By James Hobley, Consultant, Deloitte

With the changing nature of work and the rise of disruptive technologies, it is becoming increasingly clear that organisations need to be smarter about how they use their talent. No longer is it the norm for employees to be doing the same role day-in day-out for the lifetime of their career (25% of current roles are predicted to be replaced by automation in the next 20 years1 and the half-life of any particular skill is between 2.5 and 5 years). Instead, employees are finding that they need to continually reinvent themselves and, with the ease at which they can find new roles, job-hopping is fast becoming the new norm in a quest to find new challenges and develop new skills.

This is an equally pressing problem for employers, with perceived lack of opportunity for employees often leading to poor morale and/or higher rates of attrition. As a result, it is now important for organisations to self-reflect and ascertain whether it is possible for them to provide the opportunities that their employees are looking for, even if it is not within the employee’s current work area. Assuming this is possible; the question that naturally follows is how can this be done?

One answer is through talent mobility – the movement of talent across departments to where an employee’s skills are needed most.

We were recently commissioned by a leading employer to look at this area and to survey other organisations in an effort to understand how they were addressing this challenge. Our research identified three main pathways that can enable organisations to open up the movement of talent:

1)     Internal Mobility – movement of employees sideways into roles with similar levels of seniority in other areas of the business.

2)     Upward Mobility/Promotions – consideration of candidates for senior roles from across the business – not just in the immediate business unit.

3)     Global Mobility – drawing upon talent globally.

We found that, in this model, ‘best in class’ employers look to institute dynamic processes to move talent seamlessly from role to role: vertically, horizontally, and diagonally upwards. For these organisations, mobility is viewed as a positive opportunity and, with an understanding of their global capabilities (and weaknesses), have a real push to deploy talent based on what is best for the business as a whole.

Of the organisations surveyed only 4% are currently making the most of these pathways. When asked why not, one common sentiment was that implementing talent mobility was far harder than you might think and often requires a cultural shift within the organisation.

It does not have to be this way though! Organisations can take small steps towards this goal by putting in place tools to help better facilitate such movement. Ideas include implementing an internal jobs board open to everyone or by using HR cloud technology to pro-actively target particular skill sets for specific vacancies. Simple policies can help promote talent mobility too – such as advertising all roles internally for 2 weeks before opening up to external applications.

So where can I start?

If you’re interested in exploring talent mobility, you can perform a simple health check by answering the following questions:

1)     Is the movement of talent seen as a strategic enabler of the business?

2)     Is investment in talent mobility seen as necessary to drive competitive advantage?

3)     Are managers held accountable for aligning talent mobility with broader business objectives?

4)     Are moves seamless and borderless?

If the answer is ‘no’ to two or more of these questions you may then wish to ask ‘why’? Although on the surface a simple question, the answer to this might lead you to understand your business in a whole new way. If it helps, and if you would like to know more about the work Deloitte Global Workforce are doing in this area, please let us know!


James Hobley, Deloitte

I am a Consultant in Deloitte’s Global Workforce team, focusing on transformation of Global Workforce and Mobility programmes. As well as research into the Future of Work, recent projects have included the design of a comprehensive business travel solution (covering tax, immigration, and regulatory compliance) and advising on mobility process enhancements to maximise the effectiveness of robotic process automation (RPA).

I’ve been fortunate to have lived and worked in both Canada and the US, but now live in London, UK where I can be found playing Viola in several different amateur orchestras.

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  1. World Economic Forum ‘The Future of Jobs Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ 2016



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