Organizations across the world are on the pursuit of top talent, a task which probably has never been this challenging. Since the talent war was declared open by McKinsey in 1997, the pressure on the talent acquisition function has been mounting. Currently, recruiters face a massive skill gap in what their business needs against what is available in the talent market. The global talent shortage is at a 12-year high. 45% of respondents report difficulty in filling jobs, according to the Talent Shortage Survey by ManPower Group. Five Asian countries – India (56%), Singapore (56%), Hong Kong (76%), Taiwan (78%) and Japan (89%) – face the most difficulty in hiring.
Your talent goldmine
Amidst all the struggles to find the right talent, most organizations often overlook their greatest source of talent – themselves. Most recruiters do not realize that they are already sitting on a talent goldmine. Somewhere in another country, in a different function, there might be an employee who is looking for a fresh challenge and fits the role but may never come across the open position in the company. Not only does the organization lose a prized asset, but it is also a missed opportunity to quickly fill the open position with the right talent.
There are some clear business benefits of leveraging this talent goldmine that companies are already sitting on:
Objectively proven performance record: What internal talent brings over lateral hires is their proven and verifiable performance record. As an organization, you have complete access to a multitude of references. Both a qualitative assessment and a quantitative assessment of the individual can be done in comparatively no time. Qualitative from the peers and project team members; and quantitative from performance scores history. How many times have lateral hires walked in the interview room, brag about their past accomplishments, only for the business to find out that they are nowhere close to the skill level their resume claimed they were? Internal hires have been found to carry forward their performance levels to new roles. A study by Fuel50 found that organizations that promoted internally are 32 percent more likely to be satisfied with the quality of internal hires compared with external hires.
Institutional knowledge: A significant time is spent on bedding in a new hire. Letting her experience the lay of the land, get familiar with the way of working, build a rapport with the peers. Internal talent already possesses that institutional knowledge in abundance. They know how the organization works, what are the acceptable methods of working, and there is a comfort. Unlike a new hire, there is no prolonged induction or onboarding necessary – except maybe some technical training if necessary. Also, while assessing the internal candidate, the hiring manager can determine whether (s)he is a cultural fit or not, the candidate having worked in the same company (even if a different region). It can be partly owed to institutional knowledge that internal hires are more likely to stay than external hires in their new jobs (21 percent external hires more likely to leave their jobs in the first year according to a Deloitte study).
Minimize voluntary turnover: With voluntary turnover rates increasing, the HR department is in a constant state of flux to improve talent retention. The reasons for leaving are often related to career ambition, change in roles/career path – internal mobility can fulfill these employee aspirations to an extent. This has a significant business impact – it minimizes voluntary turnover. Quantify it in dollars saved, and a 30,000 people organization is looking at almost $33 million annual saving by reducing voluntary turnover by just 1%.
Employer branding: Giving opportunities to your own talent and enabling their career development is bound to enhance the organization’s image as an employer of choice. The outside world can see you as the ideal organization to work for because it cares for its people’s aspirations. And it does not require your recruitment teams to hand out flyers saying “we are the best”; it would rather happen organically in today’s social-media-connected world.
Extracting from the goldmine
Experts Denise Moulton, Robin Erickson and Bill Cleary from Deloitte suggest in a podcast on internal talent mobility that many organizations aren’t behind in recognizing the importance of internal mobility. The challenges lie elsewhere. The primary barriers prohibiting talent mobility are all cultural. In many instances, managers do not want their high performers to move to other teams because that might impact their teams’ overall performance. Erickson shares in the podcast that it is easier for employees in some organizations to quit their current roles, apply to a different role within their organization and get selected; instead of internal migration. To avoid a tug of war between departments, many organizations have a policy in place which prohibits internal talent mobility. Then there is also the small matter of a lack of an internal talent mobility system.
Here are some actions organizations can take to better leverage their internal talent:
- Create mechanical career plans for their employees. There needs to be a synergy among the employee, her manager, the L&D team and the talent acquisition team. What this achieves is that the effort to develop her is concerted and synchronized. The employee has a clear career plan made in coordination with his manager; his skill set and aspirations are assessed by the L&D; they are accessible to the talent acquisition team; as soon as a relevant position matching his aspirations open up, they are considered for the opportunity.
- Have the proper toolsets in place. Take the leap beyond mere job postings. Keep a tab on people’s skills, aspirations and achievements by having them upload their internal resumes; keeping their certifications updated; their skills monitored and maybe even ranked; assess their progress towards their aspirations, and even have AI and ML recommend the things they need to learn to take further steps in their development.
The willingness from organizations has been present, as a recent survey discovered (87% employers said that a strong internal talent mobility program will help retention); the cultural barrier has proven too strong to get over it though (only 33% had such a program). Are we looking at a change now?