Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, recently disrupted the HR space, saying companies should focus on ‘people movement’ as part of retention. He referred to this as the, ‘oxygen pulsing through a business.’ And he aims to have 20% of Hootsuite staff switch jobs annually via internal promotions.
Virgin Pulse caught up with Ryan to define people movement, and discuss whether it should be a focus for more businesses going forward.
Q: People movement is quite a disruptive concept. How did Hootsuite arrive at this point?
A: Because we’re committed to the development of our employees and their career goals. Over 80% of our organisation is Millennials, and we know they value both career progression, learning and skill development. The people movement program ensures that we’re ticking both these boxes.
In traditional organisations, internal mobility is considerably lower. But after looking at our employee engagement surveys and interviews, we saw that team members truly put a premium on learning and growth. In the end, too much employee mobility can be destabilising and too little can hurt morale. Based on our employee data, 20% people movement is the sweet spot.
Q: How exactly does Hootsuite plan to hit the 20% target?
A: This is a goal we set that embraces lateral movements, promotions, international transfers and our stretch program. The stretch program is really a key piece: It enables select employees to spend one day a week working with a team in a different part of the company. If the role proves a fit, and everyone involved approves, the transition can be made full-time. All managers involved need to approve any stretch assignments and the employee needs to be performing at a high level.
Q: Is employee retention still relevant as a metric of business success?
A: As a company that’s committed to the development of our employees and their career goals, employee retention absolutely remains relevant. Longstanding employees have more in-depth knowledge of our products and business. The powerful thing about encouraging people movement, though, is that it actually supports retention in the long-run.
Actively enabling internal mobility provides employees with an opportunity to seek-out a new role within the company, rather than leave. Since the announcement of the change, we’ve already had an increased uptake in internal mobility and a decrease in turnover. It's only been a few months, but the data is already trending in the right direction.
Q: Does the concept apply to all industries, or is it more effective in tech/SaaS environments?
A: Due to the fast-paced nature of tech/SaaS, people movement is critical. But the benefits can extend to other industries, as well. Lateral movement is a powerful way to break down corporate silos and diffuse know-how. Plus, the reality that employees are continually on the move obliges a company to hire smarter and to train faster, maximising return in a shorter time span.
Q: Are employees who switch jobs frequently more likely to be Millennials or from another generation?
A: According to estimates, Millennials now expect to change their jobs every two-and-a-half years – double the rate of their Gen X predecessors. And 65% indicate that personal development is the most important factor on the job. Personally, I’ve found that regardless of age, smart prospects want to work at a company where they know they can learn and grow.
Ultimately, we value internal mobility as a principle regardless of age or other demographics. We see this as a way of operating our company and not necessarily as a means to ‘solve’ the Millennial question.
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