Restructuring and Redundancy; managing through a challenging time

Posted by Roxanne Chugg

It is essential that organisation’s restructure to align with service requirements to meet client or customer expectations and needs, to maintain performance and achieve efficiencies. Quite often this type of restructure is initiated as a result of technological changes, changes in what customers expect and/or need, changes in personnel, changes in CEO or General Manager or enhancements to processes.  The challenge is to expand this focus to consider the organisations strategic objectives, looking beyond the immediate operational needs to consider whether the organisation has the skills, experience and knowledge it needs for the future.

How often should a restructure occur? This can be a challenging dilemma, too often and the business will struggle to adapt and engagement will suffer and not often enough will result in a business that is performing inefficiently and neglecting to remain relevant and sustainable. It is likely that positions will be identified as redundant through a restructure process and when this occurs it can present some challenging decisions.

Regardless of whether it is one or twenty positions being made redundant it is important to use proven change management principles; see earlier blogs at our website and remember some key points that will assist an employer when faced with redundancies:

  • Communication – is extremely important particularly during consultation, once an employer has announced that redundancies are likely to occur, employees and their families need to be kept updated regularly regarding the anticipated time frames for decisions and announcements.
  • Timing – must be considered, providing too much time for consultation can result in ongoing uncertainty which will negatively impact employees and their families who will be hesitant to make plans or commitments. Similarly, too little time will not allow for effective consultation regarding the proposed redundancy process.
  • Redeployment – should be the first consideration, can an employee be redeployed within the organisation? This includes the employer training the employee to gain the required skills and knowledge – remember it is the position that is redundant and not the employee.
  • Support – if the position is identified as redundant and no redeployment opportunities are available, investigate options for external support for the employee. There are a number of government programs offering support to prepare job seekers who have been affected by redundancy. Alternatively there are some outstanding counselling and job preparation programs run by private enterprise that will work with affected employees.

Lastly, it is important that when managing such a challenging process that the decision maker recognises the strain that the uncertainty of a redundancy process can have on employees and their families. Without doubt it will be a difficult time and nothing will negate the hardship that may be created for the employee. Regardless the process should be managed by the employer to ensure that it is timely, lawful and supportive to ensure the best possible outcome for all involved.

Are you considering a restructure?  What help could we provide you?