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How to Recession-Proof Your Company with an Internal Mobility Strategy

Published almost 2 years ago • 3 min read

For this week’s Workplace Intelligence newsletter, I interviewed Siobhan Savage, an award-winning HR leader. As CEO and Co-Founder of Reejig, Siobhan has built a team of some of the brightest international minds in HR, data science, software engineering and operations to build the world’s first workforce intelligence platform powered by independently audited Ethical Talent AI.

In our conversation, we discussed the question that many leaders are asking as they continue to face mass turnover issues and discussions of a possible recession: How can we recession-proof our workforce with internal mobility now to protect us down the line? It’s a challenging dilemma, one that can only be addressed with strategic thinking, scenario planning, and even a mindset shift for some organizations. Read on for a summary of Siobhan’s insights.

The growing need for companies to focus on internal mobility

The last two years for HR professionals, executives, and business leaders could easily feel like 30 years. With incredibly challenging health, working, and economic shifts occurring almost concurrently, people leaders have felt the pressure to make crucial decisions about their workforce, and get those decisions right.

This pressure ranges from retaining their people and maintaining productivity and growth right through to shareholder impacts. In fact, recent McKinsey research shows that the moves companies make now can account for half of the difference in total shareholder returns between leading companies and lagging companies in the next business cycle.

Many organizations faced turmoil when pandemic-related issues and a lack of visibility and mobility resulted in mass turnover of their people — and mass hiring needs only months later.

It’s understandable that now, as we face growing discussions of a possible recession, business and people leaders are trying to change their decisions of the past and focus on mobilizing their current workforce into the roles they need to protect themselves and their business, rather than lose employees at scale.

The 5 steps leaders should take to solve these challenges and build an internal mobility strategy

1. Start with scenario planning and skill identification.

It’s crucial to understand the key skills you need to retain, and the skills you need to develop in any number of scenarios that can arise from the current economic environment. Plan for a number of scenarios and which skills you’ll need to retain to spot areas where skills need to be developed aggressively, and where you’ll need to acquire new talent. Remember; this can only be done when you have 100% visibility over the skills you have in your workforce today.

2. Take a three-pronged approach to understanding the skills you’ll need.

Every business is currently undergoing some form of transformation, and to continue growing or navigating current economic pressures, you need to start with getting a good view of the skills you need now and in the long-term vision for your business. Secondly, review the current skills you have and what’s missing between those two spaces. And thirdly, understand what your people want and where they’re willing to grow, reskill and develop. You can’t mobilize your workforce without first knowing they want to be mobilized.

3. Adopt a skills-based mindset to mobility.

For many organizations, mobility is seen as simply moving people out of jobs, into other roles, or promoting them. Instead, people leaders need to take a skills-based mindset and focus on building the toolkit or backpack of skills for their people — what new skills can you acquire into roles, and what skills can you further develop by mobilizing your people? What skills are transferable and be applied to a new position or even department? That’s mobility in a future age.

4. Strike a balance between your talent teams.

Without a balanced approach to your workforce strategy, you’re at risk of paralyzing one part of your strategy, or worse, your business. Taking a macro approach to your workforce strategy allows you to marry together talent acquisition, talent management, and talent mobility teams to work towards one singular strategy and hire the right people, develop the right skills and mobilize the right parts of your workforce.

5. Take this time as your moment to enact a Zero Wasted Potential strategy.

Now is the time for people leaders to help businesses optimize their workforces and avoid the pains of the past. We’re invited to have a seat on the strategic business agenda and cannot waste it. Design your workforce mobility strategies to retain the people you have, fill skills gaps and place the right people with the right skills in the right place to not just survive but thrive through the coming months and years.

With 41% of surveyed people leaders not actively tracking their internal mobility statistics but wanting to, it’s clear that people leaders and talent teams have an opportunity now to shift their workforce strategies. With complete visibility over the people — and their skills — within your organization, leaders can shift from a reactive approach to one that is considered and backed by data, preparing your business for any scenario and knowing you’ll utilize every skill you have operating inside of it.

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