With an average job tenure of 3.3 years, Australia’s workforce is seeking mobility more than ever before. An average Australian will have five careers and 17 employers during their lifetime, with younger employees frequently changing careers, retraining, and moving. Studies have shown that employees leave their jobs when they no longer find it enjoyable, when their strengths aren’t being used, and when they aren’t growing their careers.
All of these issues can be addressed by providing your employees a mobility pathway where they can develop their career in the direction of their choosing. You must offer career development opportunities — or risk losing your best talent.
In the public sector, effective mobility creates a pool of cross-trained employees who are more confident, productive, and efficient. Mobile employees understand their roles within the shifting landscape of government. In our experience, providing employees with career development opportunities empowers them which leads to an overall shift in productivity.
So, here are the 6 steps you need to take to create an effective mobility program for development:
STEP 1: Explain the benefits of mobility to all stakeholders involved
Mobility can be difficult to understand. Not only is it a non-traditional concept relating directly to the modern workforce, it’s something that needs to be adopted both at an industry level and an organisational level to see the most substantial benefits.
Since mobility offers a tremendous variety of benefits, getting stakeholders on board requires those benefits to be communicated effectively to all levels of the organisation. For your employees, individual career goals will be easier to achieve. For managers, employees are more likely to be productive and engaged. For your organisation, mobility increases motivation, and develops well-trained and well-rounded employees.
Stakeholders must be excited and engaged: they must view mobility initiatives for what they are, an opportunity. Stakeholders need to understand not only the benefits of mobility but also how it will be achieved within your organisation. Each stakeholder must have their own responsibilities, be engaged, supportive and contribute to ensure success.
STEP 2: Provide clarity and help your management team with implementation
For the program to be successful, your senior managers need to act as champions of mobility. Employees will take its cues from upper management. A full management buy-in is needed to build a supportive culture around mobility, and to openly value the process.
When your managers are engaged and supportive of the mobility process, it becomes successful. You help managers become engaged when they understand the mobility process, and its benefits for themselves, their team, and your agency. Examples of this may include:
- When a position becomes vacant or a new role is created, managers should advertise the opportunity internally before seeking a new, external employee.
- When recruiting for higher-level positions, managers should consider offering training to existing employees before hiring external employees.
- When reviewing employee behaviour and career development, employees should be invited to discuss their own career goals.
- When identifying the skills and experience necessary for new positions, managers should only include aspects that are truly necessary. This is key and common mistake made by hiring managers.
These are only a few examples of how your internal processes and procedures can be re-designed to support mobility. Each of these process changes have a direct benefit to both your employees and the organisation.
STEP 3: Implement a user-friendly platform to facilitate mobility
Potential opportunities should be visible and promoted to employees, to plan correctly and to avoid being drawn to other organisations. If your employees don’t enjoy their current role or want to grow their career, this platform will identify which opportunities are open to them. Whether this is hosted on a custom platform or internal intranet, your entire organisation needs to be aware and active. Not only do employees need to be able to quickly and easily review relevant opportunities for them, but managers need to ensure each new role they are recruiting for is posted.
With the appropriate platform, you can better manage your organisation’s talent pool, and reach out to potential candidates who have the right skills and/or capabilities. On an organisational level, you will be able to find employees with transferable skills, who are already familiar with your organisation. You can also easily identify which individuals are interested in mobility, while employees will be able to recognise there are career development opportunities available to them. Additionally, depending on the quality of your platform, organisations should be able to review and report on their workforce’s capability, skills and any gaps that require attention.
STEP 4: Track your workforce capability gaps and future needs
Managers need to understand individual employees, their strengths, weaknesses, and goals. An internal mobility program with an appropriate platform allows you to track employee skills and capabilities, thereby making it easier to quickly analyse your organisation’s needs and potential gaps.
If your management team understand the resources available to them, they will be empowered to address any staffing issues and fulfil any gaps through training and development.
Higher rates of mobility aid your organisation by translating different skills into different departments, and by providing a broad picture overview of the organisation to all employees. As mobility increases, managers will find themselves working with employees who already have significant knowledge of the organisation’s processes and procedures, rather than working with new, external employees over time. Managers with a better understanding of their mobile workforce will be able to better leverage this connection, rather than attempting to chase specific skill sets in external hires which is also made worse by the high cost of recruitment.
STEP 5: Reward and recognise your team’s mobility efforts
To encourage employees to engage with a mobility program, you should showcase individuals who have used mobility for personal or team development. Managers who have been able to successfully utilise mobility on the organisation’s behalf should be recognised and rewarded. You should ensure employees who have successfully moved into other areas of the organisation are given continued support, training, and resources.
By rewarding and recognising this behaviour, you can create a culture that is focused around deploying employees to their most successful and satisfying positions, utilising the skills that they have and building the skills that they don’t.
STEP 6: Consider cross-agency partnerships that might be mutually beneficial
Creating partnerships with relevant organisations or other internal business units, can ensure you secure the motivated and ambitious employees needed to succeed and provide an opportunity for useful understanding and better collaboration between partnerships.
Cross-agency partnerships don’t need to be permanent; when two agencies work together on a project, it may make sense for an employee to be transferred to the other agency for the duration of the project. Through this, both organisations can achieve better results, and the employee will return to your organisation with renewed confidence and knowledge. As an example, Transport NSW and Sydney Trains are closely connected. A mobility partnership would benefit both parties, as employees could cross-train and gain an understanding of the processes and procedures of each other’s agency.
Through mobility programs, organisations can achieve their own workforce development goals, increase capability at a much lower cost while improving employee satisfaction and retention. In a mobile organisation, employees will be highly skilled, well-trained, and confident in their abilities. However, it can be difficult to develop a mobility program from the ground up. A systematic approach and the appropriate tools can make it easier — especially when guided by experienced, knowledgeable professionals.
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