Blog Post

Mind the Gap: Why HR and Employees Must Work Together on Talent Mobility

Kimberly Cassady

Chief Talent Officer, Cornerstone

The modern world of work values innovation over tradition, creating a new set of requirements for both business and individual success.

Tenure, which used to be the gold standard of employee loyalty, is losing its influence. Employers now want fresh thinking, while employees want a breadth of skills and new opportunities. The "career ladder," which used to offer checkpoints for success, is crumbling. The traditional climb from "Associate" to "VP" feels stale with new emerging industries , offering positions and titles that didn’t even exist five years ago. Benefits, which haven’t changed since the advent of the 401(k) in the late 1970s, are expanding. A market-rate paycheck, healthcare and retirement savings are now the bare minimum with companies offering wellness programs, team bonding activities, training seminars and more.

Organizations and job seekers alike must constantly think about how to be better, know more and act faster to stay relevant. And the name of this new game is talent mobility.

While not a new term, talent mobility is not just about succession planning anymore – today, it touches all areas of the employee lifecycle, whether it is recruiting, learning and development, or performance discussions and goal setting. Mobility also encompasses opportunities to work in different job roles, cities and countries, creating entirely new career paths.

What Talent Mobility Means for You

Talent mobility, or career mobility, is inherently cooperative. In order for a company to learn and grow, employees must learn and grow, too. This doesn’t mean you need to only hire "job hoppers," or even that your employees should constantly be looking for a new role. It means you need to create an organization of chutes and ladders — where employees can move up and across your company to understand and contribute to multiple aspects of the business.

Mobility is more than a buzzword. More than 80 percent of organizations that are committed talent mobilizers report reaching or exceeding their revenue growth goals—compared to 68 percent of other companies. The problem? According to Cornerstone’s recent Career Trends Report, talent mobility is still rare to find. It’s time for business leaders, HR, and employees to mind the gap in talent mobility, and work together to create a more growth-focused work landscape. Based on our research, here are three ways to start.

Have Initial and Ongoing Conversations

A good employee leaders inherently value career development — after all, the purpose of leadership roles should be helping people reach their potential. However, while 33 percent of HR professionals say career development tools are the most important benefit an employer can offer outside of health insurance and a competitive salary, most departments aren’t demonstrating that they value career development (through talk or action).

In fact, 67 percent of employed Americans don’t think their employer is open to having discussions about their next career step. And out of the 78 percent of employees who sought career advice in the last 12 months, only 18 percent have turned to their HR department or manager (the majority look to friends or family first).

If you value career development (and you should), tell your employees. Creating a culture of feedback and development doesn’t require a huge upfront budget, and you can follow-up with more sophisticated strategies as you grow.

Hire Internally First

The majority of companies are missing out on talent that exists in their own backyard. Hiring Managers admit that 63 percent of open positions at their companies were filled with external talent over the last two years, and yet 85 percent of HR professionals agree that it costs significantly more to hire someone from outside the company. At the same time, employees would prefer to stay with their company in a new position than jump ship entirely. Cornerstone’s study found that 66 percent of employed Americans first look to see if their company has an interesting position before looking at other organizations for new roles.

The takeaway? Look internally first to fill an open position. You’ll save time and money, and your employees will be more engaged.

Invest in the Right Technology

When it comes to the importance of technology, HR and employees are on the same page: 91 percent of HR professionals and 91 percent of employees think technology is crucial for enabling career development.

Unfortunately, in reality, far fewer companies offer tech tools. Cornerstone’s Career Trends Report found that 54 percent of HR professionals admit their company doesn’t provide career development tools, such as online reviews or learning software. From the employees’ perspective, the lack is even higher: 84 percent of employed Americans say that their employer doesn’t provide resources to help plan their career.

The solution is to start small with the right technology. You don’t need to offer a full suite of talent management tools right away, or jump immediately into prescriptive analytics. Instead, try launching a pilot mobile learning program or introducing tools that enable employees to market their expertise, interests and skills within your company.

Trusting in talent mobility will not only create a more engaged workforce, but also ensure that your company stays competitive in our fast-changing world. Communicating with employees, investing in internal talent, and offering the right technology will help you create a company built for the future.

Photo: Creative Commons

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