Career mobility

This article covers career mobility and will help you understand its importance and how to implement the best practices to create programs within your company.

Career mobility can enable your organization to retain valuable employees and reduce resources invested in replacing employees who leave due to a lack of career mobility.


What is career mobility?

Career mobility is the process of an employee moving in their career, whether to another position or occupation, or gaining different responsibilities within their current role.

Career mobility is also known as job mobility and can refer to upward or downward movement, as well as movement within the same company or another company within the same corporation or brand.

Benefits for organization and employees

Career mobility isn’t only beneficial to employees, although that may be a common misconception. In fact, it also benefits organizations that create practices to enable career mobility for their employees.

While employees often change employers in the hope of a pay increase, organizations have to invest a lot of resources in recruiting and hiring new employees.

In fact, it can cost a business around 20% of the previous employee’s annual salary simply to hire a replacement employee. In turn, employees can often earn 10% to 20% more annually by accepting a role as a new hire in a different company.

However, there are plenty of reasons for employees to stay at the same company if they’re given a chance at career mobility. They can even transition to roles that offer comparable or better compensation than a new position at a different company.

Here are lists of benefits for both organizations and employees:

Benefits for organizations:

  • Reduce employee turnover rate while doubling employee retention rate
  • Save time, money, and resources required to hire new employees
  • Significantly boost employee engagement
  • Increase employee adaptability
  • Find new solutions by having employees with multiple specialties

Benefits for employees:

  • Maintain their job at the same company
  • Continue receiving company benefits (insurance, annual bonuses, etc.)
  • Receive pay increases relative to new roles
  • Increase value within the company
  • Find greater satisfaction in new, more rewarding roles
  • Add valuable skills and responsibilities to their resume

Examples of career mobility and benefits

To really appreciate the value of career mobility for both organizations and employees, it may be helpful to look at a few examples to see how it works in the real world.

Example 1

Brian has been working at the same software company for nearly a decade as a software engineer. Through his time at the company, he’s learned a lot about how his department and the company as a whole work.

While he enjoys his work, he always seems to be assigned the same type of projects, which becomes tiresome. His wages have been fairly consistent throughout the years, but he aspires to earn more than what his regular annual raise provides. He’s considering applying for a position outside his company, which might provide more compensation.

However, his company has recently started promoting employees from within, giving him the chance to move into a management position. Not only does his new position as a manager give him a more comprehensive range of benefits and higher compensation, but it also gives him the personal satisfaction of taking on more responsibility within the same company.

Example 2

John has been working at the same marketing agency for ten years. Although he has been promoted over the years and has worked his way from a marketing assistant to a country manager, he dreams about taking his career in a different direction. He becomes exhausted by the stress, strict rules, and bureaucracy and loses interest over time in his job. John is an artist and enjoys creating art in his free time, so he has thought about moving into a career as a graphic designer to work in an area that focuses on his passion.

John starts taking graphic designing classes in the evenings after work, and eventually, he graduates with a degree. After looking for a new job to fulfill his dream, he discovered that the agency was looking for one more designer for a new project. He applied and successfully passed all trials.

This opportunity will create the space for him to explore his creative side and give him more flexibility with a work-life balance. By making this move in his career, John is excited about his future and can find greater satisfaction with his new role.

At the same time, the company saved valuable employee and institutional knowledge. They have time to pass all tasks to another manager and onboard John in a new project and his new role.

Example 3

Jennifer has been working as a customer assistant within the same company for a couple of years and has an excellent record within the company. Her annual evaluations are always exceedingly positive, and she shows a great amount of responsibility and initiative in any task assigned to her, whether big or small. While she always shows the same level of dedication to her work, she is also feeling stuck in her position as the work has become monotonous.

Management within the company recognizes her skill and dedication and realized she has outgrown her current role so they find a solution that also allows Jennifer career mobility and the potential to take on extra responsibility with a different position. They train Jennifer in technical support, which will enable her to gain the skills and responsibilities of another role within the company, albeit at a similar level as her other role of customer assistant. Allowing her lateral mobility will enable her to gain valuable skills that will benefit her progress when opportunities for upward career mobility arise.