Colbea Business Advisor James Cracknell shares a useful insight into redundancy from the employers perspective.
Currently much of the focus and discussion around redundancy is how it impacts the person leaving the business. The implications for the employer are rarely discussed in the same empathetic way. We assume, wrongly, that the cut for the one wielding the knife is painless, that the benefit will be achieved with emotional coldness, and that the emotional turbulence for those who avoid this fate will be a sense of relief that outweighs any grief that they may feel. There are two sides to every coin and outcomes in both that leave a legacy of distrust, bitterness, and emotional baggage that rarely is fully emptied. As an employer I have let people go, as an employee I have been made redundant, as an advisor and mentor I have held the hands of both.
In our current situation we are hopeful that things will improve, that demand will come back into the system and that drastic measures will and can be avoided. This is the hope but according to the British Chamber of Commerce who surveyed 7,400 firms the reality could be very different. 29% of these firms are saying that they are looking to cut jobs within the next three months, an unprecedented amount of pain being administered in a short period of time.
Furlough is due to end on the 31st of October and could be a real nightmare for many people who are being unfurled. The hope is that this will be managed, that consultations will exceed statutory guidelines, that discussions, choices, and options will be explored to the full. As an employer if you are already thinking about this, I would urge you to open up the debate, to extend the conversations and avoid the excessive rumour mill that undermines confidence, and zaps energy.
There may be a few things that may surprise you – the first, that people will be expecting this, more people than you think. If you are making these changes make sure that you present them with as many options as you can. Secondly, that those who survive are less likely to show you loyalty despite you standing by them. Each job loss erodes trust, as an employer you need that trust to help the business survive and grow. Being seen as fair, as just in your decision and clear and open on the support you offer, this can go a long way to helping those left behind to feel part of the future.
If you are letting older employees go then emphasise that this is not the end of the road, talk about those who took this change as a catalyst for a bigger shift in their lives, a personal journey towards fulfilment. If you can find ways to facilitate access to industry networks that may help the exiting employees to find mentors, maintain connections and seek new opportunities then that is great but emphasise how change may feel chaotic but past chaos lays opportunity.
Finally do one more thing. Open the mind of the exiting employee to the possibility of self-employment, either as a freelancer or as someone who might want to grow their own business. Guide the exiting employee to the support that they might need to make that a reality.
Here in Essex – Colbea are delivering six workshops from the 22nd of September that are aimed at providing the support transitioning workers need to set up their own business. Funded by the European Union through the European Social Fund these courses are delivered face to face and take the participant on a personal learning journey that leads to the possibility of self-employment and/or the creation of a business. Details of the course can be found at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/advance-into-business-tickets-90127280121
As an employer letting people go is the stuff of nightmares. Take our advice, no matter how hard it is for you the pain is even greater for the person on the receiving end. If you present the change in a way that guides people towards opportunity you will give them a sense that life will go on. No matter how uncomfortable it may make you feel to prolong the support, to go the extra mile, those left behind will at least see you doing the right thing.