TA Teams Place Little Value on Internal Mobility, Survey Shows 

Research from Talent Board reveals that recruiting professionals rank internal mobility last among their priorities this year.

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Mar 9, 2023

North American talent acquisition teams laid out their priorities for 2023 in Talent Board’s end-of-2022 recruiting focus survey. Topping their list are:

  1. Onboarding
  2. Candidate experience
  3. Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  4. Employee referrals
  5. Screening and interviewing
  6. Employer branding

Internal mobility made the list as well — as priority No. 12. Even after two monthly CandE Pulse surveys, it’s now last on the list.

It’s concerning that internal mobility isn’t a higher priority. It’s true that TA doesn’t always have the purview into retention strategies, but talent shortfalls are predicted to worsen, and 75% of employers have already struggled to recruit qualified candidates.

Internal mobility programs are an antidote to these problems, helping companies retain precious talent and the valuable skills and organizational knowledge they possess.

Second-guessing TA teams’ priorities hardly seems fair, given what they’re up against. Many of their companies are still recovering and rebuilding in the wake of the pandemic, the current reshuffling shows no signs of abating, and many recruiting departments and budgets have been pared to the bone. Oh, and millions of open jobs still need to be filled.

Despite having their hands full, TA teams have to make internal mobility a bigger priority. Until they do, they’ll continue to suffer their current fate — searching vainly for qualified talent in a shrinking global pool.

Career Tracks Are Leading People out the Door

Employers frequently tout their commitment to internal mobility and promoting people from within. Research, however, is calling this commitment into question.

For example, McKinsey & Company examined the work histories of roughly 4 million workers across multiple countries. It found that workers change jobs every two to four years on average, and 80% of these job changes are workers moving from one employer to another.

“Far fewer involved people being promoted into more senior roles or branching into different specializations within their existing organizations,” McKinsey researchers noted. “This seems to indicate that many employers do not have internal advancement tracks that are wide enough to keep most people growing and working toward higher rewards over time. Individuals who want new challenges and opportunities for growth, or who want to reinvent their careers or take on more senior roles, often have to go to a new company to do so.”

If there was ever any uncertainty about the importance that employees place on advancement and professional growth, the Great Resignation eradicated it. One of the top three reasons people quit their jobs during this period was lack of advancement opportunities. This seems like yet another reason for TA professionals to make internal mobility a higher priority this year.

In more than a decade of studying the candidate/employee experience, Talent Board has found that some companies are simply better at nurturing internal mobility and retention. They not only build programs to support the professional growth and advancement of employees but they also establish targets for these programs, hold managers and TA team members accountable, and track the results. It’s part of their culture, a way to invest in their own future.

Doing all of this pays big dividends. According to talent lifecycle management company, Beamery, employees who engage with internal mobility programs have higher levels of engagement and an average tenure that’s 2.5 times longer than that of their coworkers. In today’s talent market, results like these are pure gold.

It’s worth noting that, in Talent Board’s research, companies providing the world’s highest-rated candidate experiences treat their internal candidates with greater care than their peer companies.

For instance, they provide feedback to internal finalist candidates more often, a practice that too many companies continue to neglect. Providing feedback conveys respect for candidates, gives them closure when they don’t get the job, and significantly increases their willingness to refer others to the company.

It’s also worth noting that some employers have a perception gap when it comes to the career advancement needs of frontline (hourly) employees, as highlighted by recent research from McKinsey & Company. Employers “tend to put a premium” on intangible benefits and motivators, such as recognition and job fulfillment, where frontline employees are concerned.

While these things are unquestionably important to exempt and management level employees, they’re much less relevant to frontline workers, who want more opportunities to advance their careers and their pay. This doesn’t only mean upward mobility. It includes role-to-role mobility, project mobility, and departmental or group transfers.

Given companies’ endless need for talent and growing global talent shortfalls, can TA departments afford to wait another year to make internal mobility a higher priority?

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