One of the certainties in IT and cybersecurity is that the field will always be changing. With that comes corresponding changes in job requirements, titles, and specialized skills. How can teams keep up with these rapid changes while avoiding rapid turnover and all the associated costs? That’s where strategic redeployment comes in: using the talent and resources you already have to fill the gaps you most need to address.

Why Focus on Reskilling?

While the instinct may be to start from scratch when a new set of skills is required, research has actually shown the opposite to be more effective (and more cost-effective). Research from Josh Bersin found that the cost of filling a new role with an external hire can be up to six times higher than it would cost to upskill from within the company, and external hires’ turnover rate can be up to two or three times higher than individuals promoted internally. Gallup, meanwhile, found that the cost of replacing an employee who doesn’t work out can range from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary.

These costs add up quickly – which is one reason why reskilling and strategic redeployment are so critical to today’s talent strategy, especially in fast-moving tech fields. Human resource reallocation plays a significant role in maximizing productivity, profits, and satisfaction. This could involve expanding successful projects, trimming ones that aren’t meeting expectations, and reskilling people who may no longer be needed for what they were initially hired for, but who have transferable skills and a strong understanding of company culture and values already.

The results can’t be ignored. PwC found that the difference in profit margin between companies with significant resource reallocation (31–40%) and low reallocation (0–10%) is almost four percentage points. It’s only logical: better-performing teams or projects get more funding and in turn produce more profits. Similarly, it’s cheaper and more efficient to reskill existing employees (and keep their loyalty) than to go through the whole hiring and onboarding process when new skills or specialties are needed.

One of the biggest challenges, however, is identifying where to make the cuts. How can you avoid the sunk-cost fallacy or letting individual biases affect decision-making? The experts at PwC suggest three key strategies:

  1. Rank projects and/or initiatives across your entire company by profitability. Consider the lowest-ranked projects for cutting or slimming down, and reallocate resources – both human and otherwise – towards top performers.
  2. Hold project reviews with small groups of highly-independent stakeholders to reduce the impact of existing power dynamics.
  3. Consider internal human capital reallocation and redeployment as an alternative to M&A-driven approaches to reinvention.

Skills Development and Redeployment in Tech

In IT, cybersecurity, and related fields, upskilling, reskilling, and talent redeployment are even more important for building a resilient team. Harvard Business Review reports that the average “half-life” of many skills is now less than five years, and for some tech fields, it’s as low as two and a half years. With the advent of rapidly-evolving technologies like AI, skills are coming and going faster than ever. So, too, are job descriptions; elusive qualifications like “prompt engineer” or certain cybersecurity credentials can be hard, if not nearly impossible, to source externally.

That’s where internal reskilling comes in – and employees are interested, as long as it’s designed to meet their needs as well as the company’s. A survey by BCG revealed that 68% of workers are willing to reskill to remain competitively employed, and 65% prefer to learn on the job, with the experience (and respect) that entails. In other words, workers are interested in reskilling and upskilling, but: it has to be made worth their while, they have to see the benefits, and they have to be treated with respect as partners throughout the process, not like children in a classroom.

What does that look like in the IT and cybersecurity field? It means paying close attention to the demands of the field and, when new requirements arise, looking internally first. The newer the technology, skill, or qualification, the more likely it is to be more effective to upskill from within rather than hire from a very small external talent pool. It’s important, however, to have forward-thinking leadership in place to actually bring these reskilling plans to fruition and keep them updated to be continually effective as new skills arrive on the scene.

At Velocity Search Group, we’re committed to helping you source exceptional IT, cybersecurity, and tech talent, no matter what your unique needs are. If you’re looking for a transformative leader to spearhead a reskilling initiative, or any other needs, reach out and let us know!

By Daniel Midoneck