Internal Employee Mobility Pitfalls - Learn what they are and how to avoid them

Avoid mobility program pitfalls by addressing key needs of leadership, employees, managers, and recruiters.
AUG 16, 2023

Mobility expands the learning and skills development opportunities for employees within an organization. It is a win-win for organizations and employees alike, but there are pitfalls to be aware of and avoid. We present these pitfalls through the lens of four different personas. Each persona represents an entity or group of people typically involved with mobility inside an organization. Avoid mobility program pitfalls by addressing key needs of leadership, employees, managers, and recruiters.


There are 4 personas linked to the mobility problem:

  • Leadership – defines the vision for mobility
  • Employee – the mobility protagonist
  • Manager – the mobility enabler
  • Recruiter – acquires the talent


By viewing potential pitfalls from the perspective of each persona, it is easier to identify measures that facilitate cross-persona collaboration within a broader mobility strategy.


Pitfalls: the organization’s leadership


This persona’s goal is to achieve growth through continuity, employee retention and building a future-fit workforce while reducing recruitment and onboarding costs. Key pitfalls are:


Does everyone know what your point of view is on mobility?


For mobility to be a success, there must be a point of view on career development, and it should be clear to others across the organization. If there is no point of view or vision, a mobility solution or programme will likely fail.


Can everyone see evidence of role modelling?


If there are no mobility role models – if employees do not see others moving fluidly from one role to another – there is little point formalizing a vision and philosophy for mobility. Employees may view a lack of role modelling as evidence of the organization’s failure to support their career development, which can harm engagement and retention.


Pitfalls: the employee


This persona’s objective is to achieve their career goals through support from their employer. The employee is the protagonist in every mobility strategy, but pitfalls include:


  • Many employees will know what they want from their career but require career guidance and support to achieve their goals.
  • A lack of visibility around what internal opportunities are available. Employees need to see what roles are available that align with their skillset and goals.
  • Adopting a push-only strategy when providing employees access to mobility solutions. A human-centred, push and pull strategy that combines targeted, personalized recommendations with technology-based mobility solutions is best.
  • Having no toolkit to guide an employee in how to apply for or land a new role within the organization. How do I skill up for this role in time? How do I tailor my CV for this role in a separate department? Employees need support to apply and succeed.


Pitfalls: the manager


This persona’s goal is to engage and retain employees. However, for mobility to be successful, the manager’s goal must be to enable mobility. This will fail if they are not:




Managers experience burnout and require support in their role if they are to support other employees. Managers cannot be everything to everyone all the time.




Managers are not professional careers coaches. They need guidance and support to successfully champion the role of ‘mobility steward’. For example, if they do not have a clear, actionable framework to work to, how can they manage career conversations?




A manager’s incentives are not typically aligned with those of a mobility steward. A manager is typically tasked with completing projects on time and supporting employee engagement and retention. These incentives contradict the need to encourage employees to upskill/reskill and move around the organization. Managers must be incentivized to lead on mobility.


Pitfalls: the recruiter


This persona’s goal is to reduce turnover, recruitment and onboarding costs. Recruiters acquire skills and talent for the organization, but problems can occur when:


  • There is an external-first mindset to hiring. For mobility to succeed, recruiters must adopt an internal-first strategy.
  • There are structural barriers to recruiting talent or sourcing skills internally. If the focus so far has been on external recruitment, the hiring process will be structured to enable this. The challenge is to shift towards an internal-first mindset before adapting the recruitment process.
  • Recruiters need to match skillsets and goals to roles available internally. If internal-first recruitment is a new strategy, recruiters may lack the tools and skills necessary to pair internal candidates with specific roles based on skills match and career goal suitability. Algorithmic platforms will be required to streamline the hiring process and free up time for other tasks.