One of the biggest changes to occur in the workforce over the past decade is the reinvention of the traditional career path. In the past, employees would join a company and stay for life, working their way through the ranks. Modern workers, however, have a completely different agenda. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker stays at a company for 4.6 years, with millennials (ages 25 to 34) averaging 3.2 years.
Why is it that so many workers jump ship so quickly? Well, many employees now seek strong career growth and development, and, oftentimes, feel as though their current companies do not offer this. Because of this, one of the largest challenges businesses currently face is employee retention. In fact, 90 percent of employers say new hire retention is an issue, according to a recent Korn Ferry Futurestep internal mobility survey.
In order to refrain from losing high performers to a competitive job market, organizations must prioritize internal hiring and mobility. Research has shown that 87 percent of employers believe that internal mobility programs would definitely help with retention, so expect to see a rise in these kinds of programs throughout 2018.
In addition to boosting retention, there are many benefits to adopting internal mobility programs:
- Current employees are already well-versed in the company’s procedures and have a strong understanding of the company culture, allowing them to hit the ground running in their new role.
- Because of performance reviews and manager evaluations, many companies have significant amounts of data on their employees. While this information has traditionally been used for accountability reasons, it is a great tool for understanding where an employee’s skills lie and encouraging proper growth.
- Given the rapid pace at which technology develops, it can be quite difficult to find the right talent with the right tech skills. It’s often quicker, more affordable and simply more efficient to train an internal candidate rather than seek out an external hire.
- Providing employees with a clear and flexible career path will motivate and incentivize high performers to achieve and contribute even more to the company.
Initiating Internal Mobility
Internal mobility starts when employers create a culture that puts an emphasis on the professional growth and skill development of their current employees. Organizations can spearhead this process by engaging and educating managers, as they are typically responsible for hiring candidates and building out teams.
As it turns out, not all leaders are accustomed to promoting organizational shifts and internal moves and may require coaching. Another recent Futurestep survey noted that approximately 32 percent of executives said employees felt as though they had to hide the fact that they were applying for new positions within their company from their managers. In order to combat this stigma, managers must recognize the long-term value of internal mobility and feel empowered to have honest and open conversations with employees to learn about their skills, experiences and aspirations. The more transparency, the better.
Here are four ways in which companies can further improve their internal mobility programs and create a culture of opportunity:
- Give employees the option to look at and apply to open positions before external candidates.
- Offer employees the skill development, training and resources they deserve. This way, everyone will be prepared to take on new responsibilities and challenges when the opportunities appear.
- Identify the high performers and the high-potential employees. Invest in their futures. Motivate them, coach them, mentor them.
- Encourage multidirection movement. When people think of internal mobility, they typically think of upward mobility. Sometimes, it’s best to shift positions and let workers test out their skills in different departments.
Looking forward, rather than strictly relying on external hires to grow the company, focus on leveraging current talent and facilitating internal movement. Many workers already have the necessary skills, even if they don’t utilize them in their current positions, and can quickly learn new skills with a bit of training and coaching. The potential is there, so why waste it?
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all algorithm for hiring, and this doesn’t necessarily mean that all positions should always be filled from within. It’s best to determine a corporation’s needs, assess the talent and nature of the role and recruit accordingly. External hires do have value, as they can bring fresh ideas, perspectives and new skills to the company.
In the coming years, though, we will see more and more business leaders finding various ways to reskill and promote existing employees in an effort to maximize employee retention and engagement. The long-term benefits will be well worth the time and effort it takes to create an environment that both guides and inspires employees’ career paths.
Juliana Barela is vice president of client accounts Korn Ferry Futurestep. To comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.