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Posted on 23 June 2020 In Direct Employers

I recently joined Broadbean, and a number of senior HR and Talent practitioners, at the second day of the Cornerstone Convergence event, a conference exploring the changing landscape of work and talent management, and technology’s role in enabling an engaged and productive workforce.

There was much talk of internal recruitment and mobility, how we organise and leverage the talent we have before looking externally, who’s responsibility it is, and how shifting employee expectations and business management combine to impact the flow of people around the organisation. We were also introduced to ways in which evolving technology in the talent management space could offer more data and insight to HR professionals.

Cornerstone OnDemand released a comprehensive survey on internal mobility in the UK, Germany, France and Italy. It showed that 77% of businesses see internal recruitment as either critical or important, with the UK leading the way in having 54% of companies filling 30% or more of their positions through internal mobility. Only 20% of companies though use internal recruitment to fill all roles, with most using it for front line staff and middle managers. Somewhat surprisingly, and perhaps alarmingly, only 7% said that they hired senior managers internally.

77% of businesses see internal hiring as either critical or important, but only 7% hired senior managers internally. @BroadbeanEMEA

At the core of the conference were trends and insights to help companies get the best results from talent management initiatives. Amongst several important messages a key one was that the future of talent management will be about data and not the process.

Here are 5 of the key takeaways to help improve the likelihood of getting the talent you want:

Barriers Tend to be Cultural

Internal mobility is cultural, not a feature of having specific technology. Put simply too many managers want to keep their best performers and not lose them to other parts of the business. To illustrate the problem, the Cornerstone study found that when companies implemented an internal database where employees could make their profiles and career preferences available, only 4% of organisations actively encouraged employees to maintain a current or compelling profile in the hope of gaining the attention of a hiring manager.

There should be a more fluid approach to talent management within an organisation, to stop internal mobility from becoming a win/lose scenario.

Employee Expectations Have Changed

Retention and engagement are major priorities for businesses, but for employees it’s more about finding an employer that inspires passion and allows them to fulfil their professional and personal goals. Adam Miller, founder and CEO of Cornerstone OnDemand, told us that our people no longer look for a longterm career with one business but see each job as a ‘tour of duty’. When people moved between different specialisms in a business he encouraged us not to look at this as separate jobs but as different careers.

The recent Global Workforce Index from Kelly showed that the chance to acquire new skills was a major motivator for employees, over half of whom would forego a pay rise to learn something different. Our approach to internal mobility can help with this.

Who is Responsible for Internal Mobility?

Are career development and internal mobility the responsibilities of the individual employee, the line manager or the HR team? This question cropped up several times during the two days and the answer would appear to differ between countries. In the Cornerstone research, the question over who was responsible for pursuing internal opportunities showed 91% of UK firms saying it was the employees responsibility, whilst in France it was the reverse scenario with 73% suggesting HR and 21% the line manager. Overall figures showed 45% for the employee and 31% HR, with the balance suggesting line or a more senior manager.

91% of UK firms state employees are responsible for pursuing internal opportunities. @BroadbeanEMEA

These results seem to indicate a UK culture of personal responsibility, whereas in France there would appear a more top down approach to internal recruitment, with little initiative or input from the employee. It must be clear to all our people where the responsibility lay, and if it is with them then they may need support and encouragement to leverage the opportunities.

Better Internal Recruiting Processes

An audience show of hands indicated that only about 25% of attendees actually advertised a role internally before looking externally, and during one of the sessions businesses were encouraged to identify 2 or 3 potential candidates from within, before thinking of advertising outside the business.

In which case how do businesses currently reach out to internal talent? It would seem that many replicate the external processes by relying on an internal job posting or career site portal, or by simply sending general emails around the company. This approach further pushes responsibility on to the employee to keep abreast of internal roles and to make the first move. A preferable approach would be for them either to speak with an HR professional to get advice on development opportunities and roles within the business, or to cultivate internal and informal networks, which could lead to a direct approach from a manager.

The application experience should be as important internally as externally – and the process should be easy, friendly and seamless, not hard work.

Consumerisation of HR Technology

Over half of the companies in the Cornerstone research used their career and performance/succession management technology as a tool for internal mobility, though only a small number used them extensively. During the event we were treated to previews of a lot of upcoming product developments, and a glimpse of the talent management software of the future. The word that came out loud and clear as the key trend was consumerisation.

This is a theme that has run through a number of recent HR technology events. As individuals we have adapted to e-commerce and apps, intuitive software that doesn’t require us to read a manual or have expert knowledge. And yet, time and again the technology we use at work seems way behind this. If we’re not sure how to use a certain application then we immediately want to seek out a video explaining how it works, not wait to be booked on a training course.

If the future of internal mobility and skill development is through better understanding of data, and creation of a more social, networking based approach within organisations, then we need technology that is widely used and that reflects our consumer expectations – i.e. simple, user friendly, seamless experience, intuitive and mobile.

The overall theme across the two days was not to overlook the talent we already have. The UK comes out well in terms of the number of positions filled internally, but the landscape is changing and we will need to do more in future to continue this trend. Inclusiveness and simplicity are key, with a workforce focus that should seamlessly be part of overall strategy, not something separate.

Internal mobility is most successful when it’s embedded in culture, when managers aren’t being protective over their workers, and we are nurturing internal talent pools.

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