«Trevor-Roberts Associates PO Box 142, Toowong Qld 4066 Phone: 07 3217 7288 © Copyright 2011. Trevor-Roberts Associates. ...»
10 Things You Need to Know
Before Retrenching Staff
PO Box 142, Toowong Qld 4066
Phone: 07 3217 7288
© Copyright 2011. Trevor-Roberts
Associates. All rights reserved.
In today’s changing environment, competition has intensified and companies are
looking at themselves more carefully. This has resulted in many organisations
experiencing takeovers, mergers, restructures, or ‘down-sizing’ exercises.
All these activities have one thing in common – the termination of employment of some staff.
We believe that if the termination of staff becomes inevitable, it should be done in a dignified and humane manner with as much support provided as possible.
Key Benefits of an effective process Minimises the impact on the individual’s self esteem which enhances their ability to adapt to the change and focus their energy on their career transition.
Ensures a sense of security is maintained with existing staff. An effective, humane retrenchment demonstrates to remaining staff that, despite the commercial reality of having to make positions redundant, the organisation still cares about the welfare of individuals.
Reduces the likelihood of costly legal action against the company.
Maintains the organisation’s integrity in the eyes of the public.
Having helped hundreds of organisations and supported thousands of individuals through redundancy over the past 18 years, we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t.
In this special report we will guide you through 10 critical issues that you must address to conduct an effective termination.
Making someone redundant is not easy. It is one of the most difficult and challenging tasks of management. But it can be handled in an effective and humane way.
Ultimately I hope that you don’t have to use this guide. But if you do, addressing these 10 critical issues will make it easier for all parties involved.
Best regards, Edwin Trevor-Roberts CEO Thank you for your help and follow up. The redundancy was the best thing to happen to me career wise for a long time.
Tracy – Career Transition Participant © 2011 Trevor-Roberts Associates. All rights reserved. Page 2 #1: Get the Right Advice It is crucial to seek advice and input from the following three stakeholders: the Human Resource Department, a lawyer and a CareerTransition (Outplacement) Consultant.
Human Resource Department The HR department will provide you with a termination letter and a letter outlining all the benefits the retrenched employee is entitled to. It is very important that these are given to the employee at the termination interview as it shows the organisation’s professionalism and commitment to the decision they have made. The HR Department will also ensure that all statutory requirements are met, workflow is maintained and any other matters are promptly attended to.
Lawyer It is recommended that the whole redundancy process and any correspondence is checked by a third party lawyer to minimise the risk of unfair dismissal claims and ensure that any relevant legislation is adhered to.
Career Transition (Outplacement) Consultant The Career Consultant will assist both the organisation and the affected individuals.
For the organisation: they will provide advice on the process used to retrench staff and train managers in how to conduct the termination interview. They will also provide advice on how best to minimise the affect of retrenchments on the remaining staff.
For the individual: they will meet immediately after the termination interview to provide emotional support and explain the Career Transition Program. They
will then help the individual:
1. Adapt to their changed circumstances;
2. Identify what they want to do next in their career; and
3. Coach them to secure the next step (eg full time work, portfolio work, starting a business, retiring etc)
© 2011 Trevor-Roberts Associates. All rights reserved. Page 3 #2: How to Structure the Interview Every company faces a slightly different situation with different requirements so there is no one correct process. There are, however, certain elements which will ensure that the termination is conducted as effectively as possible. The following recommended structure is, from our experience, the most effective way to deliver a retrenchment message.
Interview with Line Manager The Manager conducts the termination interview following the set process and script, which will be discussed later, and answering any questions as concisely as possible.
A representative from the HR department may also be present to run through the entitlements with the individual, or they may brief the Line Manager in detail so that he or she can discuss this with the person leaving.
The Manager then introduces the individual to the Career Transition Consultant who waits in a nearby office.
This interview is quite brief usually around 10 to 20 minutes and this process minimises the stress on the Line Manager by giving them specific guidelines to work through.
Interview with Career Consultant The Career Consultant outlines the support provided through the Career Transition program, provides emotional support and addresses any issues which the individual may be facing. They will also make recommendations of what the individual should do over the next few days.
The time frame for this interview depends entirely upon the individual and their reaction to the termination. Usually the interview lasts until the individual has calmed down sufficiently to be able to leave the premises safely.
Note that it is important that it is emphasised that the position is being made redundant and the retrenchment is not based on performance. There is nothing that the individual could have done to change this decision.
The actual termination date.
Ensure that the person retains their dignity (see Tip #7) and retains some control over the process, for example, choosing what time they wish to leave.
Presentation of a letter of termination.
Ensure that this letter is ready and outlines all the financial arrangements.
Outline of a statement concerning the ‘leaving story’.
This outlines what will be said to other employees, clients/customers and potential employers about the termination.
How to Say it The most important part of the interview is that the individual actually understands the message. The choice of language must therefore be appropriate to the individual being retrenched. You must also, as much as possible, help
them maintain their self esteem. Here are some tips:
Remain calm. Do not react emotionally to anything they may say or do.
Use effective listening skills. Be open, non-defensive and non-judgmental.
Listen carefully to any questions or comments with the aim that whatever their reaction you ensure that it is okay for them to react in such a way.
