CURRENT STATE 

Although organizations understand the need for more mobility in their workforce, common barriers such as budget and time constraints hold them back. However, there are also barriers such as a lack of defined paths and lack of transparency that also are indicative of why organizations are struggling with talent mobility. 

COMPLICATIONS 

Besides the most obvious challenge (a lack of budget/resources), two other complications plague organizations looking to increase the capabilities of their workforce: a lack of career paths and a lack of career coaches. These two obstacles, a lack of options and a lack of internal or external support, show that increasing employee capabilities is not a high priority in many organizations. 

Organizations that are looking to have a more capable and mobile workforce must allocate budget for increasing the capabilities of their workforce but must do so in a focused and direct way – by auditing their career pathing opportunities and finding ways to increase employee mobility, and by investing in internal and external coaching resources. 

The other major barriers that are worth examining are the absence of individualized career plans tied to skill development, and a lack of transparency about those career paths. It should seem obvious that without knowing about career opportunities, employees will have a hard time setting off on a path to achieve those opportunities. 

Likewise, in modern career pathing and skill development, individualization and customization are the name of the game. Career plans should be personalized for the employees, and accessible at the place and time that works best for them. A one-size fits all approach to skill development will not work in the current world of work, and thus your employees will not achieve the type of mobility needed for a truly dynamic workplace. 

CONSEQUENCES 

Overcoming the barriers to career development will have consequences that go beyond simply having more skilled workers. The organizations that open up these opportunities will become more agile, and thus able to deal with a more complex, volatile external world. Employees will understand their place in the organizational culture and community and will become coaches for the next generation of hires. The entire organization will grow from having a more skilled and mobile workforce — one that is able to see and select their own path and have that path supported the entire way in their organization.

CRITICAL QUESTION 

To improve your organization’s ability to overcome the barriers to skill development and mobility of your workforce, you need to determine what people, processes, and technology you have in place to help you grow. Organizations should look at their capabilities (and true desire) to overcome those barriers, and ask themselves the following questions: 

  • What technology exists within the organization to help overcome existing barriers to employee skill development and mobility? 
  • Who is accountable for maintaining and improving employee capabilities and internal movement? 
  • What resources, in terms of time and budget, can be allocated to improving employee skill development and mobility?
  • Which metrics are most useful when determining the effectiveness of employee skill development practices to prove the ROI of these activities? 

BRANDON HALL GROUP POV 

Be transparent with career pathing 

Too many organizations are not curious enough about the advanced technologies that can help them hire, develop and retain the top talent they need to thrive. Budget constraints don’t prohibit talent leaders from getting educated so they can make a compelling business case when the time arises. 

Be transparent with career pathing 

Too many organizations are not curious enough about the advanced technologies that can help them hire, develop and retain the top talent they need to thrive. Budget constraints don’t prohibit talent leaders from getting educated so they can make a compelling business case when the time arises. 

Encourage participation on teams by creating cross-functional assignments 

Encourage cross-functional and cross-divisional interactions with existing employees. This is especially important for remote/hybrid workers. This helps engage current employees and establish communities but also encourages mobility by showing jobs and career opportunities that some employees may have been unaware of. 

Create skill development plans that are personalized and encourage career growth 

Not everyone approaches their own development the same way. In order to maximize participation in skill development and mobility, make sure that your skill development plans are personalized for different types of employees: some prefer learning informally from peers at their own pace, others prefer a rigid and fixed schedule, etc. In order to create personalization at scale though, you will need a technology solution that has the ability to provide multiple options for employees to choose from, which should be factored into your technology selection process. 

Cliff Stevenson

Cliff Stevenson is Principal Analyst, Workforce Management Practice, for Brandon Hall Group. He came to Brandon Hall Group in 2015 from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) where he was a senior analyst since 2012. Cliff's experience as human capital research analyst has focused on data and analytics, performance management, recruitment, acquisition, retention, and attrition.