Responsible Workforce Planning Through Redeployment and Career Development
Most of us were drawn to HR because we care deeply about people. We tend to be naturals at coaching, recognizing strengths and harnessing those strengths to benefit the company’s business goals. At the same time, we have a responsibility to the business to achieve operating performance objectives and manage expenses. This sometimes leads us to a dichotomy and the very difficult territory of layoffs. For years, HR leaders have told me how tough it is to manage these two responsibilities. Of course, through outplacement services, we know that a significant majority of people who are exited are able to find new opportunities and land on their feet. And like many of the HR leaders we talk to, you’re likely asking yourself, is there a better way? How do we get ahead of this? Are there alternatives?
There are options other than exiting employees. Redeployment and career development can help. More companies are turning to these workforce planning techniques to get ahead of employee redundancies and empower employees to explore new opportunities to contribute.
REDEPLOYMENT AND CAREER DEVELOPMENT IMPROVE THE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE
Career Development continues to top the list of perks employers plan to add. According to Aberdeen, 68 percent of best-in-class companies pursue a redeployment strategy to fill as much as 40 percent of their vacant roles. Moreover, corporate thinking is shifting to expand corporate responsibilities beyond “delivering shareholder value.”
A recent Business Roundtable statement redefines corporate responsibility, thus creating a new “modern standard.” For decades, companies have operated under the Milton Friedman definition of delivering shareholder value. The Business Roundtable’s decision widens that corporate purpose to delivering value to “investors, employees, communities, suppliers, and customers,” acknowledgement by 181 of the country’s top CEOs that corporate responsibility includes employer responsibility. “The American dream is alive, but fraying,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Chairman of Business Roundtable. “Major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term. These modernized principles reflect the business community’s unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy that serves all Americans.”
MOVING TOWARD A HOLISTIC TALENT MOBILITY SOLUTION
At RiseSmart, we see redeployment and career development as responsible components of a talent mobility solution. Outplacement services will always be needed, as there will always be employees exiting companies and a need for them to upskill, brand themselves, and network in order to find their next opportunities. Providing them similar tools while they’re still employed can help them do the same internally within the organization long before their skills or positions are determined to be redundant. This empowers employees with the ability to future-proof themselves, and the organization to future-proof its workforce planning.
We define career development as an employee engagement process designed to help employees imagine and achieve their own career development goals. These goals could include excelling in their current role, expanding their job function to a project or stretch assignment, exploring new opportunities, or a permanent move within the company. Redeployment involves a similar exploration, though often within the context of a 60- or 90-day timeline and a choice of either accepting an open position internally or exiting.
DELIVERING CAREER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS
It’s a simple enough idea that can be difficult to execute; thus, companies often struggle. We continue to hear from our customers that a “lack of career development opportunities” tops their employee engagement survey challenges.
Here are a few simple steps to consider. Though none will entirely solve the problem, each can contribute to helping you begin this process.
- Give employees the power to manage their own careers. By providing employees with development tools for their careers and their skills, employees can be better positioned to both recognize their need for continuous development and get ahead of skills gaps that might lead to a mass redundancy.
- Give employees the responsibility to manage their own careers. As employers, we absolutely have a responsibility to provide resources to employees, but ultimately, it’s up to employees to manage their own careers. Make it clear that part of their responsibility to themselves, their future security, and their livelihoods is to carve out time for their own development. With technology rapidly changing the skills employees need, employees need to learn how to continuously learn. Taking charge of their own career development is an important step.
- Give managers incentives to share talent with other managers. Hoarding talent is often the instinct of a manager who is held accountable only to business KPIs. When key objectives expand to people development, managers have a built-in incentive to develop their people and share their talent. The most progressive companies are even giving bonuses to managers based on their ability to share talent with other managers.
- Give people options. Human beings value freedom and choices. At the time a reduction in force is considered, are there alternatives to exiting these employees? Could they be given 60 days to find a job internally within the company and given tools to help them do this? One company we worked with set a goal to redeploy employees who had been identified for a layoff. They decided to invest only 10 percent of the cost they would have invested in the employee’s severance package. By investing in the employee’s reskilling, retraining, and redeployment internally, the company was able to achieve its redeployment objectives, keep more of its valued employees, fill open roles, and save money.
- Cut the red tape; make it easy for people to stretch roles, take on projects, or shift roles. We hear horror stories of people who wanted to change roles and managers who supported such moves but had significant challenges with internal systems that made these transitions difficult. Divisions often have different payroll or HRIS systems, which can have the effect of forcing employees to apply for internal roles the same way external applicants do. This leads to a reality of today’s low unemployment environment: It’s often easier to get a job outside the company than inside. By switching this equation, we can encourage more internal talent mobility.
Consider a future world where any of these five ideas were put in place. Moving employees off the balance sheet will always be a reality. And providing them with alternatives will help us be more responsible, not only to our shareholders, but also to the people who make the profit happen. In a time of record low unemployment, the need to redeploy and keep your current employees is crucial to fill open roles and retain valued employees—all while saving the company money.
Upcoming webinar: Join our upcoming October 8, 2019 webinar, "Skills Gaps are Opportunities to Develop a Future-Ready Workforce" at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern to learn about training and development approaches that are being used to close skills gaps and improve the value proposition for current employees. Check back soon on our HR Resources page under Upcoming Webinars for more details.