Challenges in talent mobility – why it fails?

Employers shifting their focus from their internal talent pools to finding new talent externally could lead to a weak work culture that results in an under motivated workforce.


Talent mobility is a key element of talent management, it describes an employees ability to move between positions within their company. Encouraging talent mobility allows for tasks such as recruitment, hiring and workforce training to go on smoothly.

The end goal for a successful talent mobility strategy is to align skills, motivations and backgrounds of its employees to better suit company needs, allowing leaders to retain and develop talent simultaneously. As companies continue to fail to retain their employees, a solid talent mobility strategy can help save costs that would have gone towards new hires and recruitment programs.

Companies that adopt internal leadership pipelines with the help of good talent mobility programs can leverage the advantages and create a robust rotation when leadership positions open up. Eventually, saving the company copious amounts of time and money that would be used to look for external employees. In the end having leaders better suited to the company’s needs and already aligned with its vision.

Even though there are tangible advantages to a good talent mobility program, why don’t companies make the effort to adopt one or better their existing system?

The Great Resignation

A report from Mckinsey showed that 60% of the employees reentering the workforce would leave in the face of stagnant work progression.

Companies have shifted their focus from retention and mobility to recruitment in the wake of ‘the Great Resignation’. Competition for new hires is fierce, talent teams have been working towards filling the gaps left in organisations, hiring from a set descriptor has proven to be faster than trying to source internal talent.

“Although organisations are prepared for attrition now, it is way cheaper to retain existing talent than to bring in new ones”.

Rajesh Jain, CHRO, Welspun Enterprises

These reactive measures could prove to be detrimental to the organisations as it feeds into the talent frenzy newly created. Forgetting about internal talent, people who have been assimilated to the culture, could leave a lot to be desired in terms of employee loyalty and trust.

Rajesh Jain, CHRO, Welspun Enterprises, talks about the importance of technology in today’s workplace and how his organisation utilises AI to better understand its employees. One of the uses he mentioned was a tool that constantly interacts with employees to judge their vulnerability and informs the top brass on when to intervene.

New millennial trends

Job hopping, a new precedent set by the millennial generation, has caused companies to rethink their talent retention and mobility strategies. Following the trend, employees have to come in and adjust to new situations, fast, to be productive. While observing this, organisations see little benefit in developing internal talent for new roles, when they could find someone who already knows how to do the job externally.

“Organisations cannot build a culture around constantly changing talent pools, resulting in more bad than good.”

Devarishi Deb, CHRO, Asahi India Glass

One of the major reasons for this shift is attributed to the fact that employees within the organisation are given little to no chance to upskill, rotate or be promoted internally. Good management is founded on a company’s ability to rotate.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case in most places. When news of an employee’s desire to move up or rotate comes to fore, managers usually try to protect their teams by rejecting their moves. Managers themselves have to meet performance goals, when faced with a situation where they have to let go of their star employee, they prioritise their short term goal over the employees long term benefit. A process known as ‘talent hoarding’. When managers block moves to rotate, this causes employees to stagnate out of fear or leave the organisation.

“We need a policy on employee initiated job rotations; and a clear message to managers that we need to look at talent from an organisational perspective”

Vivek Tripathi, VP-HR, Newgen Software

Many times when employees seem like they show indications of an exit, it usually means they are looking for a change of scene within the company, hoping for different responsibilities or a promotion.

Linear approach to rotation

Employees when hired get streamed into their respective departments. What many organisations underestimate is an employee’s ability to evolve. Organisations find it easier to upskill and rotate its workforce within the same department making employees more one dimensional, lacking the well roundedness required by a leader in today’s times. This linear approach also causes employees to feel like wasted potential.

Devarishi Deb, CHRO, Asahi India Glass, believes employees must be rotated throughout the organisation, in different departments to be more well rounded so that they are better prepared for leadership roles, which in today’s times is essential.

Organisations with a more agile approach to hiring looks at its internal pool as a marketplace resulting in lesser external intakes and more internal movement.

Lack of opportunity visibility

Surveys by both Deloitte and Gartner show about 50 – 51 per cent of employees say it’s easier to find jobs outside of their organisations than to do within them. This is an obvious roadblock in terms of talent acquisition and internal mobility. New technologies have allowed for many core HR functions to be simplified. Using such resources could help get the word out on internal mobility opportunities and mitigate a lot of the problems regarding retention.

Vivek Tripathi, VP-HR, Newgen Software, talks about two main ways his organisation deals with this problem. High potential employees are given clear development plans consisting of job rotations, coaching and classroom learning opportunities. For the greater workforce, the organisation publishes all available opportunities and allows all employees to apply under their internal job posting process.

Simple steps such as job boards or talent marketplaces could be developed on pre-existing digital platforms. Circulating emails on upcoming job opportunities or even encouraging your workforce by showing cases of successful internal promotions and rotations could act as effective ways to keep the workforce in the loop. Employees should feel like they have a clear road map to model their success on.

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