Talent mobility was high on the agenda at this year’s Arbora Global Conference. Arbora Chairman, and Chiumento MD, Mike Burgneay shares his thoughts on why this should be high up your talent management agenda.

1. Organisations are facing rapid change

All businesses evolve over time. That means roles and structures change too. Talent mobility is in part about preparing people for those future changes. Establishing their capability and desire to move with the business. Understanding their development needs and addressing them ensures they are “mobility ready” when the time comes.

A major theme at this year’s Arbora Conference was how AI (Artificial Intelligence) will accelerate changes in workforce profile. Our guest speaker – Nathan Perrott – talked to us about how AI is impacting recruitment.  We saw demonstrations of how AI is being used to do everything from write job advertisements to managing candidate enquiries. Not to mention analysing CVs.  AI can also be abused by candidates to “cheat” on-line interviews. Supplying candidates with answers to interview questions in real time.

A recent BBC report suggests that 300 million jobs could be replaced by AI. The reality is many will need to be re-trained and re-deployed into new jobs that may not yet have been defined. The future organisation has to be more flexible than ever.

Career coaching has a big part to play in this process. Ensuring individuals expand their thinking, take ownership and navigate new career paths as they emerge.

2. Key staff retention is critical

Great people are hard, and expensive, to recruit. For those reasons alone you can’t afford to lose them.

One of the main reasons people leave organisations is the sense they can’t achieve their career goals with their current employer. A lack of obvious career paths, the sense of waiting on “dead person’s shoes” or simply a failure to engage in career discussions can trigger a resignation.

Around the world Arbora partner firms are working with clients to get those career conversations started. If you don’t engage with your brightest and best on career planning,  another employer, or a recruitment business, undoubtedly will.

3. Optimum deployment v convenience

There can be no question that line managers want to keep their best people. However keeping an individual in a specific role may not be in the best interests of the organisation as a whole. Over the years we’ve met managers who are hoarding talent. That’s not good for the organisation or the individuals.

An organisation committed to talent management will want to deploy people to roles where they can maximise their contribution. Encouraging mobility may be unpopular with those who just see the potential disruption it may bring in its wake. However it is necessary to drive business performance. Helping organisations break down barriers to mobility starts with engaging and motivating line management. Helping them understand their responsibility is to coach, develop, grow and then “let go”.

4. Economy, efficiency and effectiveness

Talent mobility saves money. That’s why internal hiring rate should be one of the key success measures of any talent management strategy.

Moving people internally is cheaper than hiring externally not least as you avoid the costs of advertising and potentially agency fees. That re-focuses hiring lower down the organisation where it is typically cheaper and easier.

Internal moves inevitably mean an individual hits the ground running. For example, they arrive knowing “how things are done around here”. In addition, they have an established relationship with the business, a network of contacts and understand core processes and systems.

Time and again research shows that internal hires are less risky too. You are appointing someone of proven capability and known behaviours and cultural fit. Things can still go wrong but the odds are more heavily stacked in your favour.

5. Enhancing your employer brand and aiding retention

Telling great stories about long term career prospects is key to a strong employer brand. Internal mobility creates real case studies that let you talk with authority.

It also means your people are less likely to feel the need to look outside for opportunity. If you like the organisation, feel valued and can see opportunity near at hand you are far less likely to look outside.

A great employer brand will, in turn, make you an employer of choice. That makes external hiring easier. Its a virtuous circle.


Talent mobility is an investment – one with a potentially very large payback. Arbora can demonstrate some great examples of how we’ve worked with clients to develop a more mobile and agile workforce.

If you’d like to chat, get in touch.