Internal Talent Mobility in Health Care and Life Sciences

Time to Read: 5.5 minutes

Updated: April 10, 2023

In a world that’s still coming to grips with the pandemic, every industry is struggling to stay afloat. Amid all the chaos, the life sciences and healthcare sector played a critical part and went through a major transformation. To stay competitive in the post-COVID world, companies in the life sciences sector are realizing the importance of internal talent mobility.

Internal talent mobility also known as internal recruiting is the process of filling new roles with existing employees within the organization. Internal mobility is an underrated technique, and recruitment in the healthcare and life sciences (HCLS) industry is still largely focused on external talent. Chuck Edward, the head of recruitment at Microsoft pointed out the issue:

“For all the focus on mapping the external talent marketplace, the irony is that there’s not enough focus placed on the talent underneath one’s own roof.”

In this article, we will discuss the benefits and challenges of internal talent mobility, and what you can do to improve internal recruitment in your organization. 

Internal Talent Mobility in the Post-Pande World

Amid the global health crisis, companies moved towards remote work. Roles that were historically considered location-based have become location-agnostic. The talent shortage in the healthcare and life sciences (HCLS) sector is the second-most disruptive trend for mobility. Deloitte reports that, in the next three to five years, the Central and Southern Asian region will offer the best growth opportunities for HCLS companies.

Among other things, increased government regulations, rising costs are impacting life science and healthcare companies. In a survey by Deloitte’s Global Mobility Transformation team, 60% of the respondents stated that government regulations and cost pressure are the most disruptive trends for mobility, talent, and reward.

There’s change happening all around and it’s here to stay. Be it remote work or internal talent mobility, it’s about time companies embraced change and used it to grow alongside the world.

Benefits of Internal Talent Mobility

In a talent market as steep as the life sciences, it’s important to utilize internal talent mobility to retain current talent before moving on to hiring new employees. The main reason behind employee turnover in the life sciences sector is the lack of career growth and challenge. According to the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey, 50% of respondents said that it’s easier to find a job outside of their organization than within.

From the Millenials to Baby Boomers, every generation craves growth despite their many differences. The growth can be either career growth such as a pay raise or promotion, or learning opportunities such as skill development. Employee satisfaction increases in an environment where their talent is recognized and nurtured.

To a medium-sized company, employee turnover due to a lack of growth opportunities costs about $49 million per year. Companies in the life sciences and healthcare sector must focus more on employee retention than talent search. According to the LinkedIn Global Talent Trends report, internal talent mobility increases retention rates by 41% and speeds up the hiring process by 63%.

Barriers to Internal Talent Mobility

About 65 percent of recruitment professionals acknowledge that internal talent mobility should need improvement in their company. The biggest barrier to internal recruiting is that managers often tend to cling to talent, which can hurt organizations in the long run. If they don’t move up in the organizational hierarchy, there’s a high probability that they will leave the company for good.

On the other hand, diversity is often compromised in internal hiring, which brings us to our second point, formalized internal recruitment strategy. When there’s no formal internal recruitment strategy in place, internal hiring occurs organically, which produces much worse results. It tends to be more biased as people often favor relationships over talent resulting in a lack of diversity within the workforce.

Improving Internal Talent Mobility in Your Organization

Historically, talent mobility used to be common, and organizations used to promote people from among their own ranks. In the last decade, this trend gained popularity once again and there has been a 10% increase in internal recruitment since 2015.  Let’s take a look at five ways you can improve talent mobility in your organization.

Formalize the Internal Hiring Process to Avoid Bias and Increase Diversity

Internal hiring is known to increase bias as organic internal referrals usually happen via existing networks and connections. To eliminate bias and increase diversity, internal recruitment should be formalized. Structured and formalized internal hiring is known to improve diversity. According to a study published by the Harvard Business Review, employees hired via informal referrals consistently underperform compared to the ones hired via more formalized procedures. Instead of employees finding opportunities, they should present themselves to internal candidates.

Reach out to Potential Candidates

Currently, employees and hiring managers are usually the ones making the first move in the internal hiring process. In this ever-changing era, employers should play a bigger role and be proactive toward reaching out. To an existing employee, getting a call from an internal recruiter is a pat on the back. It shows them that you’re reviewing their progress and appreciate all the hard work that they’ve been putting in.

Partner with Learning and Development Programs

For new skills, companies find it easier to reach out to new employees rather than upskilling the current employees. On the contrary, preparing the current employees for future skills instead of recruiting talent with fixed skills can be much more beneficial in the long run. In the life sciences sector, people, especially Gen Z, want professional growth opportunities. According to the 2021 LinkedIn workplace learning report, 76% of Gen Z learners consider learning to be the key to professional growth.

Make Talent Mobility a Part of Company Culture

Managers are among the biggest barriers in internal recruitment as they don’t want to let go of talent. However, if you don’t let employees grow, then there’s a high chance that they will eventually outgrow the company altogether. To avoid this issue, HCLS companies should give managers incentives for letting top performers go. They can use anecdotes and data to help them understand how it’s a win for the company (and them) or make internal recruitment a part of their performance review.

Design a Great Candidate Experience

Every applicant comes with hope and deserves a polite response, even if the rejection is templated. Companies in the life sciences sector should provide such an experience that they feel encouraged to apply again even if they don’t get hired in the first place. It’s also a great opportunity to coach the candidates and prepare them for success next time.

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Noor-ul-Anam Ruqayya

Noor-ul-Anam Ruqayya is a software engineer that also has a passion for writing well-researched, SEO-optimized, and engaging content for a wide range of industries. She has been writing long-form content for the talent acquisition industry since 2020 and has created multiple top-ranking articles.

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