02.02.2022 Human Resources Talents

Addressing three internal labour market inequities to retain talent

Addressing three internal labour market inequities to retain talent

Unequal awareness, access and support hinder employee agility within their organization.

As the Great Resignation continues to affect organizations’ ability to hire, employers must address three inequities that may harm their ability to retain current top talent, according to Gartner, Inc.

According to a Gartner survey of 3,000 candidates conducted in June 2021, only 33% of candidates who sought out a new job in the past 12 months searched internally within their organization first.

“In today’s increasingly competitive job market, employers face added pressure to retain employees,” said Jamie Kohn, research director in the Gartner HR practice. “However, many employees are looking outside their current organizations for their next move – rather than exploring internal opportunities – because they see unfairness in the internal hiring process.”

Gartner defines a high fairness environment as one where employees perceive that their manager and organization treat them fairly. Gartner research shows just 18% of employees say they work in a high fairness environment and have an employee experience that is characterized as fair, according to a Gartner survey of 3,500 employees in 3Q21. In addition, the same survey shows employees who work in a high fairness environment perform at a level that is 26% higher than those who don’t and are 27% less likely to quit.

To create a more equitable internal labor market that enables employees to shift roles within their organization, employers must address three inequities:

Democratize Awareness Through Technology

Gartner’s June survey shows only 51% of candidates report that they are aware of internal job openings available at their organization.

Rather than relying on employee networks to spread awareness of job openings – which perpetuates inequity by limiting equal access – organizations can leverage technology to create awareness for all. To achieve this, organizations must follow three critical steps:

Ease exploration of roles and careers: Employers can use technology to help employees understand what potential career paths could look like, beyond those closely related to their current job. This approach helps employees expand their options when considering internal roles.

Enable employees to share their preferences: Employers can also utilize technology to allow employees to signal which jobs they are interested in, even if there are no current openings. This helps HR determine the level of interest for a specific role and the quality of the internal pipeline.

Alert with tailored notifications: Companies can engage employees – especially those who approach their career paths more passively – by providing notifications for new opportunities within the organization. Leading organizations are going one step further and tailoring these notifications by skills and/or interests.

Open Access to Opportunities

While employees may be aware of internal opportunities, certain employees gain an advantage on the internal market because of mentorship or better-informed careers paths. Gartner research shows the top barrier preventing candidates from pursuing a job opening internally is a preidentified favored candidate.

Looking ahead, HR leaders must create equal access by connecting candidates with exploration opportunities that align with their interests. For instance, a leading organization achieves more equitable access to their internal labor market by providing each employee with one-on-one professional coaching that includes exploration of career opportunities.

“This approach allows employees to uncover their interests, passions and motivations outside of their current job,” said Kohn. “By broadening these conversations, career coaches can connect employees with opportunities, either temporary or permanent, that match up best with their aspirations.”

Encourage Support for Mobility

Even when employees want to pursue a new role, they often feel unsupported. According to Gartner research, only 17% of candidates say their manager facilitates the process of applying for internal jobs, and only 20% feel supported by their peers and team.

To assist, HR leaders should equip managers to share knowledge about internal opportunities with their teams. Once managers understand the potential career paths for each role, they can advise their direct reports on how their skills may transfer to a new role and what they need to do to be considered.

Finally, organizations should consider allowing employees to bypass their managers in applying for new roles. For example, HR leaders can shift manager notifications to after candidates apply or before interviewing. This protects employees from uncomfortable conversations before they know if they are a strong candidate for the role.

“In today’s environment where employers cannot buy the talent they need, they must ensure their ability to retain employees,” said Kohn.