Employee mobility is the ability of an employee to move physically or professionally within an organization or career.

Employee mobility is often demonstrated through promotion, job transfer, or change in location.  

What are the types of employee mobility?

There are three types of employee mobility: internal mobility, external mobility, and talent mobility. We detail each below.

Internal mobility

Internal mobility refers to an employee changing roles within an organization. Internal mobility means an employee takes on a new position within the same company, either through vertical mobility or horizontal mobility:

  • Vertical mobility. The employee moves up within the organization, typically through a promotion, increase in compensation, or level of responsibility. For example, a sales representative is promoted to a managerial role that oversees the sales team. Vertical mobility allows employees the opportunity to play a role in more strategic missions and earn higher pay. 
  • Horizontal mobility. The employee moves into a new role with equivalent or similar responsibilities to their previous role. For example, an employee switches to another department within the same job class. Horizontal mobility allows employees to diversify and expand their skills without taking on new responsibilities or larger workloads. 

Overall, an internal mobility program increases employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention. Employees invest in their career development and are loyal to a specific company. 

External mobility

External mobility refers to an employee leaving a job at one company and starting another job at a different company. An employee takes a new position with another company to pursue their career goals. For example, an employee who works in IT decides to pivot from the tech industry to become a teacher.

External mobility benefits employees looking to start a new career, learn a different trade, or create their own company.

Talent mobility

Talent mobility, also referred to as global mobility, is when an employee can work for their company from anywhere. An example of talent mobility is when a company allows an employee to work abroad on an international assignment or move to another state to be closer to their family while still keeping their job. 

Talent mobility provides many advantages for employers and employees. For example, talent mobility enables employers to retain top talent by offering their employees the option to work abroad or relocate abroad while keeping their jobs.

Plus, if employers adopt a talent mobility program, they also open the door to global hiring, allowing them to hire the right person for the right job at the right time—regardless of location. 

For employees, a talent mobility program enables them to work in different cities, states, and countries—whether for job assignments or for personal reasons—where they can learn new skills and perspectives.

Plus, if an employer’s talent mobility program includes remote work, employees can enjoy more work-life balance by working from home or flexible workspaces.  

Why is employee mobility important?

Overall, employee mobility is essential in helping any business achieve its short-term and long-term goals. Employee mobility not only enables employers to attract and retain top talent, but it gives employees more freedom to work at their best, whether that means changing roles and careers or changing their work location.

We dive deeper into these benefits below.

Improves talent attraction and retention

Employee mobility is a crucial differentiator for companies when it comes to competing for talent around the world. Talent wants flexibility at work, options to grow and excel in their career, and the ability to work from anywhere, so companies offering employee mobility are more attractive to highly skilled candidates. 

Employee mobility is also crucial for international businesses expanding into new global markets. Employees can move to different locations aligned with their personal and professional goals while the company tests new markets and broadens their access to top talent. 

Bolsters employee morale

Employee mobility allows talent to change roles, pick up new skills, get promoted, or work from anywhere. Allowing employees to change positions enhances productivity, opens up lines of communication and team collaboration, and increases overall employee satisfaction.

Employee mobility, such as internal mobility, establishes clear pathways of advancement and encourages employees to seek further training, feedback, and growth opportunities within the organization. Talent mobility allows employees flexibility to enjoy work-life balance and achieve their career goals simultaneously.

Supports long-term business success

Employee mobility helps businesses build a long-term, high-quality distributed workforce by hiring the best people for the job at the right time, regardless of location.

Employers also retain talent already aligned with the company culture and processes. Employee mobility allows employers to maintain a dedicated and loyal workforce.

How to improve employee mobility in the workplace

Consider the following tips for how to improve employee mobility in your organization:

Understand your employees' needs

The future of work and what talent wants is constantly evolving. If an employee feels like their employer meets their needs, they are more likely to look for mobility opportunities within the same organization rather than looking elsewhere. 

Employers should seek to understand what employees want in the workplace, such as more flexible work schedules, remote work policies, and better life-work balance. They should then strategize how to provide these employment experiences accordingly.

Incorporate an upskilling program

An upskilling program is a form of employee mobility that allows existing staff to develop new skills to advance their career. An upskilling program gives talent the opportunity to advance their career while on the job rather than seek other methods for advancement outside of working hours.

Employers who demonstrate a strong dedication to upskilling their staff through additional education, training, and mentoring reap the benefits of a more loyal, engaged, productive, and successful workforce.

Implement a work-from-anywhere policy

Talent wants the ability to work from anywhere, and remote work has become a standard for many businesses seeking to attract top talent and test new markets. Building and managing a remote workforce allows organizations to source from a larger talent pool and improve employee retention.

Hire talent beyond borders

Today, employers and employees are no longer confined by borders. Oftentimes employers can engage the perfect candidate for a job regardless of their location—especially with the help from an employer of record (EOR) which enables quick and compliant global hiring without entities.

Building a global workforce not only helps your organization meet business needs on time and on budget, but it shows current and future talent that you value employee mobility, which makes your business a more enticing option for future job seekers.

Use technology that enables employee mobility

Technology is a critical component in making employee mobility possible. Technology removes barriers and silos, encouraging better organization, participation, and collaboration.

For example, a business may invest in web-based communication and product management technology like Zoom, Slack, and Asana to allow a distributed, asynchronous workforce to work efficiently and collaboratively regardless of their location or time zone.

Additionally, HR teams may invest in a cloud-based workforce management platform that streamlines virtual onboarding, global payroll, and other employment workflows so they can easily hire, pay, and support a distributed team regardless of their location.

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