A common job interview question - “Where do you see yourself in five years?” - may actually have a simple but undesirable answer for much of the workforce: “Working somewhere else.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, close to 50% of employees have been with their current employer less than four years, and a little less than half of those (21%) for less than a year.
These numbers can be sobering for companies focused on attracting and especially engaging and retaining talent. It’s nevertheless reflective of how traditional careers have transformed as employees can now expect to have a number of different employers and even functional roles.
One solution is to bring all of those transitions inside of a single organization, leveraging the concept of talent mobility to help reinvent the career, according to Josh Bersin of Deloitte.
There is a confluence of several factors that signal the need for greater internal talent mobility. Related to the above, the talent market is more transparent than ever, offering an endless supply of potential opportunities. Organizations themselves are increasingly flatter and more agile, requiring less middle management and more project or team-based leadership. Finally, there is also a greater demand for on-the-job development as opportunities and assignments appear within those teams.
Talent mobility means taking advantage of these dynamics rather than trying to minimize their effects, and developing a full-spectrum solution for retention, learning, engagement, and leadership development. It means allowing employees to move around the company, with the support to take risks and contribute while learning a new role.
One area that is essential to making all of this work is an effective reward and recognition strategy that communicates the value and importance of talent mobility within the organization. As Josh writes in the post, several areas that need to be considered include: incentivizing internal hires over external candidates; recognition that encourages lateral and developmental moves; rewarding managers who can develop rather than just hang on to talent; and communication of the importance of cross-company moves and contributions.
Because talent mobility introduces a much more dynamic and relationship-based view of the organization, social recognition is well-suited to many of the tasks noted above and ensuring a robust talent mobility strategy in pursuit of greater retention goals.
Perhaps most importantly, as employees move around the organization, recognition follows, providing a complete view of contributions and connections made across the different areas. This becomes increasingly important as the number of moves (and potential managers) increases. Managers themselves can be recognized for a wider range of behaviors in support of talent mobility, including the extent to which they support their direct reports or provide opportunities for development within and outside of their areas.
Recognition that is social also provides everyone in the organization with visibility into what teams are forming and what projects are being undertaken. This view facilitates the collective knowledge of the company of skills, abilities, and experiences, increasing the likelihood that employees are successfully matched with their roles. It also provides a strong narrative of how mobility has contributed to organizational values and successes, and gives employees real-life examples of what success can look like.
Talent mobility is a promising strategy, and one that can be successfully deployed using a flexible recognition and reward strategy. It is clear that such programs will need to reflect the increasing dynamism of an internally mobile workforce, while providing insight into the contributions made across different spaces.
How would a talent mobility strategy work within your own company? What solutions and resources would help make it a success?
As Globoforce’s Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world. He is the co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and his articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @DerekIrvine.