man jumping representing employee mobility
Training & Learning

The Employee Mobility Strategy You Need in 2023

The global economic forecast for 2023 isn’t bright. Budget cuts, hiring freezes, and mass layoffs, especially in the tech space, have left employees and C-suites anxious about the impending storm.

L&D professionals are expected to take the lead and future-proof the business with upskilling and internal mobility initiatives. After all, upskilling your employees has huge benefits: fewer skills gaps, higher employee engagement and retention, increased productivity, and better succession planning.

But the mounting pressure means many L&D teams are scrambling to catch up—only 15% have active upskilling or reskilling programs, and just 5% are at the stage where they can measure and assess the results.

Without an upskilling program, employees lack opportunities to gain new skills, and can’t move into—or succeed in—new positions. Ultimately, teams and organizations stagnate, negatively impacting employee retention, customer satisfaction, and your bottom line.

So, it is critical to develop an employee mobility strategy by having open conversations with employees about their career interests, connecting skills and mobility, developing internal experts, and offering mentorship and coaching programs. 

These efforts will not just keep business afloat during a recession, but also help you build a continuous learning culture.   

The 7 biggest roadblocks to building a flexible working culture

So, you want to build a flexible working culture?

Schedule time for career conversations

A transparent process for discussing career options is pivotal to your employee mobility strategy. Even if you don’t have immediate openings, make time for an honest conversation with team members about their potential opportunities within the company down the road.

Without these open conversations, employees might assume their only option to move into a different role or to advance in their career is to leave for another company.

Employees who’ve stayed in the same role or department for a few years could be looking for a new challenge, or a different field–like transitioning from a marketing role into a sales role. 

With the right talent development program to facilitate this lateral move, the employee can continue to work at your company armed with an arsenal of transferable skills. Thanks to an internal candidate’s experience and knowledge of existing business functions and goals, your organization can boost employee retention, while also saving time and money on the hiring front.

During company all-hands or office hours, you should give employees a transparent view of how employee mobility works within the organization. Clarify, for example, whether you offer opportunities for lateral moves, role-to-role mobility, or upward mobility based on promotions. 

Make this program even more relevant and engaging by sharing past examples of employees’ career growth within the company. And if your company doesn't have succession planning developed, you should start there.

Encourage managers to schedule a 1:1 with each team member once a quarter to discuss career aspirations and possible internal roles that pique their interest. 

It’s equally important to document key points from that career conversation in a place that’s accessible to company leadership. This contributes to a repeatable and equitable process for employee mobility.

Without open conversations, employees might assume their only option to move into a different role or to advance in their career is to leave for another company.

Match interest and skills with career opportunities

A crucial component of employee mobility is putting the right people in the right places, like a game of tetris. When employees are involved in work that interests them, they are more engaged and productive. Plus, they have a vision of how their career can evolve at the same company.

We know that every role is designed to meet specific business objectives and they’re (generally) not manufactured overnight. But that doesn’t make it challenging to create new opportunities for your employees. 

Project-based mobility is a great solution. In other words, give people opportunities to lead a short-term project that aligns with their interests and skills. 

For example, assigning a three-month timeline to organize and host an event or webinar. This helps employees upskill with new experiences, while helping you mobilize talent in a way that meets business needs. 

Plus, you’ll encourage cross-functional interactions between departments, and strengthen relationships within the company. 

Picture this: the next time a team member from the product marketing department needs to coordinate with a designer, they won’t need an introduction and can jump right into the task, making collaborative teamwork easier.

Develop subject matter experts 

Employees have varied interests and experiences. By helping them hone a particular skill, you create a learning champion who can share that knowledge with peers. When new roles open up, you’ll have a talent pool with new competencies ready to take on the reins. 

Internal subject matter experts (SMEs) can keep your training cycle moving by creating e-learning courses, hosting skillshare workshops, or leading a lunch-and-learn discussion. 

Taking it a step further, some collaborative learning platforms enable SMEs to create impactful courses in minutes, receive feedback in a discussion forum, and measure course effectiveness with learner reactions

Peer upskilling has major benefits over hiring external instructors for training, as employees are familiar with the actual challenges their peers face in the organization. 

Internal course creation with collaborative learning tools is more relevant and useful at a lower cost, guaranteeing companies a higher return on investment. 

Lean on collaboration to build trust and culture  

Employee mobility has the most positive impact when everyone has a growth path, not just a select few. 

Putting collaboration at the heart of your employee mobility strategy builds trust and creates a continuous learning culture. With cross-functional training, employees feel valued and see that the company is investing in their professional development. 

Create opportunities for collaboration by encouraging employees to co-author courses and engaging in a peer feedback loop. This is especially important with remote work, where employees may find it harder to cultivate deep interpersonal connections.  

Offer mentorship and coaching programs

Mentorship and coaching opportunities are a win-win for your employee mobility strategy. They make employees feel heard and supported, while helping them develop leadership skills within the organization. 

But coaching isn’t just about talking to your employees. Make your coaching programs more useful and actionable, with on-the-job opportunities to shadow a manager or participate in a new initiative. Pinpoint skills and knowledge gaps, and create a plan to fill those needs. 

Tailor your coaching plans to each individual to give them a personalized experience and make them future-ready.

Build an internal job marketplace that recommends future roles 

To be successful, your employee mobility strategy needs to be a democratic, transparent process. This demands two-way communication with employees to work with their skills and aptitude. 

An internal job marketplace encourages top talent to stay committed to working at your organization, as they envision future career goals and participate in your upskilling programs to achieve them. Get started by empowering your employees and subject matter experts to become learning champions, with a collaborative learning solution like 360Learning.