Internal mobility: a strengths and data-based approach

As the Great Resignation continues to impact the UK and other global economies, the need for organizations to encourage and enable internal mobility has never been stronger.

41% of respondents to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, stated they were likely to consider leaving their current job within the next year and in Microsoft’s 2022 Work Index, 52% of Gen Z and Millennials are likely to consider changing employers this year. This leaves a monumental challenge for organizations needing to recruit new employees at speed.  But what if they didn’t have to?

Internal mobility could hold the answer to many organization’s woes, but only if they are able to invest in their existing talent pipelines.

Recent research by industry expert Bersin found that only 11% of companies offer formal career programmes for employees, so in many individuals’ minds, the only opportunity to move forward in their career is by leaving.

The astute manager will help individuals think through what their strengths are, and how they can craft their current and future roles to harness these and help them reach their career goals. Importantly, managers need to be explicit that this is their ‘strengths-based personalized career journey’ approach so that individuals don’t feel they are lacking if there is nothing ‘formal’ in place.

Strengths are the things we are naturally good at and enjoy, as such, they are often the best predictor of an individual’s potential. The ability to be successful in a specific role is linked not only to previous experience of a similar job type, but to an individual’s potential evidenced through their strengths.

To encourage internal mobility as the norm over automatically trying to recruit new employees and meet the aspirations of existing employees, organizations will need to:

  • Harness the power of data and analysis. Use insight tools to uncover what strengths, skills and potential you have in your organization and in individual teams, where are the gaps, and who could be matched?

Scrutinize your employee engagement data to look for themes to address; and identify organizational critical career experiences through analysis of top performers.

Analyze your exit interview data for themes and report on this regularly.

  • Empower your people to be their own career activists. Encourage meaningful self-reflection and give them compelling development interventions (with manager support). Encourage reflection time on strengths and the transferable skills – help employees look for opportunities to deploy these talents on new projects or tasks
  • Promote career development opportunities widely internally, before heading straight for the external recruitment button

Often employees are not aware of the opportunities for them to grow and develop within an organization they are already a part of.  Ensure that communication explores non-linear career moves – lateral moves that enable employees to develop skills such as mentoring others or mastery around technical skills.

For example, in research conducted by Cappfinity in early 2022, one senior HRBP in Media shared how, “we have a career path framework and we have a dedicated microsite –– it has a living library where about 100 people bring to life their roles at the organization. We also have an initiative called ‘hot shoes’ where you get to spend 1 day per week in another team.”

  • Set-up peer mentorship to maximize the value of colleagues and networks

Our extended or more distanced networks reduced significantly during the pandemic, according to analysis of email and Teams traffic as part of the 2021 Microsoft Trends Index – so we need to help individuals re-build social capital across the organization.

Establishing a career development buddy system with cross-functional peers who can meet and support each other will help rebuild some of those links and merge different networks – so that people are aware of opportunities across the organization.  Consider training up internal career coaches and make them available to employees seeking advice.

 Provide your people with new, varied and stretching experiences. Identify high visibility projects, that enable employees to build new skills and experience in different teams. Facilitate Secondments around the business, maximize any leaves of absence and create a formal process to make this happen.

Again, from Cappfinity’s 2022 interviews: “We’re resurrecting work we did on career paths before the pandemic… what we need to do now is really understand the future capabilities we’ll require and then we will prioritize career paths linking to those skills so that we can ‘grow our own’. We’ve got lots of great ideas, but it’s not enough – the challenge is moving beyond ‘nods’ from senior leadership and putting it all into action.” Head of People, Strategy and Organizational Development, Travel.

Many of the leaders we work with have been a part of their organization for several years, choosing to grow and develop in a business they are passionate and knowledgeable about.  Unlike new hires, they already understand how things work, what has been done before and have the inside edge on how to continue to be successful. A key role for leaders right now is to share this intel widely, and to inspire others to harness their strengths to go for, and succeed in, new internal opportunities.

We understand that often the immediate response to the resignation of one employee is to post a job advert externally, but if organizations can provide practical steps to enable more internal mobility, they will be in an even stronger position to whether the storm of the Great Resignation now to make for a stronger organization in the future.

To find out how Cappfinity can support your internal mobility strategy, please contact