During lean times proactive internal placement can ensure that the redeployment of employees results in maximum productivity. It’s also an opportunity for recruiters to dramatically increase their contribution by adding the role of internal recruiter talent scout. Yes, increasing a recruiter’s impact in a new area may be necessary. With a dramatic reduction in external recruiting, many executives will assume that most recruiters are no longer needed. So, it makes sense for recruiters to proactively expand their role so that their value add is higher and more visible. They can do that by convincing executives to let them use their recruiting talents and tools during any idle time to act in the role of intra-placement recruiter. Fortunately, the proactive placement of surplus employees can at the same time reduce the need for layoffs and measurably increase workforce productivity.
During all of the confusion during a business downturn, your top employees that are ready to move are going to get a better offer… the only question is whether the offer will come from inside or outside the organization
The talent acquisition functions at recruiting powerhouse firms including Booz Allen and Cisco have had established successful intra-placement programs for a while. In addition, Google’s project chameleon program and Schneider Electric’s, Open Talent Market are unique intra-placement programs because both are partially driven by an algorithm that has helped to produce amazing results. It’s also true that internal placement may be as much as 1.7 times cheaper than external hires because they have much higher salary expectations than internal transfers (Source: Saratoga Institute).
The Many Ways That Intra-Placement Adds Value During A Down Economy
With this added role, an intra-placement recruiter proactively aids in the moving of surplus talent out of lower impact teams and into areas where these employees can have a much greater business impact. There are multiple reasons why lean times with its massive restructuring and potential layoffs increase the value of and the need for proactive internal movement. They include:
- The severity of the downturn means a large number of surplus employees – The severity of the current business downturn means that the sheer number of employees that could be labeled as “surplus” may be at a record high for your organization. And with so many employees currently in the wrong place and so few opportunities for them to move, it’s essential that professional recruiters get involved, to increase the speed and the quality of your internal placements.
- The pandemic and WFH makes internal search more difficult – With a large percentage of the workforce working at home, an internal job search is much more difficult. First, the existing internal movement and transfer systems are probably in disrepair because they have not been an HR priority. Also, with so many working from home, there are fewer face-to-face interactions which makes it much more difficult for managers and employees to informally find out about development or actual transfer and promotion possibilities. Obviously, with fewer face-to-face interactions, employees have fewer chances to sell themselves to their next potential manager. Lastly, when you remove jobs that require an employee to be in the office, there are fewer net job openings available for transfers and promotions.
- The future is so unclear that their current manager may incorrectly advise them – Normally an employee’s current manager would want to reward their loyalty by helping their surplus employees move into their ideal placement. However, with all of the external volatility combined with the internal confusion and reorganization, it’s highly likely that the manager of surplus employees will be confused about where in the organization that they can have their highest impact. Ordinarily, a surplus employee would look at their job search from a selfish perspective. However, with this partnership, the recruiter can help the employee to also better understand the company’s needs. The internal recruiter can also minimize cases where bosses selfishly “hold back” their best employees from transfers. And, recruiters can help minimize the fear that many employees have that even applying for a transfer may cause them to be labeled as “disloyal.”
- The magnitude of today’s reorganizations will cloud employee decision-making – Lean times force organizations into major reorganizations and significant shifts in their priorities. Reorganizations increase the need for faster and more accurate redeployments. However, because of the “reorganizational haze” that is created, your surplus employees are likely to be unclear on whether they should move. And if they do, where should they move to increase their contribution and their job security. Unfortunately, without the help of an internal recruiter, new hires that you have just invested a lot in their training are the most likely to be incorrectly placed or let go. Few managers other than their own know about them and they don’t have an established internal performance record to make others want to take them.
- Work pressure may make managers too busy to seek out candidates – during restructuring, budget-cutting, and the confusion of a business downturn. Individual managers may be too busy to actively recruit surplus talent that could make a significant contribution to their team. Fortunately, proactive internal recruiters can find and present the talent they need in a single package. Minimizing the time they need to spend on internal recruiting, candidate assessment, and maximizing the time that they spend managing their team.
- Faster internal movement accelerates a return of maximum productivity – Internal recruiters will focus placements on prioritized jobs. The high priority areas of your business will return to maximum productivity almost immediately. And, with internal recruiters providing the remaining managers with employees that are a perfect fit, the remaining jobs will also be filled much faster than under the standard job posting system. The turmoil created by the internal movement process itself will be over in up to half the time. Also, the newly placed employees will likely be highly excited about the new opportunity because it is a perfect fit for them. Ideal placements will allow everyone’s focus to return to maximizing productivity and powering out of this business downturn.
