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Internal Transfer Policy

We’ve all been part of a company where there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to how or why employees got promoted or transferred to other teams. We crave that clarification. Creating a policy that is public to your employees fosters greater trust and transparency among your team. This article will cover the ins and outs of internal transfer policies and how to create one at your company.

What Is an Internal Employee Transfer Policy?

In short, an internal employee transfer policy provides guidance to your employees about the basics of transferring within the company. It provides the guiding principles of how your organization views and handles internal transfers and promotions. There is a lot that goes into a strong employee transfer policy and it can enhance or detract from the overall employee experience, depending on how it is messaged.

Hiring Internally Versus Externally

Most managers want to keep their high performers. Most CEOs don’t want to lose their top employees to their competitors. Think back to the last time that you were able to take on a new role within your organization or were promoted. How did that make you feel? It makes us feel needed and valued for our past contributions.

As you take the high performers on your team and move them into new roles, you are giving them a new opportunity to shine and build a strong well-rounded team. One advantage to hiring internally is the simple fact that these employees know your business, they know your clients and they know your culture. Hiring externally, while correct in certain situations, will limit your ability to bring someone in with that knowledge and background.

Should Our Company Do Transfers?

In general, yes. There is a time and place for an outside hire, but more often than not you have strong employees who are ready and able to step into a new and updated role. There is a time and place for all things, but the overall employee experience is greatly enhanced when your team members know what they need to do to be promoted or transferred to a new role.

Why Having a Transfer Policy Is Important

You want to ensure that your employees feel valued and that they feel their contributions are worthwhile. Having an outlined transfer policy is just one of the ways to create those feelings.

  • Transparency. Employees love when their employers are transparent with them regarding their employment. Employees want to know the milestones that they need to hit to be promoted or eligible to transfer to a new team.
  • Employee Experience. Transparency from upper management generally creates a stronger employee experience which, in turn, leads to more engaged employees.
  • Guidance. Having a transfer policy provides guidance to employees and managers about when and if an employee is eligible to transfer. This goes hand in hand with creating a transparent organization. By having a policy in place, managers and employees will be able to find the information for themselves and know whether or not they are eligible for a transfer.

What to Include in Your Transfer Policy

There are specific items that should be included in your internal transfer policy. You may feel the need to add or take away items to fit your business needs.

Current Time in Position

If your team feels that you need to ensure that people are staying in a position for a set period of time after a transfer, you will want to include that timeframe and expectation in your policy. An example of this would be, “An employee must be in their current position for a minimum of 6 months before applying to transfer to a new position.”

Targets That Must Be Hit

Many teams list specific performance targets that need to be hit in order to be eligible for an internal transfer. This would include things like past performance reviews, meeting a quota and overall quality of work. An example of this would be, “In order to be eligible for transfer, an employee must have met satisfactory marks on their last performance review.”

Anything That Would Prohibit an Internal Transfer

If your organization is considering implementing an internal transfer policy, you’ve most likely had the discussion of things that would make an employee not eligible for transfer. It’s important to include these things in your internal policy as well to avoid any gray area. A specific example of this would be, “If an employee has any current disciplinary action against them (verbal warning, write-up, etc.) they will not be eligible for transfer.”

Anything Else That Your Company Sees Fit To Include

Many companies have other specific requirements that the employee seeking transfer must meet. These can include matters such as letting your current supervisor know before seeking or applying for an internal position, ensuring that the departments are working together to come up with a transition date and that there won’t be any adverse impact to the business.

How To Implement Your Internal Transfer Policy

When rolling out any policy, communication is key. You want to ensure that your employees understand the reason behind the new policy as well as how it benefits them and the company.

Step 1: Have Your Policy in Writing

You want to ensure that your policy is written down before communicating to your employees. Ensure that you have run it past multiple people and teams to make sure that it makes sense and is clear enough that anyone in the company can understand it.

Step 2: Develop the Message

You want to ensure that the internal message you send out is consistent with your overall brand and image. If the message doesn’t sound like your company, you may need to rethink the strategy to guarantee that employees fully understand and buy into the new policy.

Step 3: Create an FAQ To Go Along With the Message

Without a doubt there will be questions any time you roll out a new policy. Try to think beforehand what some of those questions may be and include them with your communication.

Step 4: Communicate to Your Employees

You will want to roll out this policy at a time where it makes sense. Does your company have an all-hands meeting or some other time where the company gets together? What about an internal communication tool such as an intranet? Roll out the policy using these platforms to guarantee that it reaches your entire company. Don’t forget to include the policy in your handbook as well!

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Internal Transfer Policies

What makes an employee eligible for a transfer?
Any requirements that the company sets. Some companies set minimum targets that must be met while other companies just want employees in a seat for a certain amount of time. The choice is entirely yours.
Can an employee refuse a transfer?
The answer to this question is complicated. States have different laws and even certain cities have different employment laws. Check with your local department of labor for the most up-to-date information on this topic.
Nick Staley

Nick Staley

Nick is a certified HR professional holding an SPHR from HRCI. He is passionate about the employee experience and creating some of the top workplaces in Utah. He has built HR departments from the ground up as well as working for large companies. When not working, Nick enjoys spending time with his wife and three kids and flying airplanes.

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