Internal opportunities offer chances to explore new departments or areas, shift career paths, or create a better work-life balance. Gaining popularity, over half of employees would be more likely to stay at an organisation if they could explore internal career opportunities. This should be an equally popular option for employers looking to improve their retention.
How can employers make the most of their internal opportunities? Many are looking toward internal opportunity marketplaces, skills-based assignments, or short term “gigs”. Unlike relying on personal connections or private conversations with managers, these methods aim to mitigate the pitfalls of traditional internal career exploration that has mostly relied on bias or favouritism.
Employees need to identify their essential skills
However, while this format of internal movement offers employees opportunities to use their existing skills, there will be individuals who are not aware of how their skills might translate to other departments or roles, or what their complete skill set comprises: both essential and technical skills.
Beyond subjective assessment
Another challenge lies in assessing and selecting the right individuals for skills-based projects or new roles outside of their existing teams and departments. Internal decision makers need also be clear about the skillset they require in the new position. Without a comprehensive understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of internal applicants, they may rely on the subjective judgements these types of schemes are aiming to avoid.
Getting the language right
If businesses are serious about retention and internal mobility, it’s advisable to ditch the jargon and communicate in clear terms. Technical language may exclude individuals from non-technical backgrounds or implicitly favour those in certain teams. To level the playing field, organisations should carefully consider how to market the transferable skills required for these positions, ensuring the requirements and expectations are clear.
It’s fair to say that articulating ‘soft’ skills can be challenging, but one solution that has been adopted by businesses around the UK is the Universal Framework for Essential Skills. The Framework is an industry validated approach that defines the eight essential skills that everyone needs, in any role. These skills include: Listening, Speaking, Problem Solving, Creativity, Aiming High, Staying Positive, Leadership, and Teamwork.
For employers, using appropriate language to define the skills you want is more accessible, and makes the requirements and expectations transparent. Say your new project requires a resource manager, you might want to know that they are good problem solvers – is that someone who can follow instructions, or someone who can create and manage a strategy? Because the eight essential skills are broken down into steps, expressing the transferable skills required for a specific internal position or project can be consistent, and accurate, across the organisation.
For potential internal candidates, this language will support them to be better prepared to reflect on, and later display their essential skills in an internal interview. At this stage, they will have had the chance to reflect on their career with the organisation so far, and the skills they have developed, which in itself can be a motivating experience. Successful employees will be going into the new role or project with confidence in their skills, as they’ve had to demonstrate exactly where the skill match lies.
How this works in practice
Skills Builder Partnership embraces internal skills development and internal movement. One example is their project marketplace that allows individuals to lean into their strengths, and work on their development areas, while exploring the organisation’s different aspects. All projects outline the skills required for the project. Those who take up projects report feeling more engaged with the organisation, and come away from these experiences having developed their essential skills further.
Creating an internal marketplace for skills and fostering lateral movement offers a multitude of benefits for both employees and employers. By embracing transparency, eliminating favouritism, and using a common language and skills framework across job roles, organisations open up greater opportunities, enhance knowledge transfer and help to encourage a culture of learning. For employers facing recruitment challenges, who want to improve their employee retention, an investment in well-structured internal development opportunities offers a practical and realistic solution. In the current, fast-paced working landscape, those who develop their essential skills will be ready to adapt.