As NAFTA pessimism continues to mount, the projected effects of the Trump tax cuts and potential auto tariffs on the Canadian economy have left more organizations bracing for economic disruption. For organizations unsure about the future, it may be time to rethink how changes in the workforce have been handled in the past. Instead of relying solely on layoffs to solve your labour challenges, consider taking a three-pronged approach; outplacement, redeployment and career development. In addition to offering support to employees who will not be remaining at the company, partnering with a contemporary outplacement services provider can help you identify ways to move people within your company and ensure that they’re successful once they move.
When workforce transformations are necessary, redeployment and career development programs can be viable alternatives to layoffs, improving the lives of workers and securing the success of organizations. What we know about downsizing events is that most of the time, an organization’s needs actually shift as the economic situation shifts. Rather than blanket downsizing, it makes sense to move people, not just eliminate them -- especially since these organizations are often downsizing in one area while simultaneously supplementing talent levels in another.
As the war for talent, the need for specific skills, and economic uncertainty all converge on organizations, looking for new ways to use existing talent makes good business sense. When organizations can match outgoing talent in one department to open roles in another, the brand benefits.
This sort of movement is known as redeployment and it gives people inspiration to embrace and continue to embrace the brand. When leveraging redeployment in an organization, companies can reduce workforces in one area and fill talent gaps in others without losing the legacy knowledge acquired by employees who have been with the company for some time.
The cost benefits of money saved in recruiting, onboarding and training costs for new employees far outweigh the time and energy it may take for an internal candidate to learn the specific skills needed for the new role. In the end, the skills they already have and their connection to your organization are valuable and irreplaceable. The fact is, if you aren’t moving people within your organization, you’re likely losing them to competitors where they can’t help but share the expertise and knowledge they’ve gained working for you.
When organizations attempt to tackle alternatives such as redeployment, they’re likely to start talking about these opportunities in connection with career development opportunities for the individuals involved. When considering professional development initiatives, it’s easy to get bogged down in just skills development. Instead, think of career development in terms of the new opportunities that will come with the open positions you’re hoping to fill.
Opening up these opportunities means that organizations need to look at the career development services they provide employees. Online, skills-based tutorials alone are not going to lead these people into growth opportunities or help them find ways to fit into alternative roles at the organization. In some cases, the employee will be self-aware and very sure of career goals at any given moment. But, in most cases, people need the guidance of a career coach who can prod them to match their own career objectives to organizational goals.
Unlike most managers and HR professionals, career coaches are trained to help people determine how they can fit into new roles by helping them identify which of their unique talents and experiences fit into open internal opportunities. When it comes down to it, hiring managers are not going to be considering only internal employees for open positions. Those internal employees who are prepared to interview, understand how to network, and can present a resume that highlights transferrable skills will be the ones who make a strong impression on hiring managers and move into the new roles.
Partnering with a third-party consultant
Regardless of good intentions, HR departments are rarely successful at fully implementing redeployment and career development programs on their own. This is where partnering with an outplacement services provider can be a real asset to an organization.
Let’s face it, during a downturn in business, you aren’t going to be able to redeploy everyone who will be impacted. For those employees who must leave the organization, providing the coaching, resume writing, and professional job sourcing services that are available through outplacement programs will protect your brand and help shield the company from legal action. At the same time, finding ways to retain your most valuable talent and help them to successfully land and keep new roles within the organization will save money and valuable institutional knowledge.
Even if your organization hasn’t been affected by economic disruption yet, having alternatives to layoffs in place will prepare you to make better workforce transformation decisions when the time comes to restructure.
By Laurie Compartino, general manager, Canada at RiseSmart