3 Ways To Create A Culture Of Internal Mobility
Are you a leader in search of a unicorn hire? That superstar recruit who has the perfect skill set to work miracles for your company? To find them, you scour multiple job sites, interview a dozen candidates, and offer a bonus to the recruiter who snags that top talent. But despite all of this effort, you still haven’t found your unicorn.
Why? It’s very possible that your dream employee is already working for you. It’s a truth that smart business leaders know well: great hires are often in our own internal talent pools.
They also know that hiring from within the business is good business. Not only is it a way to find top talent, but it’s also a great retention tool for employees who may feel like they’re in a dead-end role in the organization. According to Gallup, US businesses lose a trillion dollars yearly because of voluntary employee turnover. Replacing one single employee can cost anywhere from one-half to two times that employee’s salary, meaning a 100-person organization with an average salary of $50,000 loses $660,000 to $2.6 million a year.
With clear business value and organizational impact, it’s time for leaders to look inwards and think differently about recruiting and hiring. Here are the three best ways I’ve learned to create a corporate culture that encourages talented employees to stay and find their next best job, right where they are.
Make Internal Mobility Part Of A Healthy Corporate Culture
At some companies, employees might be fearful of raising their hand to apply internally for a job. Such a move might be regarded as a mutiny to leave one department for another or move up within their own department. This kind of fear-based environment is just one way companies lose fantastic employees.
Because Udemy wants to retain its best employees by giving them the freedom to move up or around our organization, we’ve intentionally created a culture where it’s common to raise your hand if you’re interested in a job opening within the organization. We ask employees to network internally and even build initiatives supporting this. For example, our MentorU program connects employees with more experienced individuals within Udemy for dedicated mentorship and growth with an eye toward career development.
Formalize Your Internal Mobility Program
Too many companies take an ad hoc approach to internal hiring. But as a longtime people leader, I’ve seen the value of making a company’s internal hiring guidelines explicit.
We have been extremely intentional in making our internal mobility program explicit for all employees. We created NavigateU, an internal hiring program that sends out job openings before opening them to the public, giving our employees first dibs at the best jobs. Our internal mobility policies are explicitly written out so any employee can take the required steps to make an internal job switch. We also offer a collection of relevant resources, including Udemy’s career philosophy, stories from other employees who have transitioned to new roles, recommended courses from our platform on resumes and interviewing, and a description of the transfer process, including eligibility and how to apply.
Rules about how someone can apply internally for a job vary from organization to organization. Some companies have strict policies for employee job movement, like having to talk first to your current manager before applying for an internal job. What’s most important is that your company makes it clear to your employees the rules so they aren’t afraid of breaking anyone’s trust or even losing their current job.
We also work closely with our managers to ensure they’re open-minded and flexible when approached by an employee about a potential internal transfer. My team works closely with managers to address an employee’s interest in an internal transfer or find alternative solutions that may keep them engaged with other growth opportunities. We see this as an opportunity that leads to better retention overall.
Put Time And Energy Into Your Employees’ Ambitions
While employers might historically be more willing to devote their resources to finding that unicorn hire outside of the company, they should be willing to put equal time and energy measures into cultivating great talent internally.
We maintain the mindset that we have nothing to lose and a lot to gain when investing in an employee’s internal job ambitions. That means that managers should be open to informational interviews from people within or beyond their own department. From project management to data analytics, they should be thoughtful about telling them what skills they will need to fit the position.
Companies should also be open to working with an employee to learn what valuable skills they can bring to the organization that aren’t being utilized in their current role. This way, they can see where their skillset might match a coveted role and how to get the training they need to be hired for their internal dream job.
At Udemy, if our employees are committed to a certain career path, we will work with them to get training and even experience. We encourage employees to sit in on departmental meetings outside their team, join a cross-functional project or opportunity, or ask about potential temporary project roles. This way, they can see if a certain position and department is a good fit or not. But what’s most important is that we are giving them the chance to realize their full potential within the company.
If it’s the right fit for them, and for us, we will help them find their next best job right here at Udemy.
A version of this article was originally published in Forbes on December 10, 2020.