In the current economic climate, almost every industry seems to be contemplating or making redundancies but those people remaining after these job cuts are just as important as those who leave. Ignore that at your peril is the advice of the specialist customer and change management company Customer Consulting (CCL).
CCL’s Managing Director, Simon Rustom, commented: “Redundancies are very much in the news. Employers in all sectors of the economy are thinking about whether or not they need to make them and, if so, how to make them with the minimum cost and disruption to their operations.
“While plenty of advice is being directed towards making redundancies or being declared redundant, the people who continue to work for the organisation and deal with its customers are arguably more important – at least to their employers,” he added.
Paul Seymour, as Associate Consultant with CCL, explained: “The people who stay will continue to deal with customers – and so their employers need to ensure that these workers provide a high quality service. Yet these people will be going through the same bereavement-like emotions as their less fortunate colleagues.
“If you’re going to keep up their morale and motivate them, you must recognise this and give them attention,” he said. “Despite all the things you say, they will still feel they are next – so you must give them regular reassurance that they are safe.”
When voluntary redundancy is offered, it is the best people in the organisation who have the confidence to move on and so they tend to leave first, Seymour observed.
He added: “So it is always important to have a rigid selection process that assesses the key skills that are needed going forward; rate everyone against this matrix; be open about the process, and don’t be tempted to compromise the process just to achieve the numbers.”
In Seymour’s view, you can minimise the risk of de-motivating staff if you avoid announcing redundancies on a Friday, since it’s difficult to support staff – both those being made redundant and those who are not – over a weekend.
“Moreover,” added Seymour, “Don’t get a junior member of staff to deliver the news: it must come from a senior executive who is visible throughout the process.”
When it comes to controlling the ‘organisational grapevine’, Seymour advocates an ‘ABC’ approach in that you should:
- Always be available to discuss it.
- Be quick to quash destructive rumours.
- Communicate openly rather than ‘pull down the shutters’, making the issue a regular briefing item.
Furthermore, he recommends creating a project team with representation from across all the organisation’s functions.
This team will co-ordinate the whole procedure, determining the way in which the news is given to the workforce; by whom; where and when, and the support structures for those who are leaving and for those who will be remaining.
“Make sure there’s plenty of support available after the ‘big day’ as well,” said Seymour. “And expect productivity to drop – and account for it.”