- The retention of top performers may be improved – even with high unemployment rates. Some of your top surplus employees may be considering leaving because of all the current and future turmoil at your organization. These top performers may also be receiving external offers. Fortunately, if you have internal recruiters pushing ideal exciting internal opportunities to these top performers, they are more likely to stay. You may also increase their probability of most of your transferred employees staying for an extended period of time because the recruiter found them such an ideal placement. It is important to note that research has demonstrated that an employee who made a lateral move to a new function is 38% more likely to stay.
- Diversity will not be forgotten – even with the increased interest in diversity, your overall diversity ratio is likely to suffer because few traditional internal placement systems include an emphasis on maintaining diversity. However, your intra-placement recruiters will be trained in the importance of diversity in customer impact jobs. So, they will be able to use their selling skills to ensure that the target levels of diversity are maintained in key jobs.
- Targeted placements increase your business impacts – because the primary focus of your intra-placement recruiters is to maximize the business impacts resulting from internal transfers. The number of internal transfers may result in a high business impact that will increase well beyond what could have been expected. Because your recruiters will be good at selling surplus employees, they should choose the transfer option that provides the highest business impact.
- Recruiters excel at assessment and selling – because of their training and experience. Recruiters add a second more neutral opinion (than their manager) on an individual employee’s transfer. They are less likely to have a bias covering where to best place an employee and on whether they should be released. Their “fresh eyes” can enable them to identify skills that were not being used. And because they are trained recruiters, they can probably better “sell” a candidate to their next manager. These sales skills may be needed due to the prolonged recession. Many employees that are being displaced may have not looked for a job in years, so they may be rusty at selling themselves.
- Intra-placement broadens global opportunities – because many corporations are now global with multiple physical locations. It becomes almost impossible for a single employee to be “in the know” about all global opportunities. Fortunately, intra-placement recruiters can keep track of these global opportunities. And now that there is multiple work from home options available, intra-placement recruiters can speed up the transfer of employees between countries and business units without the need for relocation.
- It speeds up the job placement rate of “passive employees – just like external candidates, some employees may be quite passive when it comes to a job search. They may be passive and not actively looking because of team loyalty or because they lack self-confidence. Recruiters can ensure that these reluctant job searchers are not left behind because they waited too long to seek out transfers. Recruiters can proactively push relevant jobs directly to them.
- Future skills will be maintained – Intra-placement recruiters will be trained in the “future skills” that the organization will need as it continues to grow. With this added perspective they can better ensure that employees with these needed “future skills” are among the first to be successfully placed.
- You can maintain a strong recruiter group – Keeping your best recruiters employed and up to speed is important if you still have important hiring to do or if you expect a business turnaround in the near future. It will also help you recruit future recruiters when they see that you will protect them during a downturn.
“Would you rather lose the person to a competitor or a colleague?”
(Source: Tom Stachura of IBM).
Most Internal Movement Systems Are Broken
Most companies have internal job posting systems for internal movement. But many were designed during the last century, so they don’t have performance metrics or utilize technology. Today, with a large number of surplus employees using them all at once, they are likely to break down. And because most don’t include features that “push jobs” to the most appropriate person, the employee must find the time to visit them before they can add value.
These traditional systems almost universally rely on the employee to know when is the best time to initiate an internal search. These processes leave the employee “pretty much on their own” when it comes to finding where they can have the highest impact on company results and their career. Also, many of the internal movement systems are painfully slow, they don’t list “hidden jobs”, or they list jobs with which the candidate has already been secretly selected. With multiple HR layoffs, the person responsible for maintaining each of these internal movement systems may even be gone.
I’ve written extensively on how to speed up internal movement (read more here). I find that today’s pandemic driven business downturn is creating so many surplus employees that this is the opportune time to make internal transfers more proactive and effective. I am also confident that you will find that this proactive process with human help will alleviate much of the confusion and anxiety created when you rely on existing internal movement systems. So, why not try a pilot program with one recruiter, to show everyone how effective intra-placement can be.
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© Dr. John Sullivan 10/26/20 for the DJS Aggressive Recruiting newsletter