By Max Clarke

Nearly a quarter of HR decision makers expect to see an increase in voluntary churn in 2011, highlighting this as a major threat to business growth over the next year as firms struggle to retain staff.

According to Taleo Corporation’s (NASDAQ: TLEO) Talent Mobility in 2011 research, which surveyed 500 HR decision makers in large UK companies, increased churn was highlighted as a particular issue for business services, public sector and IT/technology companies. However, while HR decision makers identified this as a concern for 2011, the majority attributed retention problems to external factors, such as better salaries or opportunities elsewhere, as opposed to internal factors.

“As many organisations plan for growth in 2011 and confidence in the job market returns, employees who may have chosen to sit tight over the last few years are likely to begin exploring new opportunities, seeking new roles and new challenges,” said Alice Snell, Vice President, Research, Taleo. “However, introducing an effective talent mobility strategy, which allows companies to mobilise people internally in response to business needs can not only make great business sense, but can prove an excellent retention tool, offering employees internal opportunities to develop their career with their current employer.”

Overcoming the barriers to talent mobility — why ‘making do’ won’t do

The recent research highlighted that talent mobility is increasingly on the HR agenda for 2011, with 71% of respondents agreeing that it is important for companies to be able to proactively and strategically move people from role to role. However, the extent to which companies are currently moving people within their businesses effectively remains limited, with many citing a number of recurring barriers, which they believe are currently preventing them from achieving a truly mobile workforce.

The top three barriers to talent mobility were identified as:
· Lack of visibility into talent gaps and opportunities
· Lack of systems/technology to support talent mobility initiatives
· Quality and reliability of employee talent data

A low level of sophistication in terms of talent mobility technology emerged as a particular barrier for the majority of organisations, limiting the ability of HR professionals and senior management to identify where the opportunities and gaps within their organisation lie and matching these with existing, internal skill sets.

Overall, only one in ten of the companies surveyed were using dedicated talent management systems, with the use of dedicated systems proving higher in the construction/manufacturing and IT/technology (14%) sectors. The majority of companies reported they were still ‘making do’ with company intranets to facilitate internal mobility, and in 30% of cases, companies were still relying solely on email to facilitate internal mobility.

Alice Snell concluded: “The value of a talent mobility strategy is clearly recognised among the HR profession. However, it is currently being thwarted by a number of factors, most notably easily corrected system and data shortcomings.

“While the use of technology to support mobility is currently limited, evidence suggests that there are notable business benefits associated with a more sophisticated level of technology usage, from boosting the leadership pipeline to being better able to drive change and business growth. The companies that will be best placed to meet future challenges as we return to economic growth will be those that have the processes, systems and culture in place to support a truly holistic approach to talent mobility.”