Internal Recruitment Critical to Hiring, Retention

But few companies have formal programs

By Roy Maurer Dec 2, 2015
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Since the upturn in the economy, companies have shifted their hiring focus to seeking out passive candidates. But those companies risk bypassing and potentially losing the top performers in their own workplaces.

According to several surveys, employers realize this danger but are failing to take preventive action. Of the 1,189 respondents to a recent survey from talent acquisition solutions firm Futurestep, 87 percent said that having a strong internal mobility program—where employees are encouraged to apply for new roles within their organization—would definitely help with attraction and retention efforts. However, only one-third reported that their company has such a program.

And 92 percent of 400 respondents to a succession planning survey fielded by HR compliance resources provider BLR agreed that identifying high-performers is important, but only 44 percent said that they actively attempt to identify these assets.

The Benefits of Internal Mobility

Futurestep Vice President and General Manager David Marzo explained that successful internal recruitment programs can help hiring managers learn about the competencies and aspirations of their workforce, while employees learn about potential roles in the organization. “This kind of organizational transparency can increase employee engagement and retention while shortening time to productivity,” he said.

Jenna Filipkowski, director of research for the Human Capital Institute (HCI), a global talent management association based in Cincinnati, has found that redeploying employees already familiar with the organization is often more effective for filling vacant positions than recruiting external talent. According to research conducted by HCI and Oracle and released in early 2015, 60 percent of 291 employers said workers who were promoted into jobs performed significantly better than employees hired externally into similar positions. Over half of respondents (59 percent) said their internal mobility opportunities made them more globally competitive.

“Relying on internal talent may give organizations the competitive edge they need in talent acquisition, especially when external talent is difficult to attain,” Filipkowski said. She added that hiring from within is also less expensive and quicker than hiring externally.

“Intellectual capital is difficult to replace, and having a solid internal applicant process is a big benefit to companies,” said Renae Barlieb, talent acquisition manager at First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation, based in Tysons Corner, Va. The company recently rolled out a process for its internal applicants in which the applicant tracking system links to a careers site specifically for employees. Internal applicants can view new job requisitions and submit their resumes for two days before the positions are posted to external job boards.

“We have had positive feedback from both hiring managers and employees,” Barlieb said. “Internal applicants now have a centralized location to review our company’s job openings, and hiring managers are starting to review skill sets of internal employees against job requisitions. We have seen internal applicants move both vertically within their current department as well as across departments.”

Barlieb thinks the new process will lead to better retention. “I believe employees search outside of their current company when they have limited professional development and lack of upward mobility opportunities,” she said.

Internal Mobility Barriers

Internal talent recruitment programs will never get off the ground without strategic workforce planning to address talent gaps, a solid database of employee profiles, the necessary technology to manage the process, and collaboration between different departments with responsibility for talent acquisition and retention.

“Organizations are struggling to inform their current employees of their talent needs and [are] also struggling to keep up-to-date records of their employees’ skills,” Filipkowski said. Fifty-one percent of respondents to the HCI/Oracle survey said they need to increase awareness of internal opportunities, and 38 percent said they need to update their employees’ information in order to get a better scope of their internal talent.

“Knowing what you need in the future and what you have now are key to deploying talent,” Filipkowski said. “A strong program clarifies its purpose, informs employees of position openings and allows managers to easily search talent data for better decision-making.”

Employers cannot have a strong talent management process “without knowing the skill set, experience and knowledge of your internal talent,” Barlieb agreed. To collect that information, First Guaranty is introducing a new performance management system in 2016. “A couple of months back, each employee was asked to fill out a job questionnaire about their current position. This will help the HR team with future staff planning and recruiting. As the performance management system and process is further developed, talent profiles will be a part of the process,” she said.

Forty-four percent of respondents to the HCI/Oracle survey said that employees are encouraged to identify career paths, and 56 percent said employees are well-informed about positions outside of their teams or business units.

Another barrier to internal mobility is lack of collaboration between key departments. Just over half (54 percent) of respondents to the HCI/Oracle research said recruiters and hiring managers work together to fill positions internally and 39 percent said recruiters work with talent planners to fill positions internally. Only 16 percent said the organization’s learning and development function contributes to the internal mobility process.

Of the companies with internal mobility programs responding to the Futurestep study, 40 percent said the program is offered via a dedicated internal mobility portal, and 9 percent said it is offered via a dedicated e-mail or newsletter. Problematically, nearly one-third (32 percent) said employees have to keep their intent to apply for a new position within their company a secret from their current managers.

“When developing these programs, employers should take into consideration the habits of their employees and think creatively about ways to build community and engagement,” said Marzo—or example, by leveraging content marketing techniques to deliver personalized content. “As with any candidate experience, it’s critical to meet these internal candidates where they are and make the process as seamless, engaging and accessible as possible,” he said.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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