Enhancing internal talent mobility through assessments: Best practices

In previous articles, we have examined the future skills gap predicted by many talent analysts (initiated by the World Economic Forum report of 2020).

Legitimate strategies that counter the risks of not having the right talent on board include enhancing external recruitment drives and investing in better graduate recruitment processes. But it seems clear that in a high-competition talent marketplace, not all companies will be able to find the talent they require, especially in the digital and data-centric roles of tomorrow.

So, instead of focusing heavily on recruiting external candidates, organizations are beginning to discover the benefits of internal hiring. However, in recent surveys conducted by TTS’s best-of-breed global assessment partner, Aon Assessments, results indicate that many companies do not have a robust internal mobility program that empowers employees to take their skills and experience to another team or to a new level.

In this article, we will examine how talent professionals can enhance their internal talent mobility by using talent assessment best practices.

What Is internal talent mobility?

Internal talent mobility is the degree to which internal talent are able to advance within and across their roles. This may (and should) include completely changing one’s occupation or career path within the same organization.

Talent mobility includes being promoted into a management role or transitioning into a completely different department within the company.

The practice of internal talent mobility has provided many opportunities for employees to advance in their careers. When companies use this talent acquisition strategy in their own recruiting and hiring processes, it opens up new opportunities for internal employees.

The importance of internal talent mobility

Apart from the obvious advantage of expanding their recruitment pool, internal talent mobility programs are important in ensuring other beneficial talent dynamics.

For instance, employees will often look for new opportunities outside of their current company when they believe there are few or limited opportunities to advance their careers.  Unfortunately, organizations that do not prioritize internal career development or promotions leave such staff members little choice other than exiting if they want to advance their career prospects.

Such talent retention losses have knock-on effects. When an employee leaves, it can cost the company up to a year’s salary to replace them. This is especially true if the company is using an external recruiting agency.

In contrast, if talent professionals implement robust internal talent mobility strategies, the organization gains unique benefits and opportunities that prevent such losses. Funds that were earmarked for hiring external employees can thus be used for other important business activities.

Internal talent mobility can also benefit organizations by enhancing employee retention. When time and effort is spent on advancing the career trajectories of team members, employee motivation rises and in turn, enhances workplace culture and engagement.

Developing and advancing internal candidates also have the added benefit of reducing the risk of wrong external hires, since managers have already witnessed such employees’ engagement, skills, and work ethic.

3 Types of internal talent mobility structures

Aon’s research suggests that there is no one-size-fits-all structure for internal talent mobility. Consequently, it is essential to understand the organization’s requirements and talent strategy before designing an internal talent mobility program. Despite this need for customization, there are three broad approaches to internal talent mobility:

  • Planned approaches. This system focuses on traditional career structure. Employees share their goals with their managers, who help guide them toward the experiences and training that will help achieving them, using predetermined pathways of development.
  • Facilitated approaches. Like the planned structure, this approach to internal talent mobility allows employees to move non-vertically throughout the organization. This structure can be designed to account for employees’ aspirations and business needs.
  • Agile approaches. The cross-functional capabilities of this system allow employees to quickly shift their roles within the organization in response to business needs and personal interests. Allowing employees to change career paths in this way within your organization can create a more agile, dynamic work culture.

The role of talent assessments in internal talent mobility

Irrespective of the approach followed, hiring managers and talent professionals alike need to base their decisions about internal talent development on more than just gut feel or historical performance.

This is where scientifically robust talent assessments can play a valuable role. Pre-employment assessments are often viewed as being primarily about candidate selection. But the results of such measures can also be used to develop:

  • Career development plans
  • Options for future assignments
  • Opportunities for training and professional development.
  • Data on the potential of internal talent to take on leadership roles or their potential to reskill into emerging functions.

Given the diverse uses of talent assessments, it stands to reason that different types of tests and constructs of interest can be employed in different ways to serve the above processes.

Aptitude tests

Cognitive ability tests are among the most often used assessments talent selection projects. There is good reason for this, as they rank among the most powerful predictors of long-term career success. These assessments can measure numerical, verbal, abstract logical, or other specialized abilities to determine if an employee has the required capacity to perform a job successfully. They can also identify gaps that managers can then address with additional training.

Personality measures

Personality measures measure behavioral traits, motivational factors, values, and dispositions. Data collected from such measures, like the ADEPT-15, can help identify internal staff members who have the potential to thrive in new roles, regardless of their previous or current roles.

Situational judgment tests (SJTs)

SJTs (and work sample tests) are able to measure an employee’s effectiveness in dealing with real-world problems they may encounter on the job. By evaluating employee reactions to real scenarios, hiring managers can rank applicants based on their desired responses, which is especially useful when evaluating internal candidates for new roles or opportunities. In turn, employees can gain valuable insights into what a new role may require by completing work samples and SJTs.

Best practices for internal talent mobility

Based on its global experience of helping clients get the most out of their internal mobility programs, Aon Assessment recommends the following best practices for talent professionals:

  • Emphasize continual upskilling. Successful internal mobility is based on making employee development a priority in workforce planning. Encouraging continuous education allows employees to stay relevant as traditional work structures and roles evolve. Creating incentives for continuing education and learning new skills also keeps internal candidates motivated. Here, assessments of knowledge and skill can help to judge how employees have applied what they have learned.
  • Gain support from leadership. Internal talent mobility is not a one-person job. Having the support of leadership is vital to the success of any internal talent mobility program. By creating clear communication of the benefits of internal talent mobility, talent professionals can ensure buy-in and support from business leaders.
  • Prioritize employee experience. By creating robust, well-organized and assessment-enhanced internal mobility programs, talent professionals can ensure that internal staff members have an engaging and positive experience. Transparency and prompt feedback are critical, irrespective of whether internal candidates are successful in their applications or not.  As we have demonstrated in previous articles, using the power of feedback can go a long way to improving assessments’ impact and developmental value.

Final thoughts

Creating a culture based on learning, development, and growth helps hiring managers and talent professionals alike save time and money costs on external recruiting while retaining top talent.

Aon’s research suggests that investing in efficient, assessment-forward internal talent mobility structures pays dividends that extend far beyond their initial cost.

By using best-of-breed assessments, coupled with best practices of internal talent mobility can help organizations overcome the risks of future skills gaps and perhaps more importantly, enhance their workforce’s growth and dramatically improve employee engagement and retention.

If you would like to know more about how to use scientific talent assessments in your internal talent mobility initiatives, why not drop us a line at info@tts-talent.com?

Source: Internal Talent Mobility: Using Talent Assessments Throughout the Employee Journey, Aon Assessments Report, 2023.