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Why an internal mobility strategy makes good business sense

Lee Robertson | 06/02/2019

An ultra-competitive labour market and skills shortage are leading to organisations taking longer to recruit with some reports of businesses even having to give up on finding the talent they want to hire. So, what can companies do to turn the situation around?

One school of thought coming out of last year’s Global Peter Drucker Forum is that more needs to be made of the untapped potential organisations already have at their disposal. Vastly underutilised, an existing workforce can often be discounted as organisations look externally to fill their vacant positions and it’s proving to be an expensive exercise.

2018’s Open University Business Barometer, which monitors the state of skills within the UK job market, reported that employers were facing a hefty bill just to remain productive. British firms forked out an eye-watering extra £633 billion last year to cover recruitment fees and inflated pay for new hires, while £1.49 billion went on bringing in temporary staff. This also included a spend of £1.45 billion on training up workers just to try and plug the skills gap.

The recruitment drive is not the only headache employers are faced with. The CIPD’s Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey, published in partnership with Hays back in 2017, explored trends in resourcing and talent planning strategies. It found that many organisations anticipated putting a greater focus on developing in-house talent and investing more effort and time into the quality of candidates to up staff retention levels. To achieve this, it revealed that the most common action being taken by employers was to increase the training and development opportunities offered to staff, followed by an improved induction process and improving benefits packages.

Although there is an obvious intention to improve staff turnover rates, there is still much more that can be done. A Deloitte Review called ‘Are you overlooking your greatest source of talent?’ was issued last summer and it does a great job in asking why so many companies don’t have a culture of internal mobility.

Some of it can be explained by poor communications as a lot of companies don’t advertise vacancies internally and their workforce can be spread over numerous locations and business sectors. However, the Deloitte Review also identified that some companies are shooting themselves in the foot by having a culture of actively discouraging managers of “poaching” internal workers from other departments or job functions.

Companies are beginning to wake up to the fact that they will need to take onboard a more sustainable approach to recruiting and retention if they want to keep their high-performing staff and remain competitive. Coupled with a shift in workplace demographics, the need for a mobility strategy is higher than ever especially when it can be instrumental in helping organisations see off the skills shortage and help prepare their next generation of leaders. Those companies that are already operating with an internal mobility model in place are reaping the rewards.

Fujitsu won the Best Recruitment and Talent Management Initiative category at the 2018 CIPD People Management Awards. An internal audit had revealed a worrying lack of technical skills so the tech giant used talent management and smart recruitment to head off the challenge.

Fujitsu’s HR team focused on what Generation Z employees look for in a job also and developed creative solutions that would aid the retention of high performers, including the chance to work in different offices around the world via an enhanced mobility programme. Meanwhile, its future leaders programme encouraged employees to aspire to more senior roles and 30 per cent of those enrolled in the initiative began their Fujitsu careers as graduates.

Its renewed focus on recruitment and retention has been hugely successful. Fujitsu’s willingness to adapt and listen to its potential applicants’ needs has been rewarded with rapidly closing skills gaps, while more efficient hiring practices and a focus on internal promotions saved millions in just a couple of years.

Other companies which are championing internal opportunities include the London-based five-star Royal Garden Hotel which arms each of its employees with a career map, while Credit Suisse enables its employees to explore other divisions, roles or countries, and gain experience across other areas of the business. This approach has allowed the bank to develop leaders and specialists who can serve its clients across the globe.

It should be best practice for managers to take the time to speak with staff about professional development opportunities outside of the annual review process. Career progression is at the top of many a worker’s shopping list when it comes to staying in a role or moving on. Pay rises will go some way to keeping high performing people, but companies need to demonstrate that they are investing in their people by using training and coaching to keep their star employees and their subsequent competitive edge.

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