Sadly, redundancies are all too common at the moment – so it’s critical that organisations are aware of the legal requirements in this area. But just as important is being aware of how you can use some simple but effective damage limitation techniques that could not only avoid major ER fallout, but also potentially turn the situation to your advantage!
As we know, an organisation’s legal obligations include following a correct procedure. This means consultation (including an at-risk meeting and individual consultation meetings, to discuss the reasons for the redundancies and how they might be avoided). It also means fair selection for redundancy, using a transparent process and fair and objective selection criteria. Fail to do this, and even if no-one brings a claim, those involved will still be extremely naffed off at how they’ve been treated! Those that leave will happily badmouth you to… well, everybody probably. There goes your reputation! Those that survive the cull will more than likely be demoralised, demotivated and generally less effective, which will also be damaging to the organisation.
But it’s not just the legal requirements – also consider the organisation’s ethical obligations to its staff! It may not be compulsory, but offering additional support such as outplacement, career counselling, in-house seminars on topics such as jobhunting, writing CVs and interview skills, providing use of company time and resources for jobhunting (Internet use, stationery, time off for interviews etc.) can make a big difference to the company’s reputation and employee relations, as well as to the affected staff. People who are laid off will have much less bad feeling towards you and may even sing your praises if they feel they’ve been treated well despite the difficult circumstances.
And don’t forget those still in their jobs, who may be suffering ‘survivor syndrome’ – missing their colleagues, dealing with extra workload, still feeling insecure, and possibly even feeling guilty for not being selected for redundancy when their colleagues were! Make sure that you give them the support and reassurance they need too, so that your organisation continues to be productive and profitable despite the job losses.
In short, flip an unpleasant and unfortunate process into something more positive – an opportunity to boost your employee relations and public reputation, and even turn the situation in your favour. It may cost an extra few bob, but when you consider what’s at stake, surely a bit of extra investment can have great returns!