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Why Learning and Talent Mobility Are Key in Today’s Workplace


By Julie Jares

A decade ago, few of us worked with a director of employee experience, a director of organisational learning and development, or a vice president of global impact and employee life. These roles were few and far between, which is just one simple example of how our workplaces are changing.

The “2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends” report surveyed nearly 10,000 respondents in 119 countries to get more insight into workplace changes and how we’re reconsidering our approach to jobs; new recruiting, hiring, and retention practices; and the adoption of technology in the workplace. The report identified 10 trends for companies to focus on for meaningful impact. In this post, I’ll explore two trends relating to learning and talent mobility that have particular resonance for human resources leaders.

Learning in the flow of life

The No 1 reason people quit their jobs is the “inability to learn and grow”, according to respondents of the Deloitte report. It follows, then, that the No 1 trend in 2019 is for organisations to change the way people learn, with 86 per cent of respondents rating this issue important or very important.

Jaime Fall, director of The Aspen Institute’s UpSkill America, confirms that “lots of surveys show that if millennials and Gen Z workers don’t feel their employers are investing in their education, training, or development, they’re not going to stay.”

There’s another business reason to support prioritising continuous learning. As Workday Chief People Officer Ashley Goldsmith says, “Advances in technology will continue to change the way we view talent and organise our workforces. In the face of this, it will be HR’s responsibility to provide the leadership necessary to ensure workers have the new skills required for our organisations to remain agile, efficient and prepared for whatever disruptions the future brings.”

Building up the right skills is critical. In fact, Deloitte cites a recent World Economic Forum report that found 54 per cent of all employees “will require significant reskilling and upskilling in just three years.” So how are HR leaders addressing these challenges? Deloitte’s survey revealed the following:

  • Eighty-four per cent of organisations surveyed are increasing their investment in reskilling programmes, with 53 per cent saying that they would increase this budget by 6 per cent or more.
  • Seventy-seven per cent of organisations surveyed are increasing their learning team’s headcount, elevating learning to the second-fastest-growing role in HR.

Organisations that invest in an always-learning, agile workforce will be more prepared to adapt to change and achieve their growth objectives, yet companies can do more than they’re currently doing. Other research bears out the importance of upskilling. Our global study, “Organizational Agility at Scale: The Key to Driving Digital Growth”, found that leading organisations – in terms of digital revenue growth and five identified attributes of organisational agility – are four times more likely than their less agile peers to plan to upskill more than 75 per cent of their workforce.

Smart leaders understand that these numbers are important. Feon Ang, vice president for talent and learning solutions, Asia Pacific, LinkedIn, noted in a MarketWatch article that organisations must embrace a culture of learning to remain resilient in a rapidly changing workforce.

Talent mobility: Look within to win

The race for top talent has always been top of mind for HR leaders, but the methods for finding and retaining that talent have shifted. Sometimes, the best candidates are already working at your company, and the Deloitte report highlights that organisations must embrace internal mobility as a “natural, normal progression”.

In fact, supporting the internal mobility of talent is good for employees and employers alike. It enables employees to continue to feel challenged and engaged with their work, acquire new skills, help fill organisational skills gaps, and make progress towards broader career goals. Additional drivers for internal mobility include expansion of operations, including globalisation, and the shift of many organisations towards flatter organisational models. As a result, there’s a need to put employees in different roles, on different projects, or in different locations.


The No 1 reason people quit their jobs is the “inability to learn and grow”, according to the Deloitte report.


Companies have strong business reasons to make internal talent mobility a priority. When Deloitte looked at the fastest-growing organisations, defined as those growing at 10 per cent or more compared to the previous year, “they were twice as likely to have excellent talent mobility programmes than organisations that were not growing at all, and more than three times more likely than organisations whose revenues were shrinking.”

And yet more than 50 per cent of this year’s survey respondents told Deloitte that it “was easier for employees to find a job outside their organisation than inside.” While the report found that internal mobility is a high priority, it’s difficult to do well. Only 6 per cent of respondents described themselves as “excellent” at moving internal talent from role to role; 59 per cent rate themselves fair or inadequate.

The research turned up a number of reasons that organisations find it so challenging:

  • Organisations don’t have the processes in place to identify internal candidates.
  • Organisational silos pose a challenge for both managers and employees to look beyond their own groups and find the right roles and the right candidates.
  • The necessary technology and systems are not in place to promote internal mobility.
  • Incentives typically don’t exist for internal hiring, and the workplace culture does not promote talent sharing.

Investing in internal mobility can help employers find solutions to their talent needs, create more growth opportunities for employees, and develop future leaders. Cristina Goldt, vice president, HCM products, Workday, explains that one way to do that is for organisations to get comfortable with using a talent marketplace model to mobilise existing employees and promote internal mobility.

“Looking within,” according to the report, “can make the crucial difference between struggling and succeeding.”

Are you ready for the new world of work?

Work is changing in ways that are completely unprecedented. In order to succeed and thrive in the new world of work, organisations must avoid the comfort of complacency. If companies are willing to challenge the old ways of doing things, embrace the changes that accompany technological innovation, and put employee development and engagement at the centre of their business, together, they will create a better future of work.

For more insights about the trends highlighted here, and to learn about other trends from Deloitte’s research, read our white paper, “Strategies for Your Future-Forward Workforce”.