Is Employee Redeployment Part of Your Corporate Culture?

Tell me… is an employee redeployment process part of your corporate culture plan? Have you considered its role in employee engagement? Retention? Growth and development?

If not, you should. When done right, a strong redeployment strategy:

  • Keeps your best people happy
  • Costs way less than hiring and firing
  • Can help prevent and alleviate burnout

In this article, we’ll discuss:

What is Employee Redeployment?

Redeployment is when an employee is moved from one role to another within the same organization. It isn’t necessarily a promotion or demotion, but more often what we’d call a ‘lateral move’.

When Would an Employee be Redeployed?

As a tool of talent management, employee redeployment is something that can be used in a variety of situations. Here are just a few possibilities:

  • To staff a new business location
  • To retain employees whose department, team or role may be closing
  • To accommodate and retain employees who want to try something new, or are feeling unsatisfied or unchallenged in their current role
  • To accommodate a team or department with increased staffing needs
  • To create flexibility (some businesses may find it beneficial to have staff members capable of easily shifting responsibilities as work changes demand)
  • As part of an employee’s career growth path (they may want to move up the ladder and need to expand their skills and/or knowledge of the organization)

Redeployment empowers organizations to tap into the full potential of their people’s strengths, talents and passions, while addressing the inevitable ebbs and flows of business. Not only can it be an important part of your corporate culture, leading it can also be a key element of servant leadership.

The Role of Employee Redeployment in Preventing Burnout

This time in history has brought a pandemic, recession and war. On top of that, it’s being hailed as “The Great Resignation” as people have left their jobs in record numbers over the past two years. In fact, a recent poll from Monster found that about 95% of Americans were considering leaving their jobs, with burnout cited as the top reason.

In 2019, Harvard Business Review identified 6 key causes of burnout: workload, perceived lack of control, rewards/compensation (both intrinsic and extrinsic), community, fairness, and values mismatch.

These issues need to be addressed and doing so may demand a full overhaul of your organization’s way of doing things. Of the 6 burnout causes noted above, 3 can be directly impacted by a strong employee redeployment strategy:

  1. Perceived lack of control – When there are ample development opportunities available, and the opportunity to explore different paths, it gives people greater ownership of their career trajectory, and a sense of control over their professional life.
  2. Rewards/compensation – The opportunity to grow and explore is, itself, a reward. Additionally, a sense of pride comes with mastering something new, which can be a powerful reward. Finally, learning opportunities can be part of a well-rounded compensation package that makes employees feel valued for both their contribution and their potential.
  3. Community – When people move around the organization, it has the benefit of creating cross-team or cross-department connections that can – if you’ve done the work to cultivate a healthy and supportive working environment – strengthen the overall sense of community for everyone, not just the redeployed employee.

The Importance of Proper Employee Redeployment

What do I mean by “proper”? It’s about meeting the employee where they are. Proper redeployment must recognize strengths, as well as areas for growth, AND provide opportunities and resources to facilitate that growth, AND be a safe space for learning. Let’s explore each of those:

  • Recognizing strengths – Seek out transferable skills and talents. Things like the ability to prioritize, communication skills, staying cool under pressure, seeing different perspectives, being able to dance in the moment and so on, are all skills that can be brought into different roles. Look for these and openly recognize them.
  • Recognize areas for growth – An employee may have an interest in a role, but not yet have the skill. Prioritize the interest! Skills can be learned. Interest and enthusiasm can’t. If someone has an interest in something, recognize it and look for ways that their interest can be turned into growth.
  • Provide opportunities – In providing opportunities and resources, be considerate of people’s whole lives – not just their working life. As much as possible, seek out programs, workshops, courses, etc. that take place during regular business hours.If training is only possible outside of business hours, consider how that time can be given back to the employee in some way. Remember that this is meant to benefit the organization and the employee, as well as to mitigate burnout risks, not add to them.
  • Be a safe space – There’s a saying that if you want to be good at something, you have to be ok with being bad at it first. That’s the path of learning and development – mistakes and missteps. It’s inevitable, so it has to be safe! Think about how mistakes are currently dealt with in your organization. Are they met with shame or curiosity? Judgment or encouragement? As a leader, are you open about your own mistakes? Is your workplace a safe space for truth? For people to learn, it has to feel safe to do so.

