Turning downsizing and restructuring events into positive ROI

by 22 Aug 2012

Is it possible to create positive results for retention, company reputation and brand equity following difficult events? Bruce Anderson believes so, and provides his tips.

Restructuring and downsizing initiatives can expose some hidden dangers for companies. For instance, reputation and brand equity may be hit hard, plus there’s the ongoing challenge of retaining the right staff. However, with effective management it’s possible to create positive results for retention, company reputation and brand equity – even after the most difficult events.

The key to creating a positive outcome during career transitioning is to have a proactive approach to ROI. When implementing a career transition (CT) program, companies need to have an acute awareness of its broader implications, including the needs of the contemporary multi-generational workforce, in order to help turn the potential negative impacts of restructuring in to something which benefits the business and its stakeholders.

Some of the questions companies should ask themselves when planning a restructuring event include:


  • Is the quality of the CT program our business is providing the very best it can be?
  • How can we retain our top performers as well as doing the right thing by those employees who will be undergoing career transitions?
  • What should be done to ensure that we remain an employer of choice and maintain our good standing in the eyes of current and ex-employees?


There are five critical components for the success of a career transition program.

Planning wisely

A restructuring event can be all-consuming and can often appear as a ‘crisis’ event. However if companies adopt a long term vision, they can minimise the challenges of restructuring by planning strategically earlier in the process.

Another way companies can relieve some of the pain points in the transition process is by collaborating with a (CT) professional. A CT partner can help develop comprehensive pre-event planning strategies in addition to change management, communication and service delivery plans. This brings about more effective downsizing strategies and a better assurance that affected employees – as well as those who remain – stay productive, committed and focused.

Timely, relevant and clear communication

Communicate at the beginning, middle and end of the event in order to minimise lack of productivity, de-motivation, worry and frustration amongst staff.

Consider the communication channels and ensure that there is timely communication with all relevant parties, including line managers. Help them prepare by providing them with necessary information, key messages and answers to expected questions.

Ensure you have conversations with key talent the business wants to retain and seek their feedback. Making staff feel valued is a good way to make sure that they remain engaged during the event and do not become de-motivated after.

Explain what career transition entails and what to expect

Be clear with employees on what career transition is and why the business provides it, and encourage them to utilise it. Have your CT provider on site to give an overview of what career transition is all about, and to brief the transitioning people on how they can engage in the program and how best to maximise the services.

Appropriate career transition programs for different employees

Now, for the first time our workplaces have a distinct multigenerational workforce which includes Traditionals, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y employees, each with different needs and expectations. The most effective CT programs offer a mix of high-touch and high-tech resources, allowing the business to provide appropriate support for different groups working in the organisation.

Measure and analyse your results

Partner with your CT provider to collect, evaluate and analyse relevant data. Use this as a tool to increase ROI in the future as well as to reflect on any improvements that could be made during the CT process.

Career transition services are more of an investment in a company’s people than ever before—both for those who depart and for those who remain. In the future, proactive organisations will work ever more closely with their career transition partners to create services which are strongly oriented towards creating organisational benefits rather than purely limiting damages.

By viewing career transition as a vital investment, organisations will build a stronger employer brand and therefore have stronger talent pools from which to build their business. When done well, career transition can not only help your company avoid negative consequences, but also create positive value.


About the author

Bruce Anderson is Managing Director of Lee Hecht Harrison Australia. Lee Hecht Harrison offers talent development solutions throughout the entire employee lifecycle – from onboarding, through career and leadership development, engagement and retention to redeployment and transition.


Most Read

  • Placing value on valued employees

    John Day, CEO of Smartequity, explains how a well-designed employee remuneration strategy firmly anchored in business objectives helps organisations attract, retain and motivate employees

  • Opinion: HR on the edge of a cliff

    Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith outlines how HR will be at the heart of business disruption – but it must first reinvent itself

  • Raising the performance bar

    Performance management is one critical component of HR’s mandate that is getting a helping hand from technology. HRD chats to Nathan Reynolds, Ceridian's director of sales, Australia & New Zealand, to find out how