People Management

The Rise of Internal Mobility in the Workplace

Feb 14, 2023 | By Jenna van Schoor
The Rise of Internal Mobility in the Workplace - Global SACAP

Internal mobility is becoming more important as businesses adapt and evolve. It’s critical to have a solid hiring strategy for attracting new talent. However organisations should also look within to help their teams and company grow.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what internal mobility is and why it’s important. We’ll also cover what’s getting in the way, and end off with some of the latest trends in upskilling. In addition, how these skills can be implemented in a dynamic workplace that supports lateral growth.

What is internal mobility?

Internal mobility is nothing new. It’s always been possible for people to make lateral moves within an organisation, even if it isn’t always routine. However, due to the pandemic, or what LinkedIn calls the Great Reshuffle, people’s attitudes toward work and growth are changing, which has led many to leave their jobs and seek job opportunities elsewhere.

According to research by LinkedIn, there were 4.5 million voluntary quits in the US in 2021, and over 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their jobs over the next 3-6 months. This means that organisations could be losing talent. Therefore, there is an opportunity to harness internal talent instead of only looking to hire externally. 

To avoid losing talent, and to create a culture of hiring and upskilling internally, companies can build a more robust and dynamic organisation that is naturally able to respond to both internal and external changes.

Why is it important?

Internal mobility reflects the need to create a flexible company culture, which can adapt and thrive, even in tumultuous times. It’s no longer enough to pay lip service to attractive perks and benefits that don’t truly value employees and their career paths. It’s now critical to walk the talk when it comes to both individual and organisational growth by investing in staff and their goals.

An article by LinkedIn mentions that external hiring, while still important, is expensive. It takes time and resources to recruit new staff, train them and guide them to adjust to a new culture and way of working. On the other hand, existing employees are already integrated into the culture, and can more easily pivot and shift into new roles.

Power dynamics have also shifted, as employees are no longer dependent on one organisation to help grow their careers. There is much greater variety in the marketplace now, which means that hiring and securing talent is a competitive strategy. Therefore, organisations must find ways to retain staff in the longer term.

If we take a look at the kinds of skills that will be required for the future of work, we can also see how organisations can benefit from adopting a more dynamic and collaborative approach in how they operate. These include skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, empathy and leadership.

What is getting in the way?

The concept of the corporate ladder is outdated in our fast-evolving and dynamic world, but it’s still very much ingrained in many people’s minds as a pathway to success. For this reason, companies can unwittingly create limiting structures that don’t allow people to grow and expand in a multifaceted way. 

Power dynamics certainly play a role here, but being resistant to internal mobility is also due to a limited view of growth itself. However, by having a growth mindset, organisations can start to harness the benefits of upskilling and allowing employees to make lateral moves, which can create the dynamism needed to adapt and thrive in a competitive world.

Other challenges that come along with the corporate ladder mindset are silos. These are a remnant of an industrial working paradigm, where workers are responsible for isolated tasks, and there’s no room for collaboration, as the work needs to get done, and quickly! Breaking down silos is now easier than ever in a world of human-machine collaboration and technological tools, but it also requires a rethink of established hierarchies. 

To break down traditional hierarchical structures further, companies also need to address issues such as favouritism, which can prevent other qualified employees from even being able to apply for new roles or move into new departments. This is also related to diversity, and addressing inequalities within a company that can be based on subconscious prejudices.

Addressing the issues above will help to shift the concept of the corporate ladder from a one-way growth trajectory towards the “top”, into more of a scaffolding approach, where employees can move up and across. If we think of how much more robust scaffolding is as opposed to a single ladder, we can also see why this kind of concept is important to integrate into a business in the long term.

In addition to taking a different approach towards hiring for new or vacant roles within an organisation, there is also an opportunity to create and build talent within the organisation through upskilling. 

For example, there doesn’t necessarily need to be vacant roles for someone to start building the necessary skills to be able to add value in multiple departments. If employees are regularly upskilling in critical skills, there is already an available talent pool that can be tapped into when new needs arise in the business. 

This is what is referred to as Learning and Development (L&D), which in many organisations has become a department on its own. In addition to serving a human resources function, L&D also analyses what other skills an organisation needs to thrive and adapt. This can include upskilling employees in leadership and management know-how, as well as communication skills, conflict management and intercultural competence. 

In a competitive marketplace, individuals are focused on building their own career paths, independent of which company they work for. To harness this kind of focus on growth, companies can work together with their staff to build individualised career plans, and incentivise them to develop their careers together in the long term.

Build your internal mobility skill set with SACAP Global

If you’re looking to develop a growth mindset in your organisation, or want to build a more dynamic skill set, SACAP Global can help you to achieve your future-ready goals.

We offer a range of specialised short courses in the fields of Applied Psychology, Leadership and Management, Human Resources and Counselling, with a focus on interactive and accessible online learning. 

Are you a manager looking to enhance internal mobility in your business? You might be interested in our Employee Motivation and Wellness micro-credential. As an aspiring manager, you can expand your knowledge and learn more about business with Intro to Business Environments. Those looking to optimise their career paths with future-ready skills can also register for other micro-credentials like Advanced Interpersonal Communication, which can help you to refine your interpersonal communication abilities. 

We will also be offering a wider variety of topical courses throughout 2023. Make sure to stay up to date with all of the latest developments by subscribing to our mailers. You can also browse our short courses for more information, or get in touch with us if you have any questions!

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