Employees are a fundamental resource for companies, if not the most vital capital they have. They are the backbone of the business, but they still need to be productive and efficient. Lets’ not beat about the bush – we know that productivity and high performance result not only from the technical and communication skills of your employees, but are also directly linked to their individual motivation and personal growth.

Indeed, there is nothing more depressing and counter-productive than routine, especially when you’ve been at a company for several years. And, while more ambitious employees aspire to take the next step by excelling and climbing the ladder, any company wishing to increase its activities and therefore its turnover should be interested in developing its talent and skills management to make the most of its human capital.

What do we mean by internal staff mobility?

Internal mobility, also known as internal recruitment, means offering a new role to an existing employee from within the company, as opposed to external recruitment, which consists of recruiting a new employee from outside the company, especially following a resignation or dismissal.

Internal mobility is a major lever in human resource management, as promoting your employees internally means boosting their employability and commitment to the company, therefore ensuring that they will continue to work there.

The days of an individual staying in the same job for their entire lives has passed – both in the public and private sectors. Nowadays, employees feel the need to face challenges in order to flourish in their personal and professional lives. Two options are therefore available to them : changing roles while staying with the same company, or resigning and finding a new job outside the company.

Of course, the best option is to offer your employee an assignment or promotion at the company where they have worked for several years (at least 3 years), taking certain conditions into account (see the last part of this article). The employee will instantly feel reassured by taking up a new post in a company that they already know, and, there is a lower risk of failure for the company, too.

What are the issues when it comes to internal mobility?

Encouraging employee mobility means showing appreciation for them and valuing the skills that they have acquired. Internal mobility boosts employee loyalty and commitment, especially among managers. In sectors facing an economic crisis, or where the work is becoming increasingly complex (for example, in the industrial sector), retaining employees means maintaining a level of competitiveness and improving performance.

Internal mobility also has another advantage: the candidate applying for the role is not a complete stranger, so the risks of getting it wrong or being disappointed are reduced. It is well-known that the human resources department can determine the profile and the level of commitment of an employee. Furthermore, the integration stage is reduced to a minimum, since the employee has already assimilated the culture of the company. It will therefore be easier for the employee to adapt to their new role.
Finally, internal mobility can reduce the time and money spent on the recruitment process and on training an external candidate.

What are the different options?

Internal or geographical mobility can take many forms:

o Vertical mobility: the employee gets a promotion and moves up in the hierarchy
o Horizontal mobility: the employee changes role or department, but does not move up in the hierarchy. It may involve an assignment, a transfer or even retraining.

It is important to take into account this aspect of “change”, which is often viewed negatively, mismanaged or ignored by some employees. Mobility may also (but not always) involve relocating (sometimes far away, from Manchester to London for example), a new life for the family, etc.
Whatever the circumstances, internal or geographic mobility is regulated by agreements and negotiations between the employer and the employee, suspending the clauses of the employment contract that are contrary to the agreement. The employee’s salary or their individual classification cannot be decreased.

What are the risks of neglecting employee mobility?

If you fail to consider employees ‘expectations in terms of their career progression, you risk creating dissatisfaction and a lack of motivation. The consequences are quickly felt: the company’s activities and turnover will start to stagnate. If employees are no longer motivated, they gradually end up in a “comfort zone” and no longer make an effort to achieve the company’s objectives.

The other risk is “brain drain”, where employees resign and get hired by the competition. Employees that leave a company are not only taking their technical knowledge and expertise with them; they are also in a position to bring improvements for their new employer, to the detriment of their former company. And it’s worth bearing in mind that, with employees resigning, the company not only loses its human capital, but also its relational capital. The relational capital refers to relationships that the employees have forged with their internal and external peers while with the company. This will certainly have repercussions on the team’s dynamic, but also on interactions with suppliers and key clients.

How can I organise this mobility within my company?

To be able to manage the internal mobility of your employees, you need to:

o Develop a succession or replacement plan to cover departures (resignation, dismissal, retirement, etc.)
o Identify a potential staff member by reviewing their professional history and then hold performance evaluation interviews with them
o anticipate potential developments following various training sessions
o Inform employees about available vacancies (e.g. by putting the information on a board at the entrance to the office) and organise informational seminars to brief employees about the duties involved in the role. Strangely, many employees dont’ generally take the initiative of asking for an internal promotion. They are often afraid of being viewed negatively, or fear that their request will be interpreted as a sign of instability. So encourage your employees to be proactive in this regard by keeping them updated on jobs that have been created or have become vacant.