A few months ago, I wrote a blog from my sofa whilst watching Sky News. It was the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic and the world was fraught with uncertainty. Businesses were beginning to come to us to ask for advice on redundancy. 13 long weeks on, and with the Job Retention Scheme beginning to wind down, we are beginning to get asked questions about redundancy again.
Our advice always starts with a simple question - what other alternatives have you considered? Making someone's position redundant shouldn't be done lightly, it comes with the risk of long term disengagement, damage to the employer brand . . . and once you've paid the redundancy settlements, it's not always that cheap either (especially when you consider you'll need to recruit when the market picks up).
In our experience considering all the alternatives available before committing to redundancies can enhance employee engagement, productivity and commitment. Here are a few alternatives to consider:
Are short-term reductions in working hours an option? Over the last few years, this approach has been used by a number of companies to mitigate the potential impact of redundancy and preserve employment. Individuals have been offered part time hours as an alternative to redundancy. This approach has been adopted in the motor trade to good effect. It could be done in terms of shorter daily operating hours or offering a 4 day working week.
Consider Job Sharing. Job sharing arrangements allow multiple people to fill one job role. Its benefits include saving costs on payroll and encouraging training and teamwork.
Look into career breaks. Career breaks or sabbaticals are more popular than ever and employees at all levels, across all age ranges are increasingly exploring them. If you offer career breaks as an option, then your valued employees can take a break, with zero pay, and come back to work for you in 3, 6 or even 12 months time when the economic situation has changed. This will not only prove effective in reducing operating costs but could also enable a boost to employee engagement in the long term.
Explore temporary pay-freezes and potential pay reductions. This will be unpopular for many reasons but, as an employer, your main commitment should be to preserve employment for as many people as possible - reducing pay or stopping pay rises is a good way to manage costs and preserve employment for the majority.
We're passionate about working with businesses to enable them to manage their staff effectively in challenging times. We can help you too by exploring all the options and alternatives. We can assist you to do it right and in a way that wont impact your business negatively in the long term.