When a restructuring of the workforce or a reduction in staff happens, HR and team leaders often remind affected employees that they can certainly apply for other positions that are open within the company.
“A ha, there’s a solution, I’m offering a positive option!” may be the subconscious message that flashes through our minds between thoughts of re-staffing, budgeting and facing the next employee. But really, how practical is this prospect? Worse yet, are we really just giving lip service, unintentionally of course?
As human resource leaders, we can make this suggestion and have it really carry weight for employees who may be facing uncertainty. In fact, over the last year, Careerminds has been asked by clients to develop strategies for just this challenge.
The first approach is to attack this challenge far in advance. Long before a reduction in staff becomes a reality, invest time in really understanding your workforce. The best way to start this process is to provide career and/or competency assessments. Get a full picture of your employees’ potential, both the responsibilities for which they have actually been hired as well as additional areas where their skills could be used affectively.
From your employees’ perspective, results from assessments can be real eye openers. People are often surprised at first, and after some thought, their horizons broaden and they become more open to possibilities. Now your workforce is more open to additional or different responsibilities and often takes a more positive view of future change in the work place.
Now that you have this career insight, nurture it in your employees so that their potential might be fulfilled. Of course you don’t want to distract people from their actual jobs, but create an atmosphere where employees feel that they have options.
Workshops, lunch time seminars and webinars on understanding career options, developing core business competencies, and networking help create this atmosphere.
As the human resources leader, you play an important role in creating an atmosphere where employees’ full potential can be struck. Make it a priority to work with department managers to identify gaps in your workforce. Then work to fill those gaps with short- and long-term goals by developing strategies that step up pressing skills and broader initiatives for long term benefits.
We’re in the 21st century now, change is coming sooner or later. And when a reduction in force is a necessity, review the employee inventory you have been accumulating so you and your team can make decisions that will have lasting positive impact for your company as well as those affected.
Then if and when change does come, offer employees the opportunity to apply for open positions with the confidence that you have built them up to take this suggestion seriously. Besides, these are employees you already know and more importantly, they know the company and its culture. That in itself makes this effort valuable in the long run.