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The Big Story: How to give the redundancy boot

HR professionals are playing a critical role in the redundancy process as companies move to downsize.

Video transcript below:

Stephanie Zillman:  Hello, I’m Stephanie Zillman and you are watching the Big Story on HC Online. Companies are downsizing in the face of more global economic turmoil and they are relying on HR to play a critical role.  Dr. Hilary Armstrong from the Institute of Executive Coaching says it’s vital to get the redundancy process right.

Hilary Armstrong, Institute of Executive Coaching
Hilary Armstrong:  The two or three things that I always say to people is be upfront and open with it.  Don’t pretend, say there’s bad news around, be clear that it’s not about them personally or their capability, particularly their skill and capability in the job.
 
Denise Moore, Medibank
Denise Moore:  The truth is you’ve actually got to structure for change and assume that there will be change and you’ve got people that can deal with the stuff that’s just going to come out of left field periodically and in this environment we’ve got company acquisitions, constant mergers, integration, whole new business streams to design, it just keeps coming.
 
Brian Hartmann, Retired Railcorp HR Director
Brian Hartmann:  There are lots of times when organisations downsize in order to make business savings.  But the downstream effect of that can be the talent loss and the cost of changing that talent or getting back the sort of skills that are needed and I think in HR we can provide lots of support and advice about the best way to go about doing that.
 
Stephanie Zillman:  Brian Hartmann, Retired HR Director of Railcorp says managing the redundancy process is one of the most challenging tasks any HR professional can do.  
 
Brian Hartmann:  I was involved with the Department of, a major restructure of Department of Education and the toughest thing emotionally and sort of professionally was to go out and spend months on end actually working with another colleague when we were closing regional offices throughout New South Wales and dealing with people who were out of a job.
 
David Bowsher, BBC
David Bowsher:  The biggest HR challenge I have ever had was working at AMI Music at the point it was taken over by Terra Firma.  And that was simply because it the company Terra Firma and I had to in a very short period of time [a general view] of the company and announce they were restructuring the totality of the company and as part of that, we would overall as global company lose a third of the work force.
 
Stephanie Zillman:  So how can HR professionals overcome  the challenges associated with managing redundancies?  Denise Moore of Medibank says honest communication is the key.
 
Denise Moore:  I think that’s the key message.  Don’t keep pretending it will all go back to business as usual tomorrow.  It won’t.
Hilary Armstrong:  Be very clear about what the organisation is doing in terms of you know the processes like out placement and support that they are giving the person.
 
Brian Hartmann:  Changed management involves obviously enormous spectrum of people and talent and skills to be successful.  And so the point of all of that is to ensure that there is great communication.  I think communicate, communicate, communicate throughout the whole process is the way to go.
 
Stephanie Zillman:  For more on handling redundancies and other industry news, click around HC Online.  I am Stephanie Zillman and I will see you again soon with the Big Story.