As the war for talent scales unprecedented heights, organisations are looking for newer and better ways of attracting, developing and retaining talent. Dichotomous as it may sound, the internal pool of talent still continues to be grossly under-leveraged. Often, in large complex organisations, while the recruiters are struggling to find the right candidate externally, the most qualified internal employee might be looking for a similar job

According to a recent LinkedIn study, 33% of employees rate career growth as their No.1 motivation to explore opportunities outside their current employers. This is a scary number. It is high time that organisations start leveraging their own internal talent resources and access. However, this advantage comes to only the deserving organisations.

So what is talent mobility?

In the broader strategic context, talent mobility will include all movement of an employee during his/her career journey, within or outside an organisation.

It is estimated that the newer generation (Millennial?) may end up changing up to 7 careers and 22 jobs by the time they hit their retirement age. Imagine the loss if employers are NOT able to facilitate at least some of these movements within the organisation. Ironically, some organisations today do not consider an attrition to be avoidable or undesired if an individual has decided to make a career transition or pursue a different life goal. It sounds like the pigeon closing the eyes when the cat comes.

Organisations can have tremendous positive impact on their bottom line as well as the top line by leveraging talent mobility. However, they will need to work towards building an ecosystem where, like any other strategic advantage, talent mobility can be leveraged.

So what are the key imperatives for an organisation to have leverage talent mobility to its advantage?

  1. Talent Insights: A large number of organisations are unable to leverage the full potential of internal talent mobility because the HR team fails to provide meaningful talent insights. This is largely due to the unavailability of unified, multi-dimensional data that is factually correct and current. According to an Oracle-PWC study, there are approximately 175 data points that could impact an employee’s feeling about his/her current assignment and trigger attrition risk. Organisations need to be able to track such seemingly irrelevant yet functionally critical data points.
  2. Strategically drafted development paths: A large number of organisations are reactive in mobilising talent. Sudden expansion or unforeseen loss of talent often triggers movement of people within the organisation, leaving little room for fitment analysis. My own very optimistic estimate is that ‘no more than 5% organisations in India’ have a scientific planned talent mobility strategy mapped to key roles. This will need strategically drafted development paths that individuals tread in real life. It is rare that the development paths are used as maps for navigating employee journeys in real life.
  3. Talent review with real-time insights: The good news is that more and more organisations are realising the importance of the Talent Review process. The bad news is most of them are struggling to collate insights about the individuals for the process. This is largely due to silo’ed HR systems, processes and data capturing mechanisms. The real benefit of the talent review process comes when the discussions are based on potential, perceptions and performance backed by real-time data. Too often talent review is largely focused on potential review.
  4. The culture of Mobility: Like any other resource, business managers tend to be protective of their key talent and can be the biggest roadblocks to internal Talent Mobility. Many individuals have decided to quit their current organisations, simply because the internal political dynamics do not allow them to pursue the role of their choice. CEOs and not just CHROs need to constantly work towards creating a culture of mobility within the organisation. Transparency through real-time data and analytics can be the biggest lever for such a culture transformation.
  5. Employee as owners of their career: Organisations need to provide platforms to employees to search and apply for jobs of their choice within the organisations – like any other external candidate. Often regressive practices like tenure, past PMS rating, manager’s consent etc. act as an impediment to talent mobility. Providing a role of choice to an employee is not a favour anymore – it is a winning strategy in the war for talent.

As more and more organisations work toward transforming their human resources strategy, they must look at talent mobility as a central lever of their overall HCM effectiveness.

Mr Shaakun Khanna
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