The Good, the Bad and the Ugly redundancies

Firms planning 20 or more redundancies at a single “establishment” must by law notify the government via a form called HR1, of how many people they are potentially making redundant.

On September 8th, the BBC released HR1 figures, secured via a Freedom of Information request that revealed a six fold increase in plans to cut jobs in June 2020 compared to June 2019, and a seven fold increase in July on the previous July. But that wasn’t particularly surprising nor was the headline that 38% of firms in the private sector compared to 16% in the public sector planned to make redundancies, as reported in research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and recruiter Adecco.

But when the folds and percentages are converted to affected individuals, close to half a million redundancies are likely to be announced in the autumn, although the number could end up exceeding 700,000, according to a study by the Institute for Employment Studies; and that’s on top of 240,000 redundancies officially recorded by the government up until June.

One million people could be made redundant in 2020.

Companies making cost savings to address their business performance in the context of decimated revenues and recovery models is responsible management, but that’s not the news story on this blog page nor is the story of those potentially guilty of addressing long standing previously ignored business issues by the opportunity presented by covid19.

No, this blog is reserved for those getting redundancy right or not as the case may be.

British Airways has been accused of “appalling behaviour that puts a Victorian mill owner to shame” in its treatment of staff. (Independent) Some BA staff who have accepted voluntary redundancy say they had felt “forced” into it. Carol (not her real name) said of her BA experience “Even before I had accepted the voluntary redundancy offer, I had a message on my roster from BA: ‘Thank you for your service. Good luck’. That is all I got from them after 23 years”. (BBC News)

During August I caught up with 3 people who had sadly lost their jobs due to pandemic restructuring and I heard 3 very, different personal stories.

The Good – the Sales Director  –  sales during C19 dropped from $50m a month to $5m a month ( yep I thought I’d misheard too)  “they made me a very good offer, very early on and I took it”.

The Bad – the Regional Director – a complete lack of detail, more U turns than the government and an apparent disregard for the legal process.

The Ugly – the CEO – having to deal with an external consultant who had all the finesse of Donald Trump.

Having been on both sides of the redundancy table I decided to balance things up and hosted a zoom group of 6 SME owners who were in one of the following 3 stages of redundancy: completed the process, in the process of completing or considering the process.

Here’s their advice for other owners, to ensure a good redundancy process:

  1. Start with a full business review and use that to drive your decision.
  2. Resist the temptation to take short cuts.
  3. Consult with a HR professional before, during and after.
  4. Regular staff engagement will help avoid any nasty surprises.
  5. Double check everyone has received ALL the information.
  6. Listen to all staff ideas, proposals, suggestions and respond to all, logically and calmly.
  7. Avoid being reactive, be proactive in thought, speech, and action.
  8. Be present at the meetings.
  9. Don’t underestimate the emotional impact on individuals.
  10. Stick to your guns if you believe in the decision.

10 plus years ago I found myself in a city I’d only previously visited once before and standing in a queue recognised a former colleague with a rather BIG husband at her side (the big is relevant).

The conversation went something like this …

Me… “Hi Susan, how are you? It’s Michael Donaldson”

Susan… vague look on her face, then she places me, “I remember you, you made me redundant!”

Me…  awkward and now very conscious of the size of her husband who was staring at me, along with others in the queue … “am sure I did it nicely”

Susan… “yes you did, how are you? What brings you here?”

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said that people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”

Maya Angelou

Since 2013 I have been helping ambitious SMEs with their Strategic and Leadership challenges.

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Posted in communication, Company Culture, Decision Making, leadership, Values
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