Internal Mobility: The Future of Employee Development and Retention


Investing in employee training and development is more important than ever. Here’s what you need to know about building your own employee development plan.

internal mobility

Your next best hire already exists — and they may already even be working at your company. But failing to identify and engage with high-performing employees could lead them to greener pastures. 

LinkedIn data shows that the likelihood of employees staying at a company drops dramatically after their first year, and retention continues to decrease as tenure increases. However, companies that highlight internal mobility, hire and promote from within, and allow employees to make lateral career moves see much higher retention rates than companies that do not. 

Average retention of  employees Retention of employees who stay in the same roleRetention of employees who moved to new functionRetention of employees who were promoted
After 1 year76%75%85%90%
After 2 years59%56%74%80%
After 3 years48%45%64%69%
After 4 years41%39%56%59%
After 5 years38%36%50%52%
Source: LinkedIn

Since 2019, internal mobility has increased by almost 20% YoY and for good reason. Following the Great Resignation of 2021, a mass exodus of millions of workers, focusing on internal mobility not only saves companies hiring costs, it keeps their existing workforce engaged. 

A Gallup workplace report from Q1 2021 found that 74% of employees self-identified as actively disengaged and 55% as not disengaged — a jump up from the previous year’s 69% and 51%. 

The Great Resignation, the report said, is better described as “the Great Discontent,” adding “It’s not an industry, role or pay issue. It’s a workplace issue — because the highest quit rate is among not engaged and actively disengaged workers.” The data makes it clear that continuous employee development isn’t just needed today — it’s a requirement. 

But what exactly is internal mobility, and how does it work?

Master all your HR processes with the free Guide to HR Workflow ManagementDownload now

Internal mobility: Moving up (and across) the ladder 

Imagine a ladder. In order to get from Point A to Point B, you have to climb up the ladder. This is how traditional workplace promotions work; you start with one role and work your way up to another. But with internal mobility, you’re not only able to move up and down (promotion), you can also move from side to side (job transfer).

Internal mobility empowers employees to grow within their company and make career moves outside of the traditional direct promotion by upskilling: the process of learning new skills and reskilling: the process of learning new skills to do a different job.

Top reasons why organizations use internal mobility

38%Build better leaders
31%Expand their business
32%Increase employee engagement
Source: 2019 Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte.

Benefit of internal mobility for the post-pandemic workforce

According to the Work Institute’s 2020 Retention Report, career development is the number one reason employees leave. The cost of this voluntary turnover exceeded $630 billion in 2019. When an employee leaves, the financial strain is a result of four things: cost of termination, cost of replacement, vacancy cost, and learning curve loss.

Common roadblocks to internal mobility

Despite the benefits of internal mobility initiatives, many companies fail to cultivate them. Some internal talent mobility strategy roadblocks include: 

49%Lack of defined process for identifying internal candidates
48%Availability of internal employees to fill roles
46%Manager resistance to internal moves
45%Lack of internal communication with employees regarding available positions
Source: 2019 Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte.

To solve these challenges, organizations will need to build up their biggest source of talent.

See how Pipefy unifies and automates HR workflows to create exceptional employee experiencesLearn more

Building your internal mobility initiative

The key to executing a successful internal mobility strategy is to build an employee training and development process that embraces data, empowers managers, and provides employees with clear communication and actionable next steps. Use this process roadmap to get started.

1. Define what “internal mobility” means for your organization

Before investing in and building a process, it’s important to consider the “what.” What are your organization’s needs? What does mobility mean to your organization? What does a successful internal mobility program look like? 

2. Gather the data 

Once you have an understanding of your organization’s needs and goals, it’s time to dig into your employee data. Here are some numbers to consider:  

  • Current internal mobility rate to measure the number of employees that have already made internal job moves. 
  • Turnover rate to measure the amount of employees leaving your organization or changing job functions.
  • Representation ratios to measure diversity and inclusion and flag opportunities to strengthen DEI initiatives. 
  • Source of internal hires to measure trends in mobility patterns. 
  • Manager-related metrics to measure how well managers support employee training and development. 
  • Nature of mobility to measure the rate of promotions (change in seniority), job function changes (change in role), and business unit changes (change in department).
  • Success of training or developmental programs to measure the effectiveness or uses of existing resources.

The data above will help paint a full picture of how to engage with employees and identify potential for internal moves. 

3. Get managers on board 

Managers may be reluctant to lose employees who they see as assets. To get managers on board, companies will need to recode their understanding of internal mobility and make it part of their core values. This begins with training managers to recognize when employees may be suited for a different role and understanding how to support them throughout their training and transition.

4. Fill in the employee development gaps

At this point, you’ll want to determine what developmental resources are missing or lacking and worth investing in. For example, you may find that tapping into video learning resources such as Udemy or LinkedIn Learning are an effective form of continuous employee development.

5. Model your internal hiring process

Once all these steps are completed, it’s time to put your internal talent mobility strategy into practice and tap into your existing talent pool. Below is an example of what an internal hiring process might look like: 

Internal mobility process illustration (click here to enlarge the image)

Achieve the benefits of internal mobility with Pipefy 

The benefits of internal mobility are clear: it helps engage and motivate employees, builds strong company culture, keeps high-performing employees, and minimizes workplace frustrations.

Building an internal talent mobility program reduces costs, and solves workplace issues that negatively affect employees, like a downturn in productivity and efficiency and an increase in training time and interruptions. 

With a no-code BPM like Pipefy, you can easily scale up and continuously evolve your employee development. With features like automation, integrations, forms, rules, conditionals, and dashboards, you can: 

  • Customize your process workflow in a snap.
  • Automate tasks so you’ll never miss an important request. 
  • Integrate your existing employee management software with Pipefy to manage employees from a single place.
  • Capture and organize important data in a streamlined and standardized way.
  • Analyze real-time data that relates to your employees to gather information on trends and patterns to improve your internal mobility program. 
See how Pipefy helps HR & People Ops teams make the recruiting process more humanWatch a demo

Related articles