Why HR shouldn’t treat everyone the same during major change

One employment lawyer says HR should invest additional time and resources into specific areas of the organisation.

Why HR shouldn’t treat everyone the same during major change

When it comes to executing major change initiatives or mass redundancies, HR professionals often treat every employee the same out of fairness – however, one industry lawyer insists the intuitive approach is actually a mistake.

“You’ll know going into a process where issues are likely to arise and just managing every area and every individual in the same way doesn’t work,” says Hamish Kynaston, partner at Buddle Findlay.

“Employers should be more strategic about putting additional energy and resources into managing the hot spots and not worrying about how that’s perceived from an equity perspective,” he continues. “That’s where your issues are so it makes sense that you want to invest more time and energy there.”

Wellington-based Kynaston says hot spots vary from organisation to organisation and can be individuals, teams or entire areas.

“It could be individuals who you know are likely to be very upset, angry or see it in the wrong way but it could also be a really controversial area,” says Kynaston.

“It could be an area where there are a large number of union members so it might be perceived in a certain way or it could be an area where people have just been hired, given promises or given assurances that their roles will continue – but then there’s been a change in thinking.

“It could be for any number of reasons,” he continues. “It could come down to individuals, it could be due to things that have happened in the business, it could be that the reasoning is a bit light it, or it could be that there isn’t a lot of rationale but it’s just seen as the logical place to start.”

While Kynaston stresses that every employee has a right to be treated fairly, he says it’s perfectly legal to offer additional support to certain people.

“There is a base level of fairness of course that everyone must receive but I don’t think that it means everyone must be treated the same,” he says.

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