Global Head of Employee Mobility & Redeployment LHH
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The business case for rethinking redeployment

Times are tough for businesses right now but instead of reducing headcount with redundancy, could redeployment help save money and ensure your organisation has the skills it needs to survive? JC Townend, CEO UK & Ireland and Izabella Khazagerova, EMEA Global Solutions Team Leader of LHH explore...

15th Sep 2020
Global Head of Employee Mobility & Redeployment LHH
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Covid-19 continues to disrupt the workforce on a previously unimagined scale. The effects of the pandemic have been challenging to organisations of all sizes and across most sectors. With a large number of companies facing downsizing or restructuring, the impacts on the job market will be felt for years to come.

Now is the time to consider whether your existing employees can be reskilled to take on the jobs you need for the future. 

In a recent government bid to stave off further rises in unemployment, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced that businesses will receive a £1,000 bonus for every furloughed employee they bring back to work and keep employed until at least January. The bonus is designed to prevent organisations from making mass redundancies when the furlough scheme comes to an end in October, effectively ‘flattening the peak’ of unemployment just as government health ministers have sought to ‘flatten the peak’ of Covid-19 cases.

While some have questioned whether £1,000 is enough to make companies significantly change their redundancy plans, it does provide another incentive for companies to be more creative about retaining key talent. Companies may find that while there are roles that no longer fit into their long-term strategies, there may be new roles that will be pivotal for future success. The question is, can those same workers be reskilled and redeployed to fit the needs of the future?

The benefits of redeployment

Redeployment is simply the act of moving an employee to a different role or department. It is a vital strategy for businesses as it doesn’t just serve as an alternative to redundancy, but can also improve talent retention, brand reputation and overall productivity and performance of a business.

This is echoed by recent research conducted among HR decision makers, with the top three benefits of redeployment identified as:

  1. Keeping talent within the business
  2. Being seen as a responsible employer
  3. Maintaining a positive company culture

Over a third of HRDs who have experienced working for an organisation that offered redeployment said that these benefits had already been proven to them. For organisations that now have to make big changes to their services and structure in the wake of the pandemic, now is the time to consider whether your existing employees can be reskilled to take on the jobs you need for the future. Companies currently have a unique opportunity because some of this reskilling can begin immediately, while they are still on furlough.

From replaceable to renewable workforce    

Even before the pandemic, organisations put redeployment programmes in place with a view to supporting employees whose jobs were at risk in finding new roles in the company, with reskilling if necessary. In some cases, this has been highly successful, but in many cases the redeployment programmes were not run well enough to effectively identify and move talent into suitable roles. There wasn’t enough time for training or reskilling, and with only small numbers of successful redeployees it was difficult to show a return on investment (ROI). Nearly half of HR representatives said they felt that the ROI of redeployment was hard to measure.

Now, however, companies have time. This is a great opportunity to create strategic continuous employability programmes, not just for the immediate furloughed employees, but as part of the future legacy of the company – shifting from a mindset of a replaceable workforce to a renewable one. This means enabling all employees to thrive in the ever-changing dynamic between talent supply – their own current skills, and talent demand – the skills they will need in the future.

Rethinking ROI

The most successful companies using redeployment already have a very measureable ROI – the reduction of severance, recruiting, and onboarding costs. Proactive companies are also starting to talk about a new ROI measure: the return on individuals. How much are you getting from each of your employees?

By focusing on the individual and providing appropriate growth opportunities, companies can expand their return on every individual and dramatically increase company performance. This return comes both from greater discretionary effort (more engaged, motivated employees) and higher productivity (employees who are better skilled at the jobs they are doing).

What’s next?

Forward-thinking companies will choose to invest in their existing talent and identify those that are ready for new challenges and to learn new skills to meet new demands. If your business has to make a shift, now is the time to consider who within your organisation has the potential to rise to this challenge and meet these new demands.

There’s no denying that many businesses are under pressure to survive right now. Rethinking redeployment strategies, however, can go a long way to helping organisations improve several key areas of their business including talent retention, brand reputation and create a more positive and motivated workforce.

Interested in this topic? Read The new off-boarding pathway: supporting departing staff in startup success.

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