Q. I have recently been informed that our company will be making a number of redundancies, and the HR department itself could be under threat.
I am in a difficult position where I need to keep up morale, but I am also considering looking for work elsewhere. What is the best way to keep my options open?
A. This is a challenging position to be in and I can understand how difficult this must be. The HR function enables an organisation to meet its goals and objectives through the provision of guidance and support across all matters relating to its employees.
Understandably, employees and managers alike will be looking to you for support and guidance, and a positive attitude and professional behaviour is imperative in ensuring a smooth transition.
It is imperative that you are a business partner to both line managers and senior managers or executives in managing both the strategy and execution of the plan regarding the affected employees.
Similarly, you need to be the champion for the employees, representing their concerns and acting in their best interests while maintaining your objectivity.
Some key points to note are to remain professional while at work, and maintain your objectivity and support of the business in what would have been a difficult decision to make.
If feasible, set up interviews onsite for redundant employees. You could consider using a specialist outplacement agency – outplacement counselling and retraining is tax deductible in respect of all redundant employees, including part-time workers. Also, investigate the possibility of re-deployment and rehire within the business.
Highlight the importance of being prepared to consider a wide range of jobs. This includes offering guidance on job application forms and interview techniques, searching and following up suitable vacancies.
In addition, set up group workshops for the affected employees and include sessions on interview techniques, job application tips and researching strategies in their job hunt.
Ensure you remain open and approachable, remembering the range of emotions staff will be going through and will be looking to you as a source of stability.
The most important thing is to be seen as supporting both the business and the affected employees, and treating those affected by offering empathy and practical solutions and support – this will go a long way in keeping up the morale across the business and within your own department.
From a personal perspective, you need to be preparing yourself for the possibility of further redundancies which could affect the HR department and ultimately your own position within the company. It is essential you ensure your resume is up-to-date including your work experience, skills, courses and education.
You may like to start visiting specialist HR agencies and registering as a candidate of interest.
Also, ask your friends to keep you updated on opportunities where they work and to keep an eye on the internal vacancies and job listing boards for opportunities at an appropriate entry level.
Network. If you haven’t already, join professional associations that will provide you with the opportunity to meet other HR professionals. You will find these on the internet.
Finally, have an open and honest discussion with your manager about your concerns. In most cases, they will also be concerned about their own positions and role within the business. Once again, reiterate that you will remain professional and objective throughout this process and act in accordance with business needs.
Most importantly, remember the three Ps: professionalism, positivity and presentation. Manage the situation, remain professional and start to consider your own options outside of your company and take steps to be prepared in the event that you need to look for employment.
By Rachel Hainsworth, HR Partners