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Humankind | 19 May 2020

Restructuring with humanity

How to go about making the hardest decision to reduce the size of your team.

As a number of us breathed a sigh of relief to be moving to Alert Level 2, there are many employers who are having to make the tough, heartbreaking decision to cut costs and make people redundant. Whilst Alert Level 2 means a number of businesses can reopen, this comes with increased operating costs and uncertainty about revenue.  Without a doubt, many businesses face a long slow crawl to get back to pre-Covid revenue levels.

At Humankind we believe that good employers lead with humanity, drawing on all the good things that make us human. This is never more important than when making decisions that could impact people’s jobs. If you are facing difficult decisions, please remember:

1) Be Vulnerable

Now is not the time to be tough or distant.  It’s ok to admit that this situation is awful and that you wish you didn’t have to make these decisions.

2) Lead with empathy

If you were in your employee’s position, what would you like to be told, how would you like to be made to feel, how would you like to be treated? 

3) Involve employees early

Seek their views on how your business could run more efficiently before considering redundancies.

4) Act swiftly

Sitting on a decision won’t make it easier or better.  Chances are your employees will know things are bad and will want to know what’s going on.  It’s far better to talk to your employees about what you are considering, than leaving them worrying about it.

5) One size fits one

Consider your employee’s circumstances before consulting them about the proposed changes, right down to whether are they working from home, with family members in the same space as them, or living by themselves with limited support.

6) Engage with your people

As you go through the consultation process, engage in genuine two way dialogue with your employees, taking the time to ensure they understand the reasons for your proposal, that it’s not about them or their performance, and listening to what they have to say.

7) Offer practical support

Beyond offering EAP, how can you prepare employees to look for a new job and enable them to market themselves.  Who in your network or industry is looking for employees?  Are there any benefits that you offer that could make a big difference if the employee retained them, even for a little while, such as keeping their work laptop.

8) Agree on comms with your people

Ask employees how they would like the final decision to be announced to the team, what they need during their notice period and how they can depart with dignity.

9) Communicate, communicate, communicate

Be open and transparent, sharing as much detail as you can about the reasons for the change and the process you are following. 

10) Engage your future workforce - everyone is impacted

Everyone in your team will be impacted by change, even those who have a job may be losing a good work friend or could be worried about their own role and the possibility of further cuts. Make sure you reach out to them, check that they are ok and identify ways to motivate and reinvigorate them.