Recruiting Enablement Blog



Internal Mobility, Redeployment, Furloughing Staff? Definitions and Top Tips for Talent Acquisition Professionals

Mark Rudge May 5, 2020

One of the big trends emerging in talent acquisition since the coronavirus pandemic struck has been a greater need for internal mobility and redeployment.

All over the world, the pandemic has seen companies shifting thousands of employees into new jobs. Supermarkets in the UK and healthcare giants in the US have been hiring staff to fill surges in demand from an array of backgrounds, from  acting to food services to retail to hospitality and aviation. Collaborations are allowing employers that are usually fierce rivals to pool staff with one another to keep businesses running.

There has also been a notable increase in employers rehiring former employees to address workforce shortages. Some 20,000 former NHS staff returned to work in the UK to help in the fight against coronavirus, and the Metropolitan Police has asked officers and sergeants who have retired in the past five years to return to the force as it works to contain the coronavirus outbreak in London.


While similar actions are taken for both, Internal Mobility and Redeployment have different goals:

  • Internal mobility is when employers proactively align their workforce with their strategic business needs. The goal is to develop and foster an internal talent pipeline, through career pathing, succession planning, and learning and development, to ensure the right talent with the right skills is in the right roles at the right time.
  • Redeployment is when employers seek to find new positions for employees who would otherwise be laid off or made redundant. The goal is to avoid or reduce layoffs/redundancies, which can be costly and can negatively impact employee engagement and the company’s brand.
  • It is worth mentioning that neither Internal Mobility nor Redeployment is the same as Furloughing.  Furloughing is when employers give employees a temporary leave of absence (usually unpaid, but with healthcare benefits intact), with the plan to have those employees return to work after a short period of time. The goal, like Redeployment, is to avoid the costs and negative impacts of layoffs -- with the added goal to reduce workforce costs, temporarily.

Top Tips

Here’s some top tips to approach internal mobility and redeployment during this uncertain time and beyond:

Tip 1: Be adaptive and dynamic to protect and leverage key skill sets

Internal Mobility and Redeployment are about being adaptive and dynamic, and ensuring you have the right people in the right roles at the right time. In difficult economic times, this means protecting and retaining  core skill sets and top talent within your workforce, even if a role is not practical in the current time. As HR industry expert Josh Bersin points out in this article, “Research shows that when these [challenging economic] periods occur, companies that go through deep layoffs always underperform in the future.” Redeployment helps you weather the storm, and can play a critical role in future proofing your business. Similarly, Internal Mobility enables you to move employees with the right skill sets or attributes to parts of the business where they are most needed.

Tip 2: Be creative, offering employees short-term reassignments

Whether you are working to avoid layoffs by redeploying staff, or are trying to provide career opportunities for employees in a new growth area of your business, be creative: 

Consider temporarily reassigning employees to alternate roles, even if the roles may not  be a natural fit for them.. This will help to make the employee feel protected and engaged, maintain employer advocacy, and reduce the risk of losing key talent to involuntary turnover. People + Work Connect is a new initiative that takes getting creative with redeployment to a new level: recognising that, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, many companies are reducing their workforces, while others can't fill jobs fast enough, People + Work Connect is an online employer-to-employer platform that enables companies to, essentially, share talent pools. 

Tip 3: Empower internal candidates with tailored job boards 

Key to Internal Mobility and Redeployment is  internal job boards and platforms. Such technology empowers you to give first preference to employees, who have a firm understanding of business processes and have transferable skills to retain. Make it easy for employees:  leverage recruiting technology to post jobs internally first, search your internal talent pools, and engage potential internal candidates. 

Tip 4: Get the best out of your alumni too 

Internal Mobility also includes former employees who were really good, but left. These difficult times sadly see many employees losing their jobs, be it through furlough or redundancies/layoffs. Alumni job boards can be a good way to re-engage those who left, without a negative backstory. As with internal job boards, post to your alumni boards before general release. Leverage your recruiting technology to identify and nurture alumni candidates. 

Tip 5: Make internal job boards relatable and easy 

At times like this, business transformation can seem inevitable, leaving employees feeling stressed and uncertain. Be sensitive to this: instead of creating one job board for all, create as many  as needed to make them relatable to all employees. For instance, create boards based on different vacancy bands or grades. It's a delicate time for all involved: make the process as quick, simple, and relevant as you can. Don’t ask employees  to rekey too much information and have a good communications process setup.

Tip 6: Seek to limit sourcing costs 

Internal mobility and Redeployment are a great way to reduce costs, avoiding agency fees. By calling on your internal talent pool, you can speed up processes, achieve efficiencies, and retain top talent, while also avoiding your dependency on agencies. 

Whether you are growing, holding, or reducing your workforce, Internal Mobility and Redeployment can help to  ensure you have the right people in the right place at the right time,  play a key role in your workforce strategy. Learn more.

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