What Is Internal Talent Mobility and How Can It Support Retention?

Time to Read: 5 minutes

Updated: April 4, 2024

Often our first response to solving skills gaps and staff shortages within our organization is to look outside ourselves for new talent. However, within your business, there exists a wealth of skilled individuals who either already have the expertise you need or who are ideally placed to develop exactly the right skills to solve your problems. Nearly 180,000 jobs were created in the US last month, yet only 10% of new roles are filled by internal hires. Learning how to support internal talent mobility requires careful planning. In this article we’ll explore the different types of internal mobility and help you build processes that support the movement of talent within your organization.

Defining Internal Talent Mobility

Internal talent mobility is the movement of employees within an organization, allowing them to take on different roles, responsibilities, or positions over time. Instead of hiring externally to fill specific positions, you focus on identifying and developing the skills of your existing employees, letting them progress within the company.

The goal is to provide employees with opportunities for growth, skill development, and career advancement while simultaneously meeting your organization’s needs for talent in different areas.

How Internal Talent Mobility Supports Retention

Encouraging employees to grow within your organization helps you retain valuable skills and expertise. Employees who feel they can develop, and grow are loyal and dedicated to the organization, reducing turnover. Other benefits of internal talent mobility that support retention include:

Skill Development

Employees can acquire a diverse set of skills and experiences by moving across different roles, contributing to their overall professional development.

Knowledge Transfer

Internal mobility facilitates the transfer of knowledge within the organization, as employees bring their existing expertise to new roles.

Cost Savings

Recruiting externally can be expensive and time-consuming. Internal talent mobility allows organizations to fill open positions with existing employees, reducing recruitment costs. Failing to develop current staff costs businesses $49 million annually in recruitment costs and lost productivity.

Increased Engagement

Employees are more likely to be engaged and motivated when they see a future for themselves within the organization.

Finally, when your existing employees have positive experiences with you, they spread the word. This can form a key part of your employer brand and makes attracting new talent easier.

Types of Internal Talent Mobility

Different employees will have varying career aspirations and development needs. Internal talent mobility is not a one-size-fits-all approach. A balanced policy involves using a mix of mobility types including, but not limited to:


The most common type of internal mobility, promotions involve moving employees to higher-level positions within the same department or a different department. They are typically used when an employee has demonstrated exceptional performance, acquired additional skills, or when a higher-level position becomes available. This type of mobility is beneficial for recognizing and rewarding top performers.

Lateral Movement

Lateral moves have employees taking on a different role at the same hierarchical level or similar responsibility level within the organization. Moves like this are useful when an employee wants to explore a different function, gain exposure to various aspects of the business, or when there’s a need for a skill transfer between departments. This type of mobility helps in broadening an employee’s skill set and perspective.

Cross-Functional Assignments

These assignments involve employees working in a different functional area or department for a specific project or period. They are beneficial when organizations aim to develop collaboration, innovation, and the exchange of ideas between departments. Cross-functional assignments help employees understand the organization’s overall functioning and encourage the sharing of best practices.

Job Rotations

In job rotations employees move through a series of roles or departments at regular intervals. Rotations are beneficial for developing well-rounded employees with a comprehensive understanding of the organization. This type of mobility is suitable for improving adaptability and preparing employees for leadership roles.

A successful internal mobility strategy involves a thoughtful combination of promotions, lateral moves, cross-functional assignments, and job rotations. It’s important to recognize that each type of internal mobility will contribute differently to skills development and employee engagement. You should always consider both your goals as a business, and an individual’s personal goals for their career.

Tips for Creating an Internal Mobility Process

Before you begin using internal talent mobility in your organization, you’ll need to put in place processes that support it. Here are our tips for creating an internal mobility strategy:

Identify Talent Gaps

Where are the existing gaps that could be filled by internal movement? Conduct gap analyses by comparing existing skill sets with those required for upcoming projects or strategic initiatives and regularly assess current and future organizational needs to identify areas with skill shortages.

Define Your Goals

What do you want to achieve by moving talent internally? Establish specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for internal talent mobility, that match with broader company goals and growth plans.

Assess the Skills of Existing Employees

Who has skills that other areas of the business could benefit from? Equally who could benefit from expanding their skills in new areas? Conduct skill assessments, including performance evaluations, self-assessments, and discussions with managers. Use tools like competency frameworks to identify strengths and areas for improvement, to get a holistic understanding of each employee’s capabilities.

Create Pathways for Career Progression

How will employees access internal mobility opportunities? Develop clear career paths and progression frameworks that outline the skills and experiences required for advancement. Communicate these pathways to employees and provide guidance on how they can navigate their careers within the organization.

Provide Training and Support

How will you support employees and managers to ensure internal moves are successful? Offer targeted training programs and development opportunities to bridge skill gaps identified during assessments. Provide mentorship, coaching, and resources to support employees in their new roles, ensuring a smooth transition and ongoing success.

If you are looking for innovative ways to improve your talent attraction and retention Pierpoint’s full service RPO solution could be the answer. Talk to an expert today to discuss your talent needs.

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Jen Mulholland

Jen is a successful recruitment and marketing professional. Driven by a genuine passion for writing, she provides insightful, accurate and engaging content for the Human Resources community across a wide range of topics and industries.

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