The global pandemic has brought increasingly difficult financial decisions into focus for many organisations, notes Mike Rob Bothma, Strategic Business Solutions Engineer at Oracle. Realigning, stretching and strategically redeploying human resources has become increasingly important alongside cost containment initiatives.

Staff have been redeployed into new areas to meet the critical business priorities often at short notice and under pressure. A recent example we heard of has been happening in hospitals. Nurses who do not normally work in intensive care wards have been trained to work in these new wards, as they became the key care priority during the COVID-19 crisis.

By repurposing human resources and retraining, business priorities can be met while ensuring critical skills and experience built up over time within an organisation is not lost. This human capital may be required now, or it may be needed in the future. Repurposing can provide resource flexibility and agility to companies managing cost. It can deepen and enlarge a company’s skill inventory, as well as securing ongoing employment for affected staff. Repurposing considerations may involve:

  1. Senior executives and HR reviewing the strategic resourcing requirements of the organisation
  2. Ensuring all key roles have comprehensive succession plans in place
  3. Identifying work priorities and key roles
  4. Assessing the work being performed
  5. Understanding and assessing individual skills set
  6. Management of the individual impact of change
  7. Reskilling or upskilling, and
  8. Measuring and monitoring the implementation and impact.

Repurposing and retraining talent at speed

Organisations which normally operate in highly volatile situations may already be well-versed and experienced in repurposing and redeploying their workforce to maximum effect. They have learned that to be successful takes structure, focus and an integrated HR platform. For many other organisations, however, this quick shift has been incredibly challenging as their usual stability has been undermined by the pandemic.

Central to being able to quickly reposition human resources is being able to capture the current level of skills and experience of your workforce: the level of proficiency and aptitude. Once captured, the data needs to be easy to access, analyse and model. This can then be profiled against the critical roles where, ideally duration and location have also been confirmed.

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) embedded in your HCM platform allows you to run multiple scenarios and assess the potential employee fit and development requirements. The outcome of such an exercise will enable the learning and development team to deliver targeted training and learning resources, and increase time to effectiveness.

Employees also get the benefit of having required learning “pushed” to them based on knowledge gaps in their current role as well required learning for roles identified as part of their career development plans.

As with any organisational change, change management will need to be carefully considered. If repurposing is seen as a permanent change, important considerations include employee-related aspects such as location, pay, benefits, work patterns, team structure, performance management and employee wellbeing needs to be taken into account.

From our personal experience, the implementation of such changes normally involves capturing significant amounts of documentation, contract changes, approvals, HR data changes and payroll administration. This will ultimately fall to HR services to manage.

The mass update and data integrity control capability within the Oracle Cloud HCM support can reduce the level of “heavy lifting” and ensure compliance with Protection of Pesonal Information Act (POPI) for our South Africa customers and compliance with regards to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Within Oracle Cloud HCM, automated dashboards can be easily set up to monitor and manage the workforce change implementation. This is crucial if you want your repurposed resources up to speed and effective as soon as possible.

Activating and redeploying the workforce

Onboarding into the reassigned role and delivering the right training is also essential. The Oracle Cloud HCM platform can enable both of these activities. For example, the onboarding process can become employee-centric, targeted, and available remotely, initiated at job offer acceptance, affording the candidate the opportunity to start their onboarding process prior to commencing employment, thereby reducing the non-productive time when their official employment commences.

In terms of training, a skills gap assessment can capture needs and training can be booked en masse, whether it’s eLearning or online classroom training. Again, reporting and dashboards can be created to monitor and measure progress, with individual skill profiles updated with competence levels on completion of the learning activity. Automation and deployment are available through Oracle Cloud HCM.

Furthermore, the flexibility of the Oracle HCM Cloud platform enables the management dashboard to be established with the focus on workforce repurposing and its effectiveness. Metrics within the dashboard may include:

  1. Profile of critical roles in which staff to be repurposed
  2. Experience profile of critical roles
  3. Number of role changes
  4. Profiles of those who have changed roles (location/age/gender/length of service/ skill assessment)
  5. Outcome of the skill gap assessment by population category
  6. Success of repurposed staff (comparison of performance rating).

As mentioned above, the Oracle HCM Cloud capability is available to support role change, onboarding training, controls and measurement, but employees who are impacted by organisational change will continue to need to be supported throughout, with communication and practical guidance playing a pivotal role.

The preparation of answers to standard queries, policy guidance and access to HR services will smooth the transition for repurposed workers, and in this instance, the Oracle HCM digital assistant capability and Oracle Policy Assistant can be extremely effective in digitally supporting staff through the change. By being able to access the digital assistant 24/7 for replies to standard HR queries not only assists employees, but also reduces the amount of time HR needs to dedicate to servicing these requests.

Employee experience and engagement is central to any organisational change, no matter how large or small. Access to the right information, at the right time in the right way, from any device, is central to supporting employees as they navigate change.

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