovery and career pathway planning, as employees can see where they fit in any role across the organization and see a clear pathway to get there. In addition, it is important to give employees easy access to targeted training to acquire the skills needed to achieve their career progression goals.

This process transforms how employees perceive and understand career progression within the agile organization, allowing for more internal mobility and increased employee engagement and retention.

Internal mobility should be your goal

Digital transformation is displacing occupations and creating new opportunities in equal measure, and the biggest challenge for organizations today is preparing their workforce with the skills needed to meet their demands and challenges. 

Instead of focusing on hiring externally to fill digital transformation skills gaps, HR and L&D teams should work together to identify employees who could be reskilled and mobilized internally to overcome these challenges. This will not only bridge skills gaps and save costs, but as a human-first approach; it empowers people to fulfill their career goals and stay in the long term.

Want to learn more about how AI-powered skills intelligence can help you supercharge your internal mobility? We’re providing complimentary access to a recent report produced in collaboration with Forrester: AI Powered Skills Intelligence Is Now A Necessity, Not A Luxury

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