Steps to Managing Redundancy Successfully
Have you ever been in a situation where you are mandated to make tough choices? Have you ever been a bearer of bad news? Do you feel like you are letting people down because of one decision? How do you tell individuals that you are relieving them of their source of livelihood without hurting them? How will an individual react after being told their services are no longer needed? These questions and more come to mind when employers, human resource managers, and organizations are faced with the unenviable task of redundancy. Indeed, it is a difficult position to be in. But then again, leaders are supposed to make difficult decisions especially if it will benefit the organization.
Certain factors may trigger redundancy; a good example is the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic. Organizations, businesses, and companies have had to adjust to the new and current reality. Governments and leaders worldwide imposed certain types of restrictions and preventive measures aimed at fighting the pandemic following advice and data from health practitioners. The fallout from some of these measures has had tremendous negative impacts on Countries’ economies globally. This in turn has caused financial problems for organizations and businesses. Subsequently, while some employees were made to work remotely, other positions and workers had to become redundant.
Dealing with and managing redundancy in the workplace is undoubtedly a herculean task; it entails striking a balance between professionalism and humanity. The challenge lies in considering the employee’s perspective and ensuring that the process is as smooth and pain-free as possible. However, redundancy has been a part and parcel of the world of work from time memorial; therefore, organizations and employers need to be prepared for the inevitable. Thankfully, there has been research on the best way to manage redundancy successfully. Analysts and experts in human relations have come up with suggestions on what to do when faced with redundancy. Thus, this article will give a breakdown of steps to managing redundancy successfully.
Meaning of Redundancy
Redundancy involves the determination and identification of the fact that a position and associated tasks are no longer available or required in an organization or business. In other words, redundancy occurs when a role or project is shut down in an organization due to several reasons; the employees or workers assigned or attached to such roles or projects are directly affected. Technically and most importantly, a position and not an employee is made redundant. Also, affected employees are more or less collateral damages of redundancy.
Redundancy is different from sacking a worker; while employees are sacked because of misconduct, not meeting up to targets, or absenteeism, for example, redundancy is a lawful process that occurs when an organization intends to or has ceased continuing a business for which the employee was hired. In addition, going through the specter of redundancy can be stressful, and doing so without following the law could lead to expensive penalties. Also, redundancy should be the last option after examining and exploring other alternatives completely.
Reasons for Redundancy in an Organization
The following situations and reasons may require redundancy;
- When there is a reduction in the number of employees required to carry out a particular role.
- Redundancy might occur when a branch of an organization or business closes.
- Financial uncertainty, cash flow problems and market fluctuations might make organizations want to save costs and thus consider redundancy.
- Sometimes, a merger between two or more companies can render certain positions redundant.
- Restructuring within a business or organization is another reason for redundancy.
Essential Steps for the Successful Management of Redundancy
The steps below are crucial to managing redundancy successfully;
- Determine which roles will be placed at risk of redundancy
Depending on the reason for redundancy, having a selection pool is the first step in managing the process successfully. It is vital to determine the roles and personnel at risk of redundancy from the pool. If it is a single role that contains a single employee, then it is straightforward. In contrast, if the role involves a number or group of employees, it becomes complicated. Additionally, the determination of roles for redundancy should be done based on the reasons, and devoid of sentiments. Also, you should use available data, statistics, and information for the selection process. The process should be thorough and based on research. For example, an NGO may decide to end an intervention on sexual reproductive health in a particular region because of a crisis. When faced with the prospect of redundancy, it is better to select positions associated with that intervention than administrative staff for example.
- Be fair in the selection and make it genuine without discrimination
Unfortunately, some employers bear grudges against employees they don’t like or connect with. It is natural to have some sort of animosity over an employee you consider disrespectful and who always challenges your authority. However, such sentiments, emotions, and feelings must be kept aside when selecting individuals to make redundant. When you are faced with the prospect of making a single employee redundant from an identified selection pool, make sure that the selection is fair, genuine, and devoid of discrimination. You should dissect data, and compare employees’ work ethic, contributions to the growth of the organization, disciplinary records, and other metrics before making your choice. Generally, you don’t want to be seen as a vindictive boss.
- Follow your organization’s policy and procedure
Most institutions have policies and procedures for almost everything. However, some organizations tend to not make provisions for redundancy in their policy document. For companies and businesses that have such a policy, it is essential to follow it religiously to the very end. This will come in handy when you’re faced with legal battles arising from redundancy. Also, ensure that such a policy is made available to affected employees. It will help you manage the situation successfully.
- Clear and consistent communication
Effective communication arguably solves a reasonable percentage of problems. You must build a clear and simple message to help explain the rationale for the changes and ensure that all stakeholders are delivering the message consistently. Employees respond better to a direct and honest explanation as well as clarity on the current situation, the possible outcomes, and likely next steps. An overcomplicated or inconsistent message can fuel feelings of resentment and mistrust. Where job cuts draw press attention, consider creating a press release to control the narrative and detail the steps you are taking to support departing employees.
- Have meaningful consultations with affected employees
You must consult employees in a redundancy situation. This must be proper and meaningful. The process is fundamental to a fair dismissal for redundancy. If you do not, any redundancies you make will almost certainly be found to be unfair dismissals at an employment tribunal. You should provide affected employees with precise and adequate information about the situation, and you should consider their responses carefully and seriously. The affected employee must be given details of their financial entitlements, including the size of the redundancy payment and if it is enhanced. Additionally, if there is going to be pay-in-lieu-of notice or any outstanding wages and annual leave payment on termination, inform affected employees adequately. Crucially, you should let the aforementioned employees know of their right to appeal the redundancy as well.
- Offer suitable and alternative employment when possible
Ideally, redundancy should be the last option even in situations where an organization is battling with overhead costs. Hence, it is important to research and see if there are alternative positions for the affected employee in your company. When such a role or alternative exists, offer it to them and allow them to make a choice. You shouldn’t be in a hurry to discard employees, especially those who have been committed, loyal, and top performers in the company. However, such positions or roles should be suitable and fair to the affected employee. You shouldn’t offer to demote a Grade level 13 worker to grade level 8 for instance.
- Offer employees time off to look for work
Some employees prefer to stick to a particular field or career path. For example, a software developer may prefer continuing in the IT sector rather than switching to marketing. When such employee is affected by an upcoming redundancy, they may not want to remain in the company even if they will maintain the same grade level and salary in a different unit. Therefore, it is essential to give them time off work to look for employment elsewhere in their preferred field. Most importantly, you shouldn’t deprive them of benefits or placed them on half salary, since it is technically not their fault. You can have them come to work on certain days and make them work for fewer hours where possible. This will enable you to part ways with such workers on good terms.
- Proper timing
There is no such thing as a good time to announce a redundancy consultation, but there is certainly a bad time. Careful consideration of timing can help limit the risk of the organization appearing insensitive and avoid any long-term damage to the organization’s brand. Be sure to let the employees who are being made redundant know before the rest of the workforce, and select a day and time that will allow the affected individuals to absorb the news and respond. When dealing with larger change programs, try where possible to ensure that the message is delivered to all individuals at the same time and create a strategy to deal with those not available.
- Show compassion, empathy, and listen
You need to show compassion and empathy when dealing with an employee affected by redundancy. Although you’re supposed to maintain professionalism, follow due process, and remain focused on your approach, you should listen and pay attention to the feedback from affected employees. Redundancy is without a doubt a difficult and emotional experience for both you and the employee receiving the news. Don’t be worried about being compassionate and showing empathy for the plight of the redundant employee. Also, make sure you let the employees know that you have an open door and are willing to listen and provide answers to any questions they have, even if it takes time.