Here are 10 best practice tips I advise employers when they are faced with the unpleasant task of retrenching or making their employees redundant.
These tips will help to preserve a healthy employer brand and reputation which are critical to the ongoing sustainability of any employer.
1. Treat all exiting staff well on the way out.
My firm conducted research that showed that 88 percent of employees were still likely to talk poorly of their former employer 13 weeks after being laid off - especially if they had not been treated well on their departure.
There is an old marketing adage, that people are more inclined to complain and moan, than praise. If you are peeved, you will post. Peeved former employees post to Seek and Glassdoor and others. You don’t want that.
2. Clearly explain the rationale for the redundancies – that the decision is not personal to the redundant individual, but instead it’s business issues.
According to the USA Department of Labor, the average person will switch careers (not just jobs but entire careers) 14 times in their work life and 15 – 20 times according to Forbes. So help your employees who have just been told they have been made redundant or retrenched that it’s not personal. This alone will make them feel better about themselves, their situation and the speed at which they can move on in their careers.
3. Give assurances to the surviving staff that the business is expected to improve by taking difficult measures and that their jobs are safe.
We suggest that you don’t make any promises to surviving staff that this is the end of the round of layoffs. However it is important you have a clear outline of the plan and genuinely communicate that the business is doing everything it can to not have further redundancies or retrenchments.
Having treated your departing employees with dignity and support, it also assures your surviving staff that they will also be treated with dignity and support in the event they may also face a layoff in the future.
4. Assure the survivors that management has been instructed to escalate cases of any increased workload that cannot be handled and capacity/process remedies will be considered where appropriate.
As a result of a round of layoffs, it’s often the case that the remaining staff are burdened with extra work that their former colleagues used to do. Surviving staff often feel a sense of overwhelm. This is further compounded by the survivor’s fear that if they were to say anything, their job may be put in jeopardy.
By giving staff permission to vent and communicate, the business can clear blockages and get on with business. If you do not provide the opportunity to communicate or vent, it will inevitably cause presenteeism, bad mouthing, disengagement or worse still, harm to others or self harm.
5. Offer outplacement support to all departing employees.
According to CareerSupport365 research:
- 90 percent of departing employees do not receive any outplacement or career transition support upon being laid off.
- 89 percent of those laid off employees said they would have felt 'much more positive' towards their employer had their former employer provided them with outplacement or career transition support.
- 95 percent of people would have felt ‘far less inclined’ to post adverse comments about their own former employers.
Knowing this, it just makes good business sense to offer outplacement services to all departing employees and letting survivors know that their former colleagues were provided with career transition support.
6. Pre-empt any adverse impacts on staff, morale, and productivity.
In case there is adverse publicity, have a communication plan that rolls out to staff. Think of having regular 'brown bag' lunches, videos issued by the Executive, Department staff meetings and so on.
Ask staff that they can safely state how they are feeling, have their comments heard and acted upon by management and the Executive Leadership Team where possible.
7. Consider team building activities to form new and productive relationships.
New relationship need to be built, replacing old relationships that have ‘passed on’. Put together team activities so as to build trust, respect, new know-how and lines of communication.
8. Ensure that social media and traditional media channels are given enough information to reduce the impact of gossip, threats, from poaching recruiters and even taunts from former anonymous staff.
Make sure that your communications team is feeding relevant and platforms with your news and message. If you want the message to be what you want it to be, then you need to drive the content.
9. Appoint resources to monitor social media and employer review sites like Seek and Glassdoor and respond openly, authentically, and immediately.
Wherever possible, in dignified and respectful ways, answer adverse comments - rather than let them fester and at worse case spread unanswered.
You need to drive your employer brand and not leave it to employees to do so uncontrolled!
10. Constantly inform surviving staff and other stakeholders how the company’s performance is improving.
Whether it may be good and bad news, it’s all important. Let all the staff know how the company is performing so there are no surprises. The more transparent you are, the less surprised people will be and the more creative many will become in helping its performance improve, especially when they are positively engaged and feeling like they are all in this together.
These 10 tips will enrich the engagement of surviving staff and improve sustainability of your business and help to preserve a healthy employer brand and reputation which are critical during these uncertain times.
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About the author:
Greg Weiss is one of Australia’s most renowned career coaches. He is the author of “So You Got A Job, WTF Is Next”. The book prescribes a proven, practical 7 step guideline for new employees so they succeed, rather than fail their probation periods and beyond. Find out more about the book at https://www.wtfisnext.wtf/
He is the Founder and Director of Onboff an online training and coaching platform that helps HR specialists, coaches and recruiters to deliver exceptional onboarding and offboarding experiences for employees.
Greg also hosts The Keep: The Employee Experience podcast and runs CareerSupport365.