Five Ways to Encourage Internal Mobility in Your Organization 

Many organizations might be frustrated with their recruiting efforts, especially when it comes to building a pipeline of candidates for future openings. Don’t forget that organizations have a built-in talent pipeline — it’s their workforce. Organizations can use internal mobility to fill positions, and then replace the employees who made the move. Not only can this approach be good for the company’s recruiting strategy, but it’s also great for employee morale. 
But this does mean that organizations need to have a clear plan in place when it comes to internal mobility. Let’s start with defining what internal mobility means. 

  • Promotions are when an employee moves into a position of greater responsibility (and usually gets a pay increase). 
  • Laterals happen when an employee moves into a position of a similar pay grade, but it does change their work responsibilities. 
  • Demotions often have a negative connotation, but they are a form of internal mobility and, in some cases, exactly the right move for an employee. One step back today could become two steps forward in the future.  
  • Transfers might involve some combination of these. An employee transfer means the employee is working in a new division, department, or with a new team. It may include new responsibilities and a change in pay.  

If you’re looking to encourage more internal mobility, here are five things to consider. 
Redefine career paths. Organizations often think of career moves in a linear fashion. The reality is that lateral moves and even demotions can create career learning opportunities which ultimately lead to stronger career paths. HR departments should encourage the organization to view career pathing in a more fluid way. 
Talk about mobility early. As organizations redefine career paths, they need to be prepared to talk about them. Some organizations are reluctant to discuss internal mobility with candidates and new hires because they want the person to focus on their current role. Another way to think about this is talking about internal mobility during interviews, orientation, and onboarding so employees can focus on their current role. Tell new hires what the future looks like, so they understand how their role today may impact their future. 
Encourage managers to discuss mobility during 1:1 meetings. Managers should encourage their teams to learn and grow. Sometimes that involves moving to another division, department, or role. Some managers might think if employees don’t move, it makes them look better. The truth is that sometimes, when there’s no team movement, it can stagnate productivity and create turnover. 
Track it with metrics. This ties into the last comment about managers and team movement. Organizations should track how much internal movement they have. Maybe even track it by manager, so that managers who do a great job of growing talent and helping them move are rewarded for their behavior. 
Put programs in place to set internal moves up for success. Organizations have preboarding, orientation, and onboarding programs to help set up new hires for success. Many also offer buddy or mentoring programs. It’s important to give the same level of attention to internal moves. An onboarding program for an internal move doesn’t have to look exactly the same as for a new hire — because there are things a current employee already knows — but there are also things they don’t. 
If organizations want employee retention — and we all know they do — then helping an employee achieve their career goals is essential. Internal mobility does that. But internal mobility cannot be a secret. Organizations should talk about it and prepare employees for it. But first, develop the clear plan that leads to individual and organizational success.