8th May, 2020

Key considerations for redeploying staff during COVID-19

At a time when significant drops in demand are leaving employees unable to perform their usual duties, businesses need to implement redeployment strategies to ensure staff can contribute to areas of the business that need it the most.

As government stimulation starts to kick in and the shock of COVID-19 begins to wear off, there’s a range of new truths that the business world must now come to terms with.

The significant drop in demand that the apparent economic downturn has caused means that a business’s resources need to be applied differently.

Innovation and out-of-the-box thinking have become more important than ever, and little mercy is shown to those who aren’t ready to move with the times and adapt accordingly.

A decrease in demand means that there may be staff on your payroll who have less work to do, and this availability means the commodity of time could go from being rare to plentiful.

Adapting to this new (albeit temporary) reality is about knowing how to get the most out of your resources in a way that solves the immediate issue of finding value adding jobs for your staff, and simultaneously gives your business a newfound diversity that can be tapped into in the future.

Redeploying your staff into other roles

Thanks to the government’s JobKeeper scheme, eligible businesses have been able to hold onto staff that they may have otherwise needed to let go. While this has saved many thousands of jobs across the country, due to dwindling demand, these employees may need to be redeployed into other areas of your business.

If such a scenario presents itself within your organisation, instead of letting these employees sit idly by as time ticks along, you have a unique opportunity to retrain them into different roles to maximise their utilisation.

There are three major benefits to utilising this downtime to move staff around and teach them how to operate in various capacities. These benefits can have a positive impact on your business both in the short term, and for years to come.

1. Increases employee morale

Many employees’ skillsets reach far beyond what is outlined for them in their position descriptions. They may have been hired to fill a certain role in the team, but that is in no way an indication of what their capabilities are limited to.

When a staff member is redeployed into a role within the company that could use a few extra pairs of hands, the employee’s feeling of fulfillment and increased morale is topped off by the fact that the employee is now contributing something of value to their organisation.

Aside from boosting morale, offering value adding services can also have a positive impact on the employee’s mental health and wellbeing – something which cannot be understated in times like these.

2. Strengthens contingency plans

When an employee goes on leave, businesses often find themselves scrambling to identify ways to hold up the fort until the staff member returns. In cases like parental leave or extended sick leave, this period of vulnerability can last for months on end.

Retraining employees into other roles during times the quiet times allows for the business to reinforce its contingency plan for when a key staff member is on leave.

This tag-team approach is only possible if there is enough time to adequately train the temporary replacement, so using an employee’s current availability for this purpose is a great way to maximise their utilisation.

3. Uncover unexpected talents

Employees who spend most of their time at an organisation doing their assigned job, don’t often get the opportunity to express some of the more diverse qualities that they might possess.

Many of them might have leadership qualities or different capabilities that could be extremely useful to the business, but as a result of being defined to only the role that they were hired to do, no one (sometimes not even they themselves) ends up finding out about those qualities.

By using this period to redeploy your staff into different roles, you’re being given the opportunity to learn more about the deeper dimensions that they possess, and in turn the chance to uncover new capabilities that can be developed within your organisation now and into the future.

Look for the skills overlap

Just because you have employees with capacity, doesn’t mean you should be putting square pegs into round holes. Having the insight into which alternative role would suit each employee is a large part redeploying them effectively.

Many positions within an organisation — even the ones that seem to be polar opposites to each other — have certain similarities and crossovers that can be leveraged to increase resource utilisation during quiet times.

READ: Remote recruitment for when you need to hire without shaking hands

For example, an accountant’s precision and eye for error could prove useful in reviewing marketing copy, and a receptionist’s people skills might be diverted into sales. Tasks like data entry are highly transferrable across a wide variety of systems across the business, allowing a smooth transition process from one data entry role to another.

To find these crossovers, it’s important to look at each role within the company with a different set of lenses. Instead of viewing a certain role as a general ‘position’, you need to dissect and analyse each of the roles’ functionalities and components so you can spot the similarities.

By identifying where these crossovers lie and leveraging them effectively, you aren’t just redeploying a staff member for the sake of it – you’re setting them up so they can thrive in their new role.

Leveraging your Business Management Software

Aside from tapping into diverse skillsets and looking for the point where tasks within roles have crossover, the roles into which you place employees with additional capacity should be as data driven as possible.

Using your Business Management Software (BMS) allows you to take a step back and view the entire business holistically, which helps identify the areas of the business in which demand has either increased or dropped.

The ability to redirect workflows is another feature of your BMS that will prove useful when redeploying staff. With employees shifting between teams, relying on this technology to share the workflow around seamlessly makes the staff member’s transition easier, and helps maintain your quality of service.

Using your BMS as part of your realignment strategy will give you comfort in knowing that you’re making the right moves to make the most of the situation at hand.

Bringing your process improvement plans forward

Realigning your business isn’t only about finding ways to make the most of your employees, but it’s also about using the downtime wisely.

Dynamic businesses are always coming up with ways to improve their processes. Over time, they gradually fill their proverbial backburners with ideas and projects that they hope to eventually get to.

Examples of those plans might include things like CRM clean-ups, website updates, producing a library of web content and running system upgrades.

If there was ever a time to start working through those projects, it’s now.

Through the careful and strategic redeployment of your staff, and the forward looking approach of taking on long-term projects that improve your business processes, you’ll be able to reap the benefits in the future and look back at this time knowing that you took the right steps to adapt to COVID-19 appropriately.

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