Companies across the globe are grappling with talent shortages due to the skills gap and scrambling to snatch the best and brightest from the workforce. Tempted by the prospect of landing a better gig, more and more employees are weighing their options — 85% of the workforce (up from 80% in 2012) is either actively looking for a job or open to talking to recruiters about relevant opportunities; even the ones who are “satisfied” with their jobs.

But in their hunt for great hires, companies are failing to retain their own high performers, which is costing them big. How much, what’s to blame and what’s the solution? We wanted to find out, so we surveyed 7,530 LinkedIn members across the US, Australia, Canada, India and the UK who recently changed jobs. We call it the Exit Survey. Here’s what we discovered:

retention and internal mobility

As you can see, the top reason employees say they’ll jump ship (better compensation/benefits) and the top reason they actually jumped ship (greater opportunities for advancement) differ. Perhaps it has created a misconception among employers that has prevented them from developing internal mobility (a.k.a. mobility and talent mobility) programs that advance their employees’ careers, and as a result, increased preventable turnover? Wrong.

According to our 2013 Global Recruiting Trends Survey of 3,379 HR and talent acquisition professionals in 19 countries, 70% of Canadian, 69% of American, 68% of Indian, 67% of British and 63% of Australian companies have a “well-defined internal mobility programs that most employees are aware of.” And for good reason: according to our Exit Survey, internal mobility is key to retention because for every 100 internal moves, American companies retain 38 employees who would have left, Australian companies retain 49 employees, Canadian companies retain 44 employees, Indian companies retain 43 employees and British companies retain 45 employees.

So what’s really to blame? According to our Exit Survey, HR and talent acquisition professionals overestimate employee awareness of their internal mobility programs by more than 2X:

Retention and Internal mobility stats

Plus, 69% of British and Indian, 68% of American and Canadian and 60% of Australian Exit Survey respondents said it was easier to find an open position outside rather than inside their previous company.

And if you think a larger percentage of the workforce being open to relevant external job opportunities is merely a fad, think again. According to Bersin by Deloitte VP of Talent Acquisition Research Robin Erickson, PhD, there is a typically a cyclical rise in voluntary turnover in the US after a downturn. That means the number of employees weighing their options in the US will likely increase.

With that in mind, here are three tips for increasing the awareness of your internal mobility programs among employees:

  • Phil Hendrickson, Starbucks’ manager of global talent sourcing strategy, says “People need to know that their career development and growth are valued as much as, if not more than, hiring external people. That’s because you solve three things at once when you hire someone internally — you fill a role, you retain a good employee and you improve your talent brand. So here’s a new idea: couple your internal mobility program to your in house referral program to boost its visibility. In house referral programs are popular and well known because of the incentives and recognition they offer employees, and because folks like working with people they know. For example, on your in house referral program site you could say, Interested in referring people you know to open positions ‘click here’. Interested in referring yourself to an exciting new role and grow your career ‘click here’ to help us find YOU.”
  • “Don’t underestimate the power of internal and external distribution channels — like newsletters, the company intranet, company all-hands meetings, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook — to publicize stories of employees who have moved around in the organization,” says Robin Erickson. “And don’t simply say John Doe moved from one team to another. Explain why he made the move, and how it benefits him and the company so employees clearly understand why they should care about the internal mobility programs.”
  • Brendan Browne, LinkedIn’s director of talent acquisition, says “Incorporate the internal mobility program into your new hire onboarding process. Employers can emphasize that the company’s commitment to advancing the employees’ career doesn’t end with their hires.”

To stay up to date with LinkedIn’s reports on internal mobility and retention, register here: lnkd.in/retention

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