How Internal Mobility Creates a Strong Employer Value Proposition

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

The global pandemic has changed the hiring landscape. Candidates are looking for more flexibility, better work-life balance, and are increasingly centering on things other than their career goals and salary expectations.

Most importantly, a recent poll by CNBC shows that over 50% of respondents want to make a career change in the wake of COVID-19.

So, how do you attract and retain good people when so much is in flux? For Kristin McMillen, VP of Employer Brand Marketing at Citizens, it’s about committing to the career and personal goals of both candidates and current employees, even if that means they eventually move on to something outside the organization.

The Factors Behind the Great Resignation

There are two main driving factors for why so many people are reexamining what they want out of their careers and how they can achieve it. First, working from home became much more common during COVID-19, jumping from 6% pre-pandemic to over a third of the employed in May, 2020, according to a white paper by NCCI.

For many, being forced into remote work proved that not only was it possible to remain productive working from home, but there were several ways in which remote work was preferable to a traditional office 9-to-5. Candidates have gained new expectations for flexibility, both in terms of where they work and when they’re on the clock.

The other factor is the needs of working parents, especially considering the challenges of safely reopening schools (in Chicago, Philadelphia, and California, for example) and how difficult it can be to secure consistent childcare. The CNBC poll cited earlier found that working parents were nearly twice as likely to consider quitting as non-parents. In short, work-life balance has become a central concern for job seekers.

How Citizens Invests in Their People

For McMillen and her team at Citizens, the key to retention and talent attraction lies in demonstrating a strong commitment to the personal and professional development of their people. “If [our talent] leaves,” she says, “we want to equip them with the skills and experiences that will help them be successful in their next role,” whether that’s inside the company or, eventually, somewhere else.

The entire Citizens organization is designed with internal mobility in mind: you can start as a teller in a branch and go wherever your talents and interests take you. For McMillen, what started as her first job out of college became a 16-year career. Her team offers “office hours”— free, 30-minute sessions with their recruiters where current employees can come discuss their career goals. They also organize “discovering new careers” sessions for colleagues to meet with hiring managers and people currently in specific roles to talk about what it’s like, ask questions, and receive specific resources for growth.

Focusing on the Employee

When asked about how Citizens both attracts new candidates and retains current employees, McMillen points to their employer value proposition: “we’re ready to help you thrive.” For her and her team, it’s not just about professional growth, it’s about what they can do for your whole self.

For example, benefits aren’t limited to the standard medical, dental, and retirement. Citizens offers stress reduction programs, free counseling sessions for both employees and their families, and even financial wellness programs to help them achieve their goals by walking them through things like refinancing their student loan debt. For parents, they offer five free days of child care with less than 24 hours’ notice, on top of their paid time off benefits and broader commitment to flexibility.

These programs have a big impact on Citizens’ employees and when they talk about it, those stories lead to great impressions and engagement from job seekers. It demonstrates the organization’s commitment to live by its values, and illustrates how Citizens has been able to consistently find great candidates in a challenging hiring environment.

To follow Kristin McMillen’s work in employer branding at Citizens, follow her on LinkedIn. If you’re in search of help refining your employer value proposition and identifying the values and culture you want to create in your company, let’s talk.


Our newsletter is exclusively curated by our CEO, Jörgen Sundberg, for leaders who make decisions about talent. Subscribe for updates on The Employer Branding Podcast, new articles, eBooks, research and events we’re working on.


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