The Importance of Upward Mobility Programs for Employee Recruitment and Retention

Upward mobility is the ability for employees to enter at one level and ‘climb the corporate ladder’ of jobs with progressively more responsibility within an organization. It is the role of Human Resources to ensure that employees are engaged, motivated and see a future with the organization rather than leaving to advance their careers.


According to a LinkedIn Workforce Learning Report in 2019, 94 percent of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. The 2021 Workplace Learning Report, LinkedIn’s Fifth Annual Report, Skill Building in the New World of Work, provides some key takeaways for Human Resource professionals and CEOs. Primarily, the report shows that respondents believe that investing in their workforce is critical to building resilience and digital fluency for their company, and to attract, engage and retain top talent. Those two characteristics/skills – resilience and digital fluency - were cited as the number one and number two most important across the globe.

Another takeaway from the report shows that Gen Z (Gen Z was born between 1997 and 2012) focuses on learning and career growth. In fact, 76 percent believe that learning is the path to a successful career. While a recent study conducted by The Ladders, a leading professional career site, says Millennials (Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996) also place career advancement extremely high among their priorities and they are the only age group to say career growth is more important than the starting salary when accepting a job offer. Generation X (Generation X was born between 1965 and 1980) also seeks growth opportunities that are accompanied by training and development. They also join the Baby Boomers (Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964) in wanting to mentor others while continuing to deepen their own professional knowledge base through learning opportunities.

The majority of companies surveyed (51 percent) make internal mobility a priority, more now than prior to the COVID19 pandemic. Employee engagement and retention are the reasons behind the effort. Studies show that employees who move into new jobs within their current company are three times more engaged. Studies also show that organizations with internal mobility opportunities have employees who stay nearly twice as long with the company.

Working to generate position descriptions, recruitment ads and postings that convey your organization as champions of professional development is paramount to attracting good candidates. In 2021, the small and medium-sized companies, at 64 percent and 62 percent respectively, say they are planning to ‘upskill’ and ‘reskill’ their employee base.

Fifty-six percent of large companies are adding it as a part of an ongoing effort to attract and retain employees.

How do you accomplish that as a recruiter or employer? One way to show upward mobility opportunities for both internal and external candidates is by creating career paths with course recommendations and skills needed for advancement. HR can work closely with the organization’s executive team and managers to align development programs to meet organizational goals and growth trajectory. Regardless of the size of your organization, HR should demonstrate to candidates and employees that your organization seeks to offer continued skill development, education opportunities, and professional development.

How do you leverage upward mobility programs? When trying to attract the best and brightest during your recruitment efforts, internal promotion and mobility should be a topic that is proactively addressed in both the organizational structure and its practices. Cross-training, staff rotations, mentoring, and leadership development programs all play important roles in providing a culture of opportunity. Information about career development should be included in the career section of your website, on recruitment collateral and benefit materials as well as be a part of the interview process.

Human Resource professionals, now more than ever, need tools to improve and enhance their recruiting and hiring efforts. Employing a recruitment software solution, such as LightWork® Recruit and Onboarding, can increase your success in the marketplace. It is a powerful and flexible applicant tracking and recruiting software with quick and easy set-up and implementation. LightWork Recruit allows HR to post openings to job boards and social media and track applicants through the interview process. It works to improve your online reputation and streamline procedures. Once an applicant is selected for hire, LightWork’s module assists with the administration and compliance concerns of onboarding a new employee. It also covers tax credit processing. Attracting and hiring top-level talent has never been easier or more efficient than with LightWork Recruit and Onboarding. To learn more about the value of a centralized recruit system, click here.

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