In the current media frenzy over the threat of a recession, human resources (HR) must brace itself for redundancies in the coming months. But are we all over-reacting as suggested by our ranter? Are we convincing ourselves of impending doom so that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Any downturn in 2008 is likely to mean a squeeze on HR budgets. But as our ‘credit crunch’ feature points out, when the going gets tough, HR can choose to be either a victim or part of the solution. Perhaps it’s time for the profession to stand firm against calls from the top for a headcount review and possible recruitment freezes.
If redundancies are required, HR teams need to make sure they are up to speed with the latest case law which, in effect, forces employers to be more transparent about proposed cuts.
And now, for the first time, thanks to a landmark ruling in September, UK employers will be forced to involve both unions and employees in the decision-making process.
On the back of this, warnings are inevitably coming thick and fast from lawyers about handling redundancies in the right way. Traditionally, employers have only had to consult on ways of reducing the impact of the closure. But that is no longer enough. Not only should consultations start earlier but, most importantly, HR will need to give more careful thought to the reasons it gives for redundancies.
The penalties for failure are severe and will force a culture change across the UK as the unions delight in their increased opportunities to challenge the rationale for closures that lead to redundancies.
HR must now step up its efforts to minimise any negative media stories about employee misery over job cuts, by doing what it does best – communicating effectively and following the correct procedures.
EMI recently got caught out by failing to do either – potentially to the tune of tens of millions of pounds. Don’t let your organisation be next on the list.