Internal mobility is booming, but not so much for lower-level staff, LinkedIn finds

Dive Brief:

  • Internal mobility — when an employee moves to a new job within the same company — is booming, up 30% since 2021, according to findings released Feb. 22 by LinkedIn.
  • There’s a good reason for the increase, Greg Lewis, LinkedIn’s senior content manager, noted in a blog post. Internal mobility is considered an underused way to fill open positions, as well as a strong tool to promote retention while keeping employees engaged, Lewis explained. However, the transitions seem to be limited to mid-level employees and above: Managers and higher seniority staff are twice as likely to make an internal move than the individuals worker under them, the findings showed.
  • Talent pros can work to close the gap by “creating a more inclusive and equitable mobility culture,” Lewis wrote. This involves providing more visibility and support for internal job openings; encouraging cross-functional collaboration and mentoring; and looking for and developing skills that internal movers tend to develop, such as diversity and inclusion, emotional intelligence and change management, he pointed out.

Dive Insight:

Nearly half of HR pros surveyed said building a talent pipeline is their top priority for 2024, according to a February report from talent acquisition firm Symphony Talent. Internal hiring can play into this pipeline, with desirable results like saving money and boosting retention, other studies have shown.

The practice has fluctuated over the past few years, peaking during the height of the pandemic in 2020, research from The Josh Bersin Company previously revealed. During that time, companies filled workforce gaps with current employees and reported that internal hiring led to better company culture, higher employee retention, improved cost-savings and expedited time-to-hire rates.

Internal mobility rates then dipped in 2021, but started rising in 2022 and continued into the following year, according to LinkedIn.

With the right strategy, everyone benefits, an earlier LinkedIn study indicated. Employees consider career development opportunities to be one of the top reasons to say at their company, a LinkedIn exec said. Organizations that personalize career development and help employees build skills have a 15% higher internal mobility rate than companies where employees lack training, the study found.

For this report, LinkedIn compared skills that members added to their profiles in the 12 months before starting a new role, it explained. The findings showed that internal movers are far more likely to develop certain skills than peers who left the company.

For example, internal movers are almost 50% more likely to develop diversity and inclusion skills; 27% more likely to develop emotional intelligence skills and 21% more likely to develop change management skills. Other telling skills include stakeholder engagement (more than 14%) and agile project management (12%), according to the findings.

“The skills that best predict internal movers revolve around collaboration, inclusion and adaptability — the ability to connect with coworkers, make everyone feel included, and drive change on an organizational scale,” LinkedIn said.