When responding to questions state the facts again: the decision is final, that the company spent considerable time looking for alternatives and that retrenchment was the final option available. Reinforce that it is the position being made redundant, not the person.
Be prepared for the unexpected. Even if people have seen the retrenchment coming, they may still be surprised when it happens. This is discussed on the next page.
Remain objective. It is human nature to want to help people or be on their ‘side’ but doing so does more harm than good. For example, saying ‘I understand how you feel’ may make them feel belittled as the only person who truly knows how they feel is themselves.
© 2011 Trevor-Roberts Associates. All rights reserved. Page 5 #4: When & Where to Conduct the Interview When to Conduct the Interview Plan the termination meeting early in the week and preferably late in the morning or early in the afternoon. DO NOT PLAN THE TERMINATION MEETING ON A FRIDAY AFTERNOON. From the Manager’s point of view it may be the most convenient time, but for the terminated employee, it is the worst time.
Avoid telling people on the eve of an important event such as a wedding, anniversary, birthday, or prior to an important business meeting.
An appropriate announcement time will help the employee come to grips with his/her situation more quickly, make any queries, receive adequate information and meet with and establish rapport with the Career Consultant.
Where to Conduct the Interview The most effective place to conduct the termination interview is either in the Line Manager’s office or in a confidential and private meeting/interview room.
This shows to the affected individual the seriousness of the matter and ensures privacy. The manager will feel more comfortable by having the meeting in their own ‘turf’.
It is not advisable to have the meeting in the employees workspace as there are more chances of interruptions and they will, emotionally, feel invaded and that their space is being encroached upon. This only makes the termination more difficult for them.
Usually the employee has certain predictable emotional responses; shock; hurt;
anger; rejection; disappointment.
They then quickly move onto practical questions about the redundancy details, date of leaving, support etc.
You should be prepared for the employee to act emotionally at first. Once feelings are ventilated, practical issues can be addressed. It is important to be careful not to inhibit the expression of these feelings.
Career Transition (Outplacement) services should be introduced to staff as soon as they are told of their redundancy. The service can be delivered prior to the formal date of exit if staff are leaving progressively.
The decision to accept the offer of Career Transition support is always voluntary but a meeting with the consultant needs to be held to explain the service and organise appointments. The endorsement of the program by management should form part of this process.
© 2011 Trevor-Roberts Associates. All rights reserved. Page 7 #6: Respond to Questions In preparing for the termination meeting it is important to anticipate questions and to think through the answers you will give. It may be worthwhile to check your answers with your solicitor. Following are some common questions and
some general answers:
Can I be considered for another position?
We have restructured the organisation and unfortunately we do not have a position that matches your skills and experience.
What will you tell my staff and prospective employers?
The company has undertaken a re-organisation which has resulted in a number of staff being retrenched.
I want to talk to my solicitor and check what my legal rights are.
It is your privilege to seek legal advice. The decision to terminate your services has been discussed with all the appropriate Managers and is final. We have had legal advice on your settlement and it includes all the statutory entitlements to ensure that your retrenchment package is fair.
What happens to me now?
The terms of settlement are explained in the letter we handed to you which includes details on finances and other benefits due to you. The company is prepared to support you with your transition to the next stage of your career and will provide independent, confidential Career Transition Support.
Preparing for Possible Questions
Use the following prompts to think about possible questions:
How questions. Eg how will I tell my family?
© 2011 Trevor-Roberts Associates. All rights reserved. Page 8 #7: Retain Dignity This is the most obvious but most neglected part of the process. The fundamental
Treat other people how you would like to be treated.
Put yourself in their shoes. How would you like to be treated? What would you prefer to happen?
One of the most effective ways to minimise the negative impact of redundancy on an individual is to ensure that they have some control over what is happening.
Don’t force them to leave straightaway. Definitely don’t ‘accompany’ them to the front door. Security personnel is a bad idea.
Treat them like human beings. Allow them to choose what time to leave, although do give a deadline, for example, by the end of the day or week.
Remember that people don’t just come to work to work. It forms part of the social fabric of their lives and redundancy can be a painful tear in that fabric.
Individuals need to say goodbye to their colleagues, or friends as the case may be. It is also important for those staying behind to say goodbye as well.
© 2011 Trevor-Roberts Associates. All rights reserved. Page 10 Career Transition Program Features
We have a number of added value features in our programs:
1. Dedicated Client Services Team. Our client services team liaise closely with consultants and their participants to provide them with any additional resources that they may need in their job search.
2. Dedicated Consultant. During the program participants meet with the same Consultant and to ensure a solid and continuous rapport is built.
3. Online Resources. Each participant has access to our website that contains a range of resources that includes, among others, research databases, job search links, information to start a business, and training information.
4. Other Resources. Our head office has a comprehensive job search library including a variety of resources for researching organisations, industries etc as well as computer facilities and workstations.
5. Recruitment Consultants and Employment Agencies. We have formed a strategic alliance with industry specific Recruitment Consultants and Employment Agencies in order to provide the best service to our participants.
6. ‘Career Tips’ e-newsletter. Participants receive a fortnightly enewsletter for the duration of their program with practical tips and motivational writings to help them through this difficult period.