In economic terms, upward mobility is the rate that individuals can change their economic status or class. When there is a high rate of upward mobility, it is in general a sign of a healthy and free society.
In one particularly striking example of class mobility, George Taylor came to the United States as an indentured servant in 1736. He rose from indentured servitude to become a wealthy man and one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Within employment and Human Resources, upward mobility refers to the ability for employees to enter at one level and “climb a ladder” of jobs with progressively more responsibility. In general, the potential for mobility within an organization is a very strong factor in retention of employees. The opposite of mobility within an organization would be a company that never promotes from within; employees would always stay in their positions and never be given further responsibility. One example of a particularly healthy and mobile workforce is the McDonald’s corporation, which regularly hires senior management from within; to this day, many board members and senior executives started their tenure as hourly, line workers at local stores.
It is the duty of the HR department to ensure that employees are engaged, motivated, and see a bright future with the organization. Best practices in building corporate mobility include internal hiring, staff rotations, mentoring programs, succession planning, and training and leadership development programs. In addition, employees of diversity are often faced, by percentage, with less opportunities for advancement than other employees. Proactive employers often seek out employees of diversity and ensure that there are adequate opportunities for advancement within the corporate environment.