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3 Reasons Why Talent Mobility Should Be Your Company’s Top Priority in 2021

March 9, 2021 at 9:30 AM

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As the name implies, talent mobility is the movement of workers within and across an enterprise. Whether it’s deploying people between projects, teams, divisions or locations, the goal is improving employee retention while supporting the corporate culture, achieving organizational objectives, and advancing the company’s business strategy.

In the fall of 2020, we surveyed over 600 human resources and learning and development professionals, including nearly 100 executive/C-level leaders. The purpose of the survey was to determine:

  • How leaders saw the scope and impact of workforce skills gaps
  • How they were responding to the widening of these gaps
  • The role education benefits play in the organization
  • If and how these benefits were incorporated into their strategic plans

The responses were compiled into a newly-released report, Reimagining the Workforce 2021 - Closing the Skills Gap Through Education. One of the best practices highlighted was using talent mobility as a means of narrowing the growing skills gaps within the organizations of the HR and L&D professionals who were surveyed.

Here, then, are three key reasons why talent mobility should be every company’s top priority in 2021.

1. Businesses need to meet organizational goals

While a number of companies in the U.S. and abroad already allowed their employees to work remotely, the coronavirus pandemic prompted many more to send their staffs home to do their jobs – some for the first time.

As Forbes notes in Talent Mobility: The Key to Unlocking Your Organization’s Potential, having a mobile talent pool makes it possible for companies to shift gears or pivot quickly to respond to industry changes and meet business goals. To help ensure a company has the right people at the right time to meet its needs, it’s up to HR and L&D professionals to determine the exact skills needed.

Key findings in the study included that upskilling/reskilling employees is the top way to close the skills gap, according to 57% of respondents. They preferred it to hiring new workers (56%) or outsourcing the work (33%).

However, fewer than half (48%) reported having tuition assistance programs at their company. What’s more, only 37% responded their company offered scholarship opportunities to develop new skills.

2. It's quicker and less expensive to promote from within

We all know it’s easier to keep a valued employee than for that employee to leave and the employer having to hire a new one. Tuition assistance programs are proven to not only educate employees and build critical skills, but foster talent mobility and improve employee retention – all of which saves time, effort and expense.

However, the report found 30% of survey respondents noted tuition assistance programs were not offered because they were not included in their company’s strategic plan – and/or they were not supported by the organization’s leaders. In fact, 28% of C-suite executives stated that, “their staff does not require these benefits.”

Yet as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) points out, internal hires not only possess organizational knowledge that new hires do not, they usually settle into their new roles more quickly than those hired from the outside.

3. Empowering employees develops future leaders

And as is the case with internal promotions versus new hires, developing tomorrow’s executives from existing talent is less costly than bringing a new manager on board. It also improves retention rates, according to The Wall Street Journal in an article, How to Develop Future Leaders.

Experts interviewed for the WSJ article recommended creating an in-house leadership development program for promising employees. It would give those with management potential opportunities for mentorships, management training and coaching. While it’s possible some candidates may drop out of the program for various reasons, having senior members tutor them may help improve their chances of success.

Workplace education is the key

Talent mobility is going to become increasingly important going forward, even after COVID-19 restrictions are eventually lifted. This is why it’s in the best interests of companies large and small to make it a priority in 2021. Organizations with robust workplace education programs can literally transform themselves into agile businesses capable of meeting today’s myriad challenges.

By aligning their talent strategy with their business strategy, companies will find it easier to respond to the constant changes within their industries. Furthermore, they’ll evolve into employers of choice, with the ability to attract – and retain – the best and brightest talent from many diverse backgrounds.

To learn more about how Wiley Beyond can work with your company to strengthen your existing tuition assistance framework or develop a new program, download Reimagining the Workforce 2021 - Closing the Skills Gap Through Education now.



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Deb Volzer

Written by Deb Volzer

Dr. Debra Volzer is Sr. Director of State and Workforce Development for Wiley Education Services. Her focus is to identify, engage and secure innovative learning partners interested in closing the skills gap. Her efforts work collaboratively with Industry and Learning Partners to identify and align models and solutions that increase learner success and streamline pathways to skills attainment. In this role she works to identify and align a shared vision and promotes collaboration of next-generation education solutions. Prior to joining Wiley, Volzer worked with corporations including Pearson North America, Barnes and Noble Education and Community College Futures Assembly and held administrative and teaching positions at the Ohio Board of Regents, Ohio Learning Network, the Ohio State University, Franklin University and Ohio Dominican. Volzer holds degree from the University of Kansas, Yale University and the Ohio State University.