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How to Handle Mass Redundancy

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In response to news that William Hill is to cut close up to 700 stores, resulting in mass redundancies, Helen Jamieson, Founder of Jaluch HR and Training has commented:

“Large scale redundancies for organisations are extremely challenging, stressful and a logistical nightmare too. Across my 20 years running an HR business I’ve seen both the good and the bad when it comes to how organisations step up to the plate during tough times like William Hill are facing . The good don’t just create a project management spreadsheet, tick the necessary legal boxes then start to send out confirmation of dismissals. Instead they take a holistic view of the situation and further down the line reap the rewards for that. Those rewards come in the form of reduced grievances and tribunal claims of unfair dismissal, a quicker return to engagement and productivity of those who continue to be employed, less anger, frustration and bitterness expressed across social media, greater respect for the leadership, both internally and externally and minimised customer backlash that results from negative publicity.

“One business many years ago ignored my advice about how to go about halving their workforce. They took the formulaic legal route, ignoring the people dimension. The consequences were dire. The majority of those not dismissed lost so much trust and confidence with the company that within 12 months of the redundancies all those who had survived the ‘cull’ had resigned. That business never recovered and subsequently liquidated.

“Great companies work with elected staff representatives to identify good practices and opportunities throughout the process. Lazy companies use elected reps to tick a box. They place empathy and compassion as high on the list as knowledge of employment law when selecting those who will conduct consultation and dismissal meetings. Lazy companies just put bums on seats.

“Great companies identify ways in which they can support their ex-employees transition to new roles through cv and interview training, personal presentation training and, where possible, other training too. Lazy companies just send out p45s. They communicate endlessly and put all their energies into finding ways to support their staff and ease the transition for the unlucky ones to new roles. Lazy companies pride themselves on fast efficient project management irrespective of the impact on people. They only find out too late that business success and longevity can be catastrophically affected by such laziness.

“I’m waiting to see what approach William Hill is going to take.