redeployment strategy

It's no surprise that organisations have sought ways to become more agile recently. And our own global research on skilling highlighted adaptability as one of the top four in-demand skills worldwide.

So if organisations and employees are both open to more mobility, why is redeployment often difficult or unsuccessful? Here's our expert guide to developing a redeployment strategy that works.

what is redeployment?

Redeployment is a workforce management strategy. It's where an employee moves from one job to another within the organisation. It's a great alternative to redundancies as it keeps people in a job and also saves time and cost compared to external recruitment. It can be used as a talent retention and engagement strategy too, giving employees the flexibility to move internally to fulfil their career goals; rather than having to leave. Redeployment can be temporary or permanent and may include a move to a new location - but could also mean moving roles within the same team.

why redeployment strategies falter

Apart from promotions, international assignments and secondments to develop new skills, internal moves are often viewed with some kind of stigma. People assume someone is being moved out because of a performance issue, personality clash or some other negative reason.

Redeployment is often prioritised in a restructure as a way to minimise redundancies and help those in career transition to find a new role internally. However, in this situation, the term 'redeployment pool' has connotations of people sitting around waiting for someone to rescue them.

For redeployment to be successful, the company culture has to value internal mobility. During the pandemic, many organisations have been redeploying people successfully simply because attitudes to internal moves changed. So the first thing to get right is to foster a company culture that sees a redeployment strategy as an integral part of resourcing and talent management that adds agility, flexibility and builds the employer brand.

how redeployment adds value

Talent scarcity still reigns supreme, and companies are continuing to invest more to attract top talent. In fact, most companies overweight their talent and performance efforts on the hiring end. At the same time, average company tenure is dropping. Average tenure is now 1.2 years, while average time to recoup the investment in new hires is 2.2 years.

In short, this is not a sustainable practice. That much is obvious.

The solution, according to Aberdeen, is to manage the full employee life cycle by using redeployment to bridge the gap between skills shortages externally and the desire to create more agile workforces by upskilling and reskilling internal resources. This is, in fact, precisely what best-in-class companies are doing in growing numbers. Aberdeen’s research results and suggestions are captured in the report, Redeployment Extends the Value of the Workforce.

redeployment and internal mobility

building a strategy for employer and employee

Best-in class companies have already begun to pursue a path toward developing a more fluid and resilient workforce. Lindsay Witcher, Vice President of Practice Strategy at RiseSmart observes, “Our customers are becoming more interested in fostering the mobility of their existing teams. These organisations are recognising they often have people who are in roles that are changing or who are underutilised, and they are investing in redeployment solutions to help ensure that they are creating mobility opportunities for their people.”

While top talent may have more opportunities than ever, the priorities employees weigh when staying with the firm compared to leaving for a new job are competitive opportunities for salary and career growth, the quality of employee and manager relationships and engagement, and access to defined roles within the firm. A clear redeployment strategy can enhance all of those factors.

top reasons employees join and stay with the organisation

The graph below shows the reasons why employees join and stay with a company. Best-in-class organisations are using a redeployment strategy to fill up to 40% of their vacancies. They're also finding they can reduce the time it takes to get redeployed employees up to full capacity in their new job by between 50-75% compared to an external hire. This largely comes from the reduced need for internal process training, which was found to account for about two-thirds of a new hire's first three to four weeks of onboarding.

top reasons employees join and stay

purposeful redeployment

The data reveals that employees seek upward mobility within their companies, want management to define key skills so that training and development map to real advancement opportunities, and want to feel their work is relevant and valued. Employees view management support for new ideas and innovation as a hedge against the risk they take in promoting new ideas.

“People thrive in an environment where they have safety, growth opportunities, and a commitment from their employer,” Lindsay says. “Companies need to redefine safety and resilience in their workforce, and combine that with a cultural shift that is clearly communicated and includes a robust internal mobility programme.”

a new direction: redeployment as a talent mobility strategy

Building out a skills development programme that aligns with a redeployment strategy provides a strong foundation for long-term career retention. According to Aberdeen, redeployment focuses on skills-based promotion by connecting performance data with position-based skill requirements to help managers understand which existing team members that may be able to fill open positions anywhere in the firm. Employment opportunities become uncoupled, leading to internal job mobility and career pathing on a company-wide scale, rather than just limited to a department or geography.

Redeployment comes in several flavours:

Internal mobility 

Promoting or moving existing employees into new roles from inside the organisation when filling positions or closing skills gaps.

Phased redeployment 

Starting from an employee’s current position, managers chart different paths to growth based on different skills development, while employees chart their own growth based on different defined phases within those paths.

Internal matrix 

Managers and HR leverage core improvements in the metric definition of top talent to drive performance-based retention. When top performers leave the organisation, HR retains anonymised performance data to continue building an organisational profile definition of top talent.

Purposeful redeployment 

As defined by RiseSmart, this approach involves developing a programme that prepares and connects internal employees impacted by change with open positions throughout the organisation. It includes transition coaching, interview preparation, internal networking, CV optimisation, assistance with finding the best-suited roles internally, and internal recruiter connections.

“Our research has uncovered a 14 percent increase year-on-year in companies offering redeployment programmes,” Lindsay says. “While 82 percent of companies we surveyed encourage employees to apply for open positions within the company, only 24 percent feel they are doing a good job of matching employees to open positions.”

Among the best-in-class companies, redeployment is often integrated with an L&D strategy and in partnership with the hiring team. As time goes on, 43 percent of these organisations shift entirely to a “hire internally first” model, while 23 percent actively recruit from both inside and outside the firm.

best-in-class redeployment programmes incorporate:

  • Individual skills as building blocks for role alignment
  • Integrated employee placement that combines existing and legacy workforce data into the talent acquisition system(s) to serve as a bridge between talent acquisition and performance management
  • Integration of performance data and emerging job descriptions in an L&D framework to configure learning tracks that enable open internal positions to be filled quickly
  • Redefinition of top talent within the context of the company’s existing performance indicators, enabling HR to design programmes that enable internal talent to grow and develop the potential to work in a spectrum of emerging roles
  • Adaptation of data insights to target coaching that facilitates redeployment
  • Regular assessments of internal talent to ensure alignment between an employee’s development goals and management’s goals
  • Services for employees impacted by change to help them redeploy, including job matching, coaching, and resume services

the payoffs of redeployment

Redeployment enables employers to engage employees in their current roles, and train and transition them into new roles—all the while keeping them as full-time employees and promoting company stability.

The benefits of redeployment have bottom-line impacts. For every one percent of investment in redeployment, the research shows organisations see a multiplier effect across several areas:

  • 84 percent more likely to realise increases in revenue per FTE year-on-year
  • 72 percent more likely to see increased internal retention and engagement
  • 52 percent more likely to realise reduced turnover
  • 20 percent more likely to see productivity increase year-on-year

HR professionals have a lot to consider given the seismic changes of the past year: organisational resiliency, the need to pivot and reskill, managing hybrid working, creating more flexibility, increasing DEI, along with ever increasing automation, digitalisation and specialisation. Redeployment programmes provide a path forward—and lessen the pressures HR faces—by balancing the cost of hiring with the return opportunity provided by retention.

02 June 2021

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