Job mobility and why it matters for retention

    September 25, 2020

    According to the Society for Human Resource Management, employers that promote job mobility within their organization have a better chance of retaining talent. So, what exactly is job mobility and what role does it play in retention?

    What is job mobility?

    Job mobility — also referred to as “career mobility” — is the movement of employees across positions or grades. In general, it’s an upward movement in which employees advance. However, it can also be a lateral move to a similar role in a different team or department.

    Why employees want job mobility

    In general, employees want to advance in their jobs because it increases their earning potential. People who stay in their current position usually get a pay increase of three percent per year. However, those who accept a new role often get between 10 and 20 percent more, according to Zenefits. So it’s not surprising that aspirational employees are looking to move to more senior positions — whether that’s with their current employers or elsewhere.

    The cost of not facilitating mobility

    Employees who stay in the same role without a change of job title are much more likely to leave their employer for another company. That contributes to overall turnover. Unfortunately, replacing an employee can cost an employer a minimum of 20 percent of that employee’s salary. And that doesn’t even account for the costs of delayed projects, lost productivity, or the impact on the team’s morale.

    Focus on career advancement to retain talent

    Before offering employees the opportunity to advance, you need to know what you have to offer. Harvard Business Review suggests answering these three essential questions:

    • What kind of mobility can you offer?
    • To whom can you offer it?
    • How much mobility can you offer?

    Once you’ve answered these questions, take the time to have conversations with your employees about their career goals. Then assign them work that allows them to leverage their most important skills to the best of their ability. This can include working independently, leading projects, or even taking on temporary supervisory roles. 

    After that, based on their skills and career goals, offer your employees job mobility opportunities. This includes filling open positions, especially those at the management or supervisory level, from within.  

    It also includes lateral moves — moves to similar positions in other parts of the organization. This allows them to learn more about how the company functions, as well as how to leverage their skills in a different manner.

    Be open about job mobility

    Considering how important job mobility is to talent, it’s advisable to discuss what opportunities you can offer even during the hiring process. Because by letting candidates know advancement is possible within the company, you stand a better chance of attracting top talent.



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