When approaching employee redeployment strategies, be sure to also recognize where people are at in terms of well being. Is this person already struggling with burnout, disengagement, lack of motivation, or a feeling of stuckness? Are they dealing with personal issues on top of trying to figure out their role in the organization? Could they benefit from a few coaching sessions or a mentorship relationship to support them?

Recognizing well being also goes towards mitigating those 3 burnout causes – control, rewards, community. When you provide safe space and support for people to work through issues and do their inner work, you give them the opportunity to take control over their path, a powerful sense of personal reward, and most impactfully, a sense of community at work. This doesn’t just prevent burnout, it also cultivates greater engagement, creativity, productivity, initiative, cooperation, loyalty and so much more. It contributes to an overall culture of trust, respect, growth and accountability.

Alongside employee well being, also think about how the current corporate culture may be contributing to negativity in the workplace. If someone is struggling or unhappy in their current role, what are ALL the reasons for that? Is there a trend of heavy workloads and long hours? Is there a lot of gossip or other toxic behaviours? Are leaders respectful of the people they lead? Moving employees around will not solve those problems. Instead, you’ll lose your best people. If there is a cultural problem, make it right.

Successful Employee Redeployment Strategies

Redeployment is a tool that can be used in a variety of situations. As such, your strategy should be flexible, and able to bend to meet specific needs. However, there are a few strategies to incorporate into your overall redeployment process to help ensure success:

  • Think skills and interests, not roles
    Instead of thinking along the lines of, “We have an open finance role, so we need a finance person,” think broader. Consider the skills, mindset, strengths or interests needed to fill an open position and open up your possibilities to a wider employee base. Or vice versa. If an employee is unhappy in their role (or their role is no longer needed), consider the full range of their strengths, skills and interests.
  • Encourage and facilitate cross-team work
    Find and create ways for people to collaborate and communicate. This allows employees to broaden their horizons, and allows leaders to see how their people perform in different scenarios and environments.
  • Understand why people leave
    Employee redeployment can contribute to a culture of loyalty and engagement IF you also address internal issues. Motivated, energetic, engaged, creative people leave when they’re bored or unhappy. Those are your best people; the ones who don’t sit still, but strive to make things happen. If they’re unhappy, they have the energy and drive to leave. And they will.
  • Celebrate lateral movement
    Not everyone wants upward movement. But, top employees are usually the type of people who thrive on trying new things and growing their skills. A lot of corporate cultures – and society in general – see promotion as the ultimate measure of success. So, if that isn’t what drives someone, how can they find fulfillment in their work? One way is through celebrating redeployment with the same enthusiasm you would celebrate a promotion.
  • Create an internal coaching or mentoring program
    One of the most effective ways of encouraging employee growth and development is by establishing an internal coaching program, and matching employees with mentors or coaches within the organization. It gives them someone who ‘knows the ropes’ to talk openly with and explore possibilities. With these kinds of relationships, people can more easily get clarity on what they truly want, and what options are available to them within the organization.
  • Offer ‘open’ education benefits
    Many companies that offer education benefits stipulate that the benefit can only be used for training directly related to the employee’s role. This may seem to make sense, but it actually stifles growth. It allows them to grow in only one direction instead exploring their full potential. Offer education benefits and keep it open to anything related to the organization in general.
  • Keep track of transferable skills
    A great time to do this is during performance reviews. As you’re considering an employee’s performance, make note of the broad skills and talents that make them a great employee and keep a record of them. During your one-on-one reviews, ask employees what other roles or departments they’re also interested in and why. Record those interests as well. Now you have the data to help make decisions when potential redeployment situations arise.

There are so many elements that make up corporate culture. Because of this, the idea of changing your overall culture can feel overwhelming. The good news is, once you commit to making positive changes, those changes have domino effects that impact multiple areas of your culture and organization. Employee redeployment can be one of those changes, if you do the work to take full advantage of what this tool has to offer.

If you would like guidance in developing an employee redeployment process, or understanding how, where and why your employees can potentially be redeployed in positive ways, I invite you to connect with me.