Address internal inequities to retain talent, say Gartner

From connecting candidates with exploration opportunities to using tech to democratise job openings – here’s how Gartner say firms can retain top talent

How do you avoid losing your top talent to the ‘Great Resignation’? It’s a question being asked across organisations worldwide, as an ever-increasing number of employees quit their jobs.

More than 4.5 million people in the US voluntarily left their positions in November 2021, marking an all-time high, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics. This follows a previous all-time high in September, two months earlier.

And according to a Gartner survey conducted in June 2021, just one-third of candidates who sought out a new job in the past 12 months searched internally first. 

“In today’s increasingly competitive job market, employers face added pressure to retain employees,” says Jamie Kohn, research director in the Gartner HR practice. “However, many employees are looking outside their current organisations for their next move – rather than exploring internal opportunities, because they see unfairness in the internal hiring process.

“In today’s environment where employers cannot buy the talent they need, they must ensure their ability to retain employees.” 

So, how can HR leaders ensure they are holding on to the best talent? 

Use technology to democratise internal job openings and pathways

The research Gartner’s June survey shows only 51% of candidates report that they are aware of internal job openings available at their organisation. 

The solution Rather than relying on employee networks to spread awareness of job openings, which perpetuates inequity by limiting equal access, organisations can leverage technology to create awareness for all. Here’s how…

  1. Ease exploration of roles and careers – use technology to help employees understand the potential career paths available and what those look like beyond those just closely related to their current role.
  2. Enable employees to share their preferences – use technology to allow employees to signal which jobs they are interested in, even if there are no openings, as this helps HR determine the level of interest for a specific role and assess the quality of the internal pipeline
  3. Alert with tailored notifications – engage employees with notifications for new internal opportunities and tailor these notifications by skills and/or interests

Open access to job opportunities

The research Gartner research shows the top barrier preventing candidates from pursuing a job opening internally is a pre-identified favoured candidate. 

The solution HR leaders must create equal access by connecting candidates with exploration opportunities that align with their interests. Gartner recommends providing each employee with one-on-one professional coaching that includes exploration of career opportunities. 

It’s an approach, says Kohn, that allows employees to uncover their interests, passions and motivations outside of their current job. “By broadening these conversations, career coaches can connect employees with opportunities, either temporary or permanent, that match up best with their aspirations.”

Encourage support for mobility

The research Just 17% of candidates say their manager facilities the process of applying for internal jobs, and only one in five employees (20%) feel supported by their peers and team. 

The solution HR leaders should equip managers to share knowledge about internal opportunities with their teams. Once managers understand the potential career paths for each role, they can advise their direct reports on how their skills may transfer to a new role and what they need to do to be considered. 

Organisations should consider allowing employees to bypass their managers in applying for new roles. For example, say Gartner, HR leaders can shift manager notifications to after candidates apply or before interviewing. This protects employees from uncomfortable conversations before they know if they are a strong candidate for the role. 

Read Gartner’s report on how to make the internal labour market more equitable


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