16 May Redundancy Top Tips #1
Welcome to this first in a series of blogs where I will be publishing my top tips and lessons learned from my 20 years’ plus experience as an employee relations, redundancy and change leadership expert to the beauty and retail industries.
Retail redundancies on the High Street are unfortunately becoming everyday news. It’s a double-edged sword; business is tough, so you need to make redundancies; redundancies create uncertainty and turmoil which makes business even more challenging. So, how do you minimise the turmoil?
Step 1 is to get your communication right
I have seen major change strategies and business transformation projects completely de-rail because the company hasn’t got their communications right. Here’s my checklist to help you nail this:
- Explain what’s happening in the industry and why you need to adapt now to protect the Company’s long-term future. Talk about changing market dynamics, consumer preferences, the increase of new start-ups, technology and lessons learned from the past. (Think Blockbuster, Kodak and Blackberry). This key message is particularly important if your business is currently in growth and the share price is rocketing! You want to ward off those water-cooler mutterings about a perceived lack of concern and respect for employees and the avariciousness of it all.“More information is always better than less. When people know the reason things are happening, even if it’s bad news, they can adjust their expectations and react accordingly. Keeping people in the dark only serves to stir negative emotions.” Simon Sinek.
- Many companies also make the mistake of only focussing on those at risk of redundancy and forget about the ‘survivors’- your high potential, high performing employees that you need to retain. Get this wrong and you run the risk of them jumping ship, either because they are afraid that they will be next, or, because they have lost trust and become disgruntled and disillusioned. Think about the questions they might have. What have you not told them that they might secretly be worrying about? Reassure them that they are valued. Invite them to give you their feedback, thoughts and suggestions on how to drive growth and how the company can improve products, services and processes to exceed customers needs and drive organisational agility.
- Consider the situation from every angle and every stakeholder’s point of view to compile detailed Q&As – one for those affected, one for those left behind and one for those managing the redundancy process to ensure that they are fully equipped. Spend time reinforcing these key messages during one-to-ones and department meetings and during your floor walks and impromptu store visits.
- If news of redundancies is in the public domain, you may find that your customer-facing employees (particularly those that work in-store) are bombarded with questions from customers. Whilst questions are inevitable, minimise any distress by ensuring that they have additional (daily where possible) visits from the field management team and HR support at the end of a telephone line as and when they need it.You’ll also want to equip them with an official script (keep it as short and to the point as possible) so that they can respond to any questions from customers, the press, the department store management team, etc., in accordance with the official Company line. It’s also a good idea to include some FAQs so that they know who the official company representative is and how to direct calls and questions to them.What other help or advice do you need to help you deliver your redundancy strategy?