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How to build a culture that supports internal talent development and mobility

It’s safe to say that everyone has experienced some sort of change in their day-to-day job during the last 18 months. Through all of this change, one thing has become starkly apparent – it’s vital to nurture talent and promote internal mobility within an organisation.

As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, employees everywhere are wanting support to learn, grow and future-proof their careers.

They understand that the very nature of work is changing, and if they are to remain relevant, they will need to acquire new skills to fill the jobs of the future.

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For the most part, employers understand this pressing need for career and skills development. Yet we find ourselves in an unusual situation whereby some are experiencing a shortage of skills concurrently with an overcapacity of outdated skills. Employers need to adapt their approach at pace.

Consultancy LHH’s Resetting Normal research found that 68% of all respondents – leaders, frontline managers, and non-managers – believe that upskilling is important, but 42% are concerned about not having skills relevant to the future of work.

This is largely because they aren’t getting access to opportunities to upskill. For instance, only a handful of managers and senior leaders have access to these sorts of resources. That might explain why only 31% of non-managers believe that their leaders are willing to give them time and resources for upskilling. 

There is a challenge for employers and employees to find a way to communicate about what is needed, and purposeful action is required to create a culture of lifelong learning and development.

So, what can organisations do to create cultures that support internal talent development?

Everything filters down from the top

Senior leaders must show their support for employee upskilling by providing them with the resources to do so, and by actively encouraging employees to use them. Providing employees with the time and tools to work on their skillsets shows them their value, and ultimately leads to more positive conversations on the topic. Leaders must communicate purposefully with staff to let them know that career and skills development are essential for long-term success.

Purposeful career conversations

Far too many people are discouraged from seeking career and skills development because they think their managers do not want to spare them the time to engage in upskilling, or believe their managers are not interested in their careers. Managers should schedule regular career conversations with their people to identify how to continuously develop their people and decisively support their skills renewal.

Reimagine and renew 

A culture of internal talent development is one that appreciates the value of lifelong learning. It’s a win-win for both organisation and employee if opportunities to upskill (even if not directly related to their day-to-day role) are encouraged. Organisations should place less of a focus on preventative actions and instead reimagine their approach to create proactive internal talent mobility.

Make sure your employees know they share the responsibility for career and skills development

Although organisational support is important, it also requires individual drive and responsibility. Organisations can help by opening doors to upskilling opportunities and foster cultures where internal movement is actively encouraged, but it’s still up to the individual to take their career where they want it to go.

Creating a culture and providing the mechanisms that allow employees to flourish can create benefits for both the individual and the organisation. For the individual, it’s the opportunity to learn, grow and achieve true career fulfilment. For the organisation, it’s the opportunity to create renewable talent in an ever-competitive market and empower people to achieve their full potential.

Julie-Ann Keeble is HR director at LHH UK & Ireland