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Workforce Redeployment: What to Consider

May 10, 2018 by Josh Hrala

Despite how we use the term in conversation, a layoff is meant to be a temporary reduction where individuals are let go but promised that they will be invited back if the organization can find new work for them. At the same time, layoffs can be avoided altogether if an individual is willing to change their role. Both of these moves fall under the umbrella term of workforce redeployment.

Workforce Redeployment

What Is Workforce Redeployment?

In short, workforce redeployment is when a staff member leaves their old role and starts in a new one within the same company. This could mean that they are taking a completely new job with a new title, are moving to new location, or will start working with a new team. It all depends on the needs of the company and the worker’s strengths.

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While that is a simple definition, workforce redeployment – as a strategy – requires a bit more nuance to work correctly. After all, it consists of a lot of change, and change is never easy.

So, to help with all of that, let’s dig into what you need to know about workforce redeployment. Specifically, what to look out for when making a move like this.

Workforce Redeployment: Consider the Optics and Impact

When a major change happens at an organization, people get panicky. It’s just what happens. This reaction makes sense, too, because no one wants to think that their job is on the line.

The good news is that workforce redeployment strategies are often perceived better than a traditional layoff event internally and externally.

Instead of letting people go, you simply move them around, a move that is similar to workforce planning initiatives, though that term has seemingly become synonymous with layoffs over the past few years.

Side note: workforce planning can cause redundancy, though. If you need to eliminate positions, we recommend checking out our guide:

position elimination

Still, you need to make sure that a workforce redeployment plan is something that will go over well within your organization. During this transitional period, your staff is going to be stressed out because they will be losing team members that they might have come to see as close friends, some employees may have to move away to new locations, and roles may shift and change depending on what needs done.

All in all, it’s a trying time where everyone is trying to figure out their new role and maintain the relationships that they have fostered in the old one. It’s important for HR and management to make sure that this process goes over as smoothly as possible to minimize stress.

Provide Clear Information on Performance

When someone starts a new role, it’s vital that they are given appropriate KPIs and are told what is expected of them. Without some clear guidance, the worker is left guessing if they are doing the role successfully, which is the opposite of how things should be.

Workforce Redeployment

While the worker is being onboarded to the new role, their manager should explain to them all of their tasks in detail and then explain what metric will be used to track how well they do. This requires setting up target goals, explaining how the role operates, who they will report to, etc.

It’s basically a full-blown onboarding meeting as if this individual has just been hired from outside of the company. By providing this crazy level of information, you set up the redeployed staff member for success, allowing them to jump into the role with a complete sense of what is expected of them and how they will achieve their tasks.

Assigning the Right People to Right Role

When it comes to workforce redeployment, you suddenly have the power to look at your existing talent and see if there is a role better suited for them than the one they were hired to perform.

For example, say you have an admin assistant that is super creative and is always offering up new ideas for marketing. If that person’s job is one that is impacted by a redeployment, they might be better off in the marketing department putting that skill to use.

In other words, you need to make sure that your workforce’s talents align with their job duties and that these talents align with your business goals.

To make sure that this process works out in your favor, you should hold meetings or discussions with those being deployed to see if they have any talents that they think might be of use. Of course, this can get tricky, too. After all, just because someone says that they want to perform whatever role and that they have that specific skill set, it doesn’t always come out that way in reality. Just because someone thinks themselves a great artist, doesn’t mean they have what it takes to be on the graphic design team.

Workforce Redeployment

You also have to consider the team these individuals will be joining. Do they have the resources to train up someone from another department? Are they prepared for this challenge? Are they going to be resistant about the move?

As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider. Depending on your corporate culture, you can handle these in different ways. It’s impossible for us to give exact advice because everywhere is different. However, we can definitively say that considering all sides is a great way to start seeing what will work for your specific organization, team, or staff member.

The goal, like we said above, should be to redeploy talent in ways that makes better use of individual skill while also aligning with your business goals. If you hit both of these buckets with your redeployment, you organization can become stronger without the need for a reduction or the onboarding of outside talent. A win-win.

Now, onto the last thing:

Moving Talent Geographically

Depending, again, on your specific organization, redeployed workers might have to change their working location. This can be challenging for both you and your staff member.

First, let’s consider the staff member.

Many workers try to live within a certain distance from their job, an area that is reasonable and doesn’t require extensive travel to and from the office. Is the new location they are moving to harder to get to? Will they have to move their families to take on the new role?

Obviously, minimizing moving is a good. . . move because it doesn’t uproot your worker and cause them the stress of finding a new home while also learning a new job. That’s double the stress both mentally and physically.


If you have only one office, this section is super easy for you because the only physical move will be from one office to another and even that might not need to happen.

When a worker is relocated, the bill is usually covered by the company. Whether that means paying travel expenses, helping an employee find a new home with a company-provided realtor or whatever.

As you can probably guess, this costs a lot of money and resources to handle correctly. If you have forced someone to move to keep their role, you should be ready for these costs. After all, it’s not the employee’s decision.

There are a lot of smaller details here that we will not get into because they all largely depend on what type of redeployment your company is looking to perform. Workforce redeployment doesn’t necessarily mean a physical move, though for larger companies who have teams all over the place, it be mandatory.

Workforce Redeployment: Key Takeaways

Let’s wrap all of this up.

There are some key takeaways for you to consider when you start implementing a workforce redeployment plan.

First, know that workforce redeployment is a great way to get around the negative impacts that come with a reduction in force or layoff event. It shows that your organization wants to retain their talent and put them to work in new roles that more align with your corporate needs.

Workforce Redeployment

To pull of a workforce redeployment, you first need to understand what talent you have. This is where workforce planning comes in handy because it allows you to gauge the talents of your staff and make the appropriate moves.

Once your talent has been analyzed, you can start switching around roles, paying close attention to factors like: will this person fit into the role, do they know what KPIs they will have to achieve and what metrics will be examined, do they know how to fulfill this role and what the company aims to see from them, will they fit in with their new manager, will they have to move?

We could keep going on and on with different questions. However, the most important thing we can say it to thorough. You can to turn over every rock to make sure that your plan will be successful.

If done correctly, workforce redeployment is a great way to optimize your talent.

Want to learn more? Check out our free workforce redeployment checklist:

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Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

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