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David Cohen


Senior Director Talent Solutions Northern Europe

Read more about David Cohen

Internal mobility and retention: How to hold on to your best and brightest


The number one reason professionals leave a job is not for more money or better perks, but because they see a better opportunity for career advancement elsewhere. That was one of the findings from a recent piece of LinkedIn research looking into the trends around internal mobility and how companies look after and develop existing talent. 

What should worry business leaders is the apparent disconnect between how well they may think they’re doing at retaining their top talent and the reality. According to the same research, 67% of HR professionals in the UK think that their internal mobility programmes were well known among employees. This is in stark contrast to the quarter of employees who said they were actually aware of them.

For businesses in all industries, top talent is very often high in demand and low in supply. As recruiters focus their efforts on getting the best talent into their organisation, many forget that they risk losing the great talent they already have.

Seven percent of annual average company turnover in the UK is preventable. This unnecessary loss of great talent is costing businesses big time, both in terms of recruitment costs and productivity. In fact, recent figures estimate that it costs anywhere between one to three times an employee’s salary to replace them.

So what can business leaders do to reduce this unnecessary cost and boost retention among their best talent?

  • Shout out about great internal hires: Don’t underestimate the power of publicising internal success stories. Over two-thirds of British employees believe it’s easier to find an open position outside rather than inside their company, so prove them wrong. If an employee has moved teams, share the news, whether that’s through newsletters, the company intranet or social media channels. And make sure to include details – why they moved, what they’ll be bringing to the position, how it will help them and the company advance. That will then help others understand how they could contribute to and benefit from an internal move.
  • Invest in technology: For larger organisations, it can be difficult to have visibility of talent across all markets. So many are now investing in online technology to help them harness insights and target those beginning to network or look externally. For example, Westpac Group saw an immediate uplift in internal applications when it started using LinkedIn to display internal job listings. 
  • Remind newcomers: It’s unlikely that a new recruit will immediately start thinking about where they can move next, but the onboarding process provides employers with the perfect opportunity to introduce their internal mobility programme. This not only raises awareness of opportunities early, but also shows dedication to advancing employees’ careers beyond hire.

As well as raising awareness, there are other ways you can encourage your employees to remain loyal to the company – for example, building their opinions and voices into your talent brand.

Your talent brand is anything that shows what your company is like as a workplace, and no one can help you enhance and spread that branding more than your current workers. This could mean anything from encouraging feedback on your working environment and using it to improve your offering, to converting your team into brand ambassadors who share their experiences with their networks. It may sound simple, but our research shows that by involving employees in talent branding, businesses could reduce turnover by up to a further 28%.

It’s of course vital that companies keep pace with the market by pursuing great hires, but HR departments shouldn’t neglect their top performers in the interim. Even happy employees aren’t guaranteed to stick around – according to our data, over half of candidates actively looking for a new job are satisfied in their current role – so it’s key that the career development and growth of existing talent is just as valued as that of external people. Ultimately, an internal hire kills three birds with one stone – you fill the role, retain a good employee and improve your talent brand by practicing what you preach – so investing in retention should be a no-brainer.

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David Cohen

Senior Director Talent Solutions Northern Europe

Read more from David Cohen

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