employee internal movement
Training & Learning

Why Internal Movement for Employees Should Be Your Top Priority in 2024

Just like we need to move muscles in the human body to stay nimble and fit, internal movement of employees has a similar effect on the health of an organization. Internal movement gives your staff opportunities to move into different roles and progress their career within the same company, improving employee retention and engagement. 

Plus, this often goes hand-in-hand with a culture of knowledge-sharing and continuous learning. Internal movement helps organizations stay agile and maintain growth, especially in times of economic slowdown.

When facing pressure from higher-ups to increase cost savings, internal movement can help companies avoid mass layoffs. Organizations can reskill or upskill staff, and move employees laterally to other departments or functions, depending on how much support is needed. 

At a time when job security feels uncertain due to an unpredictable market, internal movement can also increase company morale and employee loyalty. And building a positive reputation as an employer who cares and puts its people first can help recruiting efforts in the long-run, when the organization begins hiring externally again. 

The 7 biggest roadblocks to building a flexible working culture

So, you want to build a flexible working culture?

What is internal movement?

Internal movement happens when an employee moves to a different role or department within the company. Also known as internal mobility, it is a way for employees to grow their careers and learn a different aspect of the business while staying at the same company. These are the two most common types of internal movement: 

  • Lateral move: Staying at the same level, but moving to a different department or role.
  • Upward move: Involves a promotion and movement into a higher role.

Sometimes, an internal move could be both lateral and upward. For instance, if a senior-level sales employee wants to apply for a managerial role in the marketing team, it would mean moving to a different department and into a higher position than their current role. 

Below we’ll further explain five ways that practicing internal movement can benefit your entire organization and workforce.

1. Protects your employees from layoffs and builds a people-first reputation

Internal movement is an effective way to invest in your employees and win their trust, especially in times of economic turmoil or market volatility. 

With the current economic downturn, budgets are tight and new projects and customers are harder to come by. Unfortunately, outsized growth and overhiring during the pandemic has also led to many big tech companies executing mass layoffs to extend their financial runway and appease concerned investors. 

But this hurts thousands of working people financially and emotionally, and can tarnish a company’s reputation. With internal movement, also referred to as “quiet hiring”, companies can instead help their employees move into different roles based on their individual interests and the business's most pressing needs. 

For example, during a recession, it’s common to prioritize customer retention over new customer acquisition. Instead of letting go of part of the marketing team, you could open up internal opportunities for them to move laterally into customer success roles. 

This way, you reallocate staff into roles that benefit the company’s current priorities, protect your employees’ jobs, and build a strong reputation as a people-first company. 

Zapier, an automation platform, recently set a stellar example of internal movement. The company built a “secondment program” which temporarily reassigned employees to new roles or projects outside the work they were initially hired to do. They avoided layoffs by leveraging the skills of every team member, to add value in critical areas of the business that needed extra support.

2. Helps you upskill employees from within and stay productive

Internal movement helps employees transfer key skills and develop new ones. Upskilling from within is an excellent cost-saving technique for L&D and HR teams–especially during uncertain times. 

Like Zapier, you can leverage your existing employees’ skills and interests to meet new business goals and priorities. Give employees different projects or new responsibilities that are relevant to their experience and background, and watch them flourish in the new position.

To do so, you need to provide employees with the resources and tools they need to learn and apply new skills in their jobs. Comprehensive learning platforms like 360Learning use the power of collaborative learning to leverage your internal expertise and upskill your workforce.

New work experiences can boost employee confidence and productivity, and their success encourages other teammates to pursue new internal opportunities too. 

When you can do more with less, L&D budget cuts no longer remain a major blocker to business growth or career development. And internal recruitment is financially viable because you can compensate internal transfers with bonuses, raises, additional paid time off, or even more flexibility—all less expensive options than recruiting and onboarding a new hire.

Do More With Less Cover

L&D budget conversation? Nail it with these talking points.

3. Boosts employee engagement and retention

Internal movement enables your existing employees to see a future at your company. The modern-day workforce is more open to non-linear career paths, and considers skills development and fulfillment at work as top priorities. The Great Resignation made it clear that employees are willing to quit if they don’t see growth initiatives or a work-life balance at a company. In the war for the top talent, internal movement is key to motivating your employees to stick around at the company. 

In one Gartner survey, only 33% of candidates said they searched for internal roles within their organization when looking for a new job. This suggests that employees are either not aware or don’t feel encouraged to look at new opportunities under their current employer. 

Companies can step up their internal movement program by posting vacancies on internal job boards, and providing personalized learning paths for employees in their areas of interest. This makes team members feel valued and invested in, improving engagement and employee retention.

4. Creates knowledge sharing and continuous learning opportunities

Successful internal mobility relies on strong learning & development initiatives. From in-house courses with online discussion forums, to engaging microlearning sessions, peer training opens the door to new roles and responsibilities within the company. 

This creates the perfect environment for a collaborative and continuous learning culture. Utilizing internal subject matter expertise to fill skills gaps is another way to increase your training ROI. Your subject matter experts are far more familiar with your business processes and company objectives than external trainers. So SMEs can create learning content that is more relevant, useful, and actionable compared to generic courses provided by outside content agencies.

Creating a solid system for knowledge-sharing in your organization supports a continuous learning and training culture that makes internal hiring easier and quicker. 

5. Builds a culture of collaboration and mentorship

When you make internal movement a business priority, employees feel encouraged to collaborate with each other. And we know that internal movement and upskilling from within work best in a collaborative work environment. 

To support collaborative learning, your organization should have mentors and coaches that contribute to learning academies, initiate career conversations, and provide support to fellow team members. 

In this type of learning organization, employees don’t receive direct instructions but instead upskill with peer training, crowdsourcing solutions, and developing nascent talents. This is a far more effective way to upskill into a new role than by sitting through hours of training programs.

Make internal movement easier with collaborative learning

With a collaborative learning solution like 360Learning, it’s easy for employees to share knowledge, mentor teammates, and upskill from within with personalized training paths. 

Plus, you can increase learner engagement by gamifying your courses with leaderboards, scores, and varied levels of difficulty. Adding fun interactive elements and a bit of healthy competition are great motivators to learn new skills on the job. Curious to see how else 360Learning can help future-proof your workforce? Sign up for a personalized demo below. 

Book your 360Learning demo now

  • A 30-minute overview of the platform

  • 100% tailored to your needs - with ❤️

  • No commitment. Free as can be.