Making Staff Redundant: top tips for achieving fairness and reducing risk to the firm

Why not read our latest blog post, Long-term absence dismissal not always unfair?

At risk of redundancyOur White Paper Redundancy – get it right! is very popular – 7,500 visitors have read it in the last 12 months.  We’ve also worked with several business over the last few months to implement restructure, which has in many cases resulted in redundancies.  And we’ve taken phone calls from employees across the UK who’ve been placed at risk or are being made redundant asking for help and clarification.

Whilst we can’t really help individuals  – we only work with employers –  it got me thinking.  Why are employees phoning us?  Does it mean that firms are not running redundancy processes correctly?  They’re clearly not TimelessTime clients!  Perhaps guidelines are needed to ease the process.    Based on that, here are six top tips on handling staff in a redundancy situation.

1. Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them
Employees will be scared, upset, angry and confused when told they are at risk of redundancy.  They don’t hear all that they are told and the rumour mill will be running at full speed.  Open communications are very important.  Let staff know who they can talk to, and make it clear that they can ask questions at any point.  Don’t make them wait for a formal meeting.

2. Explain the need for the restructure
Whilst employees may not like what they hear, they will be more likely to accept it if they understand the reason.  If a firm is going through a sticky patch and needs to downsize, this will already be apparent to staff before any formal restructure is announced.  Tell employees what the restructuring will do for the firm – you must give hope to those who will remain.  Many firms lurch from one round of redundancies to the next.  Do your homework and get the restructuring right first time.

3. Follow the process
There is a set process that must be followed when undertaking any redundancy and you should have this captured within your company procedures.  If this is not done, you leave yourself open to shouts of unfair dismissal and tribunals can automatically judge a redundancy unfair if you don’t follow your own process.  By following the process, you will ensure that you provide your employees with the relevant information at the appropriate time.

4. Select fairly and transparently
Selecting who will go is difficult.  Who to select, how to select?  The selection criteria used will be determined by the requirements of the restructure and the competencies needed to support the on-going business.  Having determined the competencies needed in the new structure it will become clear which roles are important.  Make a list and measure everyone in the group against the criteria.   Those with the least points are the employees who will be placed at risk and may ultimately be made redundant.  See our blog entitled Demystifying Mixed Contract Redundancies for a definition of redundancy and for more detail at this stage.

5. Provide support
Many people that are to be made redundant will have been out of the jobs market for many years.  For some it may be an opportunity to stop work altogether, for others they will need to find a new role.  As an employer, you can help in several ways. You can provide a ‘job shop’ run externally to provide CV development, interview skills training and personality and ability testing to help employees understand their strengths and prepare them for employment outside your firm.  The support you give staff that you make redundant will reflect on you as an employer on both those leaving and those staying.

6. Remember those employees who have been made redundant are ambassadors of your firm.
Whether you like it or not employees who leave you will have a strong opinion about you as a manager and you as a firm.   It’s a fact of life that people love to communicate negative information to anyone who’ll listen.  Don’t give people the opportunity to ‘bad mouth’ your firm.  One person out there being uncomplimentary about your firm is one too many! Mount a PR campaign to tell the truth – that you are sorry to have to let folk go, that you are providing all possible assistance to those made redundant and that the firm is now set fair for future prosperity.  Do make sure however, that it is all true!

This blog doesn’t tell you how to go about the whole process.  Rather, it’s been written as a list of things that are important to employees.  My advice to you is don’t get caught up in the moment – determine a process and follow the process completely.  Every manager needs to make changes in their firm at some stage or other, and that may mean shedding heads.  But this can be done in a sensitive and fair manner.  A sensitive and fair approach will avoid the need for your employees to ask ‘why me?’ and then ‘am I being treated fairly?’ followed swiftly by ‘can I take a case to Employment Tribunal?’.

If you would like TimelessTime to support your restructure, including job shop provision give us a call on 01444 810 454 or 0203 700 3014.

 

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