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Redundancy misfire: Communicating to the survivors

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HC Online | 26 Jun 2012, 12:00 AM Agree 0
Amid widespread redundancies, for the ‘survivors’ of the action there needs to be strategies and measures in place to restore the workplace back to its previous state, or at least a state of optimum productivity and engagement.
  • Erica Collins | 26 Jun 2012, 03:32 PM Agree 0
    The real cost of redundancies is enormous on key factors of employee engagement such as trust and commitment, and have long term impact. There are ways to avoid redundancies which actually increase employee engagement. But if the organisation is unwilling or unable to fully avoid these, then the importance of communication, as outlined in this article cannot be overstated.
    In 2 recent webinars I attended on employee engagement from Halogen and Right Management reinforced the importance of communication as a driver of employee engagement even during difficulties.
  • Geoff Nix | 26 Jun 2012, 05:19 PM Agree 0
    Agree with the broad thrust of this article. Also recognise the importance of giving the 'survivors' the tools to continue managing 100% of the pre-retrenchment workload with what could be 90% of the workforce.
  • Erica Collins | 28 Jun 2012, 04:38 PM Agree 0
    Hopefully Geoff an organisation retrenching staff will not be expecting 100% of the pre-retrenchment work to be done. They may still want the same results, but it will need to be achieved differently. This may be discontinuing a unprofitable part of the business or merging two areas. What is important is that there is genuine rationale behind the action that is explained and that everyone can understand (because it isn't hiding another agenda)
  • Bernie Althofer | 29 Jun 2012, 11:51 AM Agree 0
    Increased pressures being placed on public and private sector organisations due to economic issues seems to be creating situations some tough decisions are necessary. In some case, workers may understand the logic for such drastic actions. However, in some cases, there will be increased workloads placed on the 'survivors', and as the 'cuts' increase, the pool of 'survivors' decrease.

    Increased expectations are placed on the survivors to do more with less, and for some, feelings of distress will increase. As individuals feel increased pressure, there is a flow on impact to all levels of service delivery that ultimately impact on the bottom line.

    Providing not only the tools required to do their job, but also to manage the workload, and the complex issues involved in workplace relations, particularly in times of continual change and organisational upheaval. Everyone in the workplace will be doing in tough. Unfortunately, taking a slash and burn approach without looking for savings that can be made in 'processes' and systems might only add to the angst. For example, I recently had a discussion with an employee who left an organisation because of bullying. He received a payout of $350,000 but indicated that the organisation has spent $1.2million over 6 years in administrative costs in relation to the matter. A more efficient process or system may have substantially reduced the administrative costs. It is also interesting to consider what happens when workloads are redistributed in cases like this and the increased pressure placed on those workers.

    It does seem that a good communication strategy is essential. Potential claims for unlawful dismissal may be reduced if there is a consultation process and a communication strategy. It also helps decision makers to know who is doing what jobs, what the relevance of those jobs are, and the consequences if either the person doing the job or the job is made redundant. Sometimes is critical to actually ask workers what improvements can be made, and get them involved. It might well be the case that if they are involved and identify improvements or even savings that can be made through job redundancies, they may be more understanding and accepting when the hard decisions are actually made.
  • Bernie Althofer | 30 Jun 2012, 10:01 AM Agree 0
    A quick lesson in what not to do when announcing 'terminations'. Don't call a snap staff meeting, present the new organisational chart, tell people that they are finishing today, and say "Well at least I still have my job" and then promptly leave the meeting. After a day of tears, consoling, and a realisation that even some of the key people required to perform critical tasks had been 'removed', concerns turned to fears as individuals turned their thoughts to the lack of empathy being shown by the executive who announced the new org chart.

    Consultation may not change the outcome regarding job loss but it may soften the body blows if staff are involved in the process. Sudden announcements that are based on 'directives' may have unexpected consequences in the form of claims of unfair or unlawful dismissals, through to stress claims. The entire process has to be managed from the day there is recognition that budgetary constraints have to be implemented through to letting staff go.

    It is a difficult time and process for everyone involved and leaving the 'survivors' guessing as to who will be next, is not going to be beneficial to anyone.
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