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Supporting Employees through Restructuring, Redeployment, and Redundancy

As normality returned in the world of work, many organizations are busy with redundancy, restructuring, and redeployment. Read our tips for supporting your workforce through the changes.

Many businesses have been forced to redesign their organizations, introducing new roles and responsibilities. In a historic stretch of time, global unemployment rates were at the lowest they have ever been. Then, COVID-19 hit, and they skyrocketed—seemingly overnight. Layoffs and mass redundancies ensued across all sectors. Who could have predicted this stark new reality? As normality returned, organizations rebuilt their workforces, particularly those in technology industries who recruited en masse.

Organizations are now seeing a rebound effect and are faced once again with a series of layoffs. Given the upheaval of the last few years, people are more vulnerable than ever when faced with losing their jobs so how can employers support those remaining in and exiting our organizations and move the needle from what can be a traumatic event, to one that is a more manageable experience?

As leaders and managers, we need to adapt, transform, and lead with more humanity and empathy to enable our people to thrive. Leaders' and organizations’ reputations can be defined by the way in which they have managed their people, customers, and stakeholders during difficult periods.

Thriving people (those prospering in terms of their health, wealth, and career prospects) are twice as likely to be found in organizations that effectively balance people and business concerns in decision-making. Numerous studies show them to be more successful in areas such as health, relationships, and work performance.

Recently, I have spoken with several organizations seeking advice and support in helping those at risk (with potential opportunities for redeployment), and those being made redundant. With uncertainty and anxiety common, there is a prevailing realization that although not a statutory obligation, organizations have a ‘human’ responsibility to help their people navigate these difficult times.

Restructures are 3 times more likely to be successful if they follow a structured process. Organizations need to have an effective talent management strategy so that as the business is repositioned based on global or market changes, the talent can also be repositioned effectively.

Acting promptly is not just good for people but also for businesses in the longer term to realize results and ensure you can remotivate, retrain, and retain employees.

Leaders' and organizations’ reputations can be defined by the way in which they have managed their people, customers, and stakeholders during difficult periods.

Here are some ideas I have discussed with clients facing organizational restructuring and redesign:

1. Upskilling, reskilling, and redeployment

One of the biggest opportunities and challenges is upskilling and reskilling. Many leaders are reviewing their business models, strategy, and what is needed for success. How will this impact jobs in the coming months and in the longer term?

Firstly, leaders should undertake a strategic job analysis to determine the skills and competencies needed in the new business model or strategy. In some instances, the key skills may be the same in a newly defined role, and in other cases, the job requirements may be totally different, but having a detailed job description matched to competencies will help find the right people to fit these roles.

For example, where old job tasks are discontinued, assessing experience and skills in that area becomes meaningless so in those cases, behavioral and personality fit would become more important. Understanding your workforce is not just looking at people’s existing skillsets and performance or listening to subjective feedback but identifying measurable, data-led insights that also account for potential, so employees fit in longer-term strategic objectives.

Look for opportunities for how you can maintain the knowledge and experience you have, rather than being in a position where you need to hire externally at a future date. Be transparent about what type of redeployment opportunities may be available to employees; use objective assessment to understand individual and group strengths and development areas as well as future potential capabilities. Armed with this information, everyone understands the reskilling pathways and critical experiences that people will need to get to move from A to B. This facilitates transformation and more agile movement across the organization or indeed the knowledge that exiting is the best strategy to pursue a career elsewhere.

Point people in the direction of any internal or external learning and development resources that may be available to them to address specific skills gaps. Identify if there are any other opportunities to provide training in core skills such as coaching for managers which would be useful for many people remaining in or indeed exiting the organization.

Giving people a direction, a sense of control, and a purpose to work towards will enable them to more successfully emerge in a stronger position in the future, no matter what their current situation is.

2. Provide practical job-hunting support

In my experience, one of the most helpful ways that you can support people at risk, who are competing for redeployment opportunities, or are being made redundant is through providing practical support to enable them to secure a new position.

Organizations need to follow a fair, inclusive, legally defensible objective approach that is clearly communicated to employees, so everyone understands the process. This means that those that are part of the process cannot disagree that it is fair, and the organization can easily demonstrate this to employees.

You can even support employees with services such as cv writing, interview skills, mock interviews and assessments with development advice, job search techniques, use of social media tools, etc., on an individual and group basis.

You may be able to provide this type of support internally and/ or can direct them to resources to support such as free public resources and job search services. Do not underestimate the value of providing direction, advice, and/ or assistance in this area, particularly for long-term employees who may not have created a CV or completed an interview for over 20 years!

3. Financial planning and assistance

How am I going to afford X, Y, Z? It is the first thing that comes to mind for most of us when informed of a pay cut, reduced hours, or risk of layoff or redundancy. Practical help matters more than anything now. In a report by Mercer, an average of 71% of people responded that long-term financial planning, financial wellness education, and a midlife check-up for health, wealth, and career were most important to their futures.

At a minimum, provide clear information about the reasons for the layoffs/ redundancies, changes to pay/ amount of redundancy pay, and how it affects pensions and state benefits. Consider the feasibility of offering a session with a qualified financial advisor, particularly to those who have been identified as most at risk of job loss/ significant wage reductions. What free resources can you point them in the direction of? Access to counseling services as part of your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) could, for example, provide support by enabling employees to discuss the emotional as well as practical implications of the situation.

I firmly believe that organizations, their leaders, and people that show empathy, take care of, and support their employees for the long haul are those that will continue to grow and prosper.

As humans, we are programmed to remember negative emotional experiences over positive ones. The experiences we have had during this time, including those with our current employers, will remain in our conscience for a long time to come. As leaders and managers, we need to shift our thinking from short-term losses to longer-term gains. We must work to ensure there are support structures in place to enable people to thrive; both those remaining and exiting our organizations…. for now.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you to understand your people’s capabilities now and for the future, as well as support those remaining in the role, being redeployed, or being made redundant.

headshot karen mcloughlin


Karen McLoughlin

Karen has over 15 years of consulting experience spanning across the talent management lifecycle from design and delivery of Early Careers talent acquisition and onboarding solutions through to assessment and development initiatives to support Restructure, Succession Planning, Executive Hire, and Development Activities. Karen’s particular interest in Early Careers recruitment is borne out of her experience working with a diverse range of clients across EMEA to help solve a range of talent attraction, recruitment, and retention issues, supporting organizations to create high-performing, inclusive workforces from the ground up. Away from work, she enjoys traveling, hanging out with her two young daughters, and running.

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