Founder of talent mobility management company Topia, Brynne Kennedy believes that to thrive in the future, our companies, workers and economy must understand the definition of talent mobility and become Flat, Fluid and Fast (F3).
Amidst the forces of globalization, demographic change and automation, we are seeing a fundamental shift in the way we work. Employers who embrace workforce mobility to drive engagement, accelerate innovation and unleash growth have a competitive advantage. F3 Companies transform their traditional HR functions to unlock work from everywhere. They break down departmental silos that can inhibit business and workforce agility. This transformation starts with knowing what talent mobility means in today’s economy.
- Geographic movement: Employees today move geographically more than ever. But these
moves are not only the traditional relocations and assignments of yesteryear (In
fact, these types of relocations are declining in the US). Today’s work-related
moves involve many different configurations–from commuting to short-term
projects to frequent travel. Workers today move for an ever-greater set of
reasons and depend on frictionless geographic mobility for training programs,
career progression, continued engagement, lifestyle, fulfillment, salary,
family needs and much more. Increasingly, this geographic movement doesn’t only
come from companies asking for employees to move to fulfill a business need,
but from employees raising their hands to fulfill their own career ambitions.
- Job movement: Underlying all of this geographic movement is a stark increase in employees moving between jobs. Much of today’s workforce watched the promise of a job for-life erode for their parents amid the 2008 recession. This recession threw away the long-held social contract where workers traded autonomy and flexibility for the stability and benefits that came from a traditional job. Today’s generation of workers are realistic about disruptions that may occur to their jobs. They want to build a toolkit of skills that they can leverage across different opportunities throughout their career. Many workers now look at their careers as a series of different job segments, or tours of duty, a phrase coined by LinkedIn Co-Founder, Reid Hoffman, with Chris Yeh and Ben Casnocha in their 2014 book, The Alliance. Employees today expect to have many career segments rather than a ‘job-for-life’.
- Location movement: In addition to growing geographic and job movement, work today has
a growing amount of flexible and remote (or distributed) work. Companies that
are eager to promote business agility, support the work-life balance needs of employees,
and create jobs outside of major metros often embrace flexible work
arrangements. Many companies, however, don’t yet define or manage location
movement in a cohesive manner. Too often, location movement emerges as a series
of one-off allowances managed haphazardly across the different business areas.
With growth in distributed work comes the need to manage employee collaboration
and compliance, plus new opportunities to hire from a larger talent pool – from
urban, rural or suburban locations. Location movement must be a deliberate part
of your talent mobility strategy.
- Employment movement: The rise of the freelance workforce, reflects another key aspect of our talent mobility definition: employment movement. Companies today increasingly have a workforce that includes both traditional full-time employees (FTEs) and freelance workers who contribute their skills on-demand for a particular job, project or team. Many companies have historically used contractors (1099 workers, in the United States) for specific fixed-term work, but today staffing models are evolving to include dynamic skills matching with teams regularly made up of FTEs and freelancers. Similarly, more workers experience their careers through both full-time work and freelance opportunities. An modern talent mobility strategy should look to this diverse workforce as one workforce, and develop benefits and systems to support all of them.
Defining talent mobility is the first step to succeeding amid the Talent Mobility Revolution. But the vast majority of companies haven’t even done this first step. Any business leader who wants to succeed in a changing economy must become an expert at talent mobility – how to define it, support their workers and leverage it for strategic advantage.