1. Explore alternative employment for redundant employees as an integral part of the redundancy process An employer that dismisses an employee for redundancy without considering whether or not there is alternative employment available could be found to have dismissed the employee unfairly, even if there was a genuine redundancy situation. Exploration of alternative roles should be undertaken as an important part of the redundancy consultation process.
2. Don’t rule out offering a role that may not seem “suitable” for a particular employee An employee may be willing to accept an offer of a less senior role or a job in a different part of the business, if the alternative is unemployment. So employers should not withhold information about vacancies they assume an employee would not be interested in.
3. Start considering alternative employment as early as possible Employers should begin considering what alternative employment might be available as soon as it is clear that redundancies may be necessary. Exploration of alternatives to redundancy should continue throughout the process.
4. Think very carefully before withholding a redundancy payment from an employee An employee who unreasonably refuses an offer of alternative employment will not be entitled to a redundancy payment. However, it is not always clear if a particular job is “suitable” or whether or not it is unreasonable for the employee to refuse it, so employers should be very cautious about withholding a payment.
5. Be aware of special rights for employees on maternity leave Employers need to be particularly careful when handling redundancies when there are employees on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave, as these employees have extra protection. If there is a suitable alternative vacancy for an employee on family-related leave, the employer has an obligation to offer it to him or her.
B) Keeping staff engaged…2017 The key is to create an environment where employees genuinely feel engaged and involved, where there is a sense of collective responsibility and employees believe they have a degree of control over their destiny. Here are some suggestions of how to achieve this:
• To be effective, communication should be comprehensive, credible and two-way. There needs to be an ability to act on employee input and where a commitment is given, follow it through. When suggestions are not in the best interests of the company this needs to be explained clearly. Share as much financial information as possible – by being upfront and open from the start you will build trust and confidence.
• Every manager will affect employee engagement and disengaged leaders can cause enormous damage. There needs to be a unified approach that starts at the top. Even if employees don’t like the information or actions given to them, they will be watching how the owners and managers behave and judge the company accordingly.
• Be visible. Have an open door policy, walk around the office and talk to people. Acknowledge their concerns, answer questions and have positive conversations. Show that you want to invest time in them, not just take their input. Explain that all businesses go through cycles and be optimistic that despite the challenges, with everyone’s support there’s no reason why the company will not return to success.
• Recognition and reward is a vital element of good leadership and its value to employees increases in difficult times. Nurturing existing clients is vital, so recognise and reward individuals or teams who are doing this well. Highlighting those who have made significant contributions, shown extra effort or delivered beyond expectations can provide a real boost to morale and encourage a healthy sense of competition. If small monetary rewards such as vouchers are not an option, a bottle of wine or box of chocolates can be an effective way to show appreciation.
• The formation of problem-solving groups helps energise and motivate staff and provides another opportunity to recognise and reward individual contribution. People will feel better about their situation if there is a sense that they can do something about it. Groups can be tasked with generating new ideas about how to grow existing business or acquire new clients, explore competitor activity or cut costs.
• Dig down and discover the issues affecting your employees and be willing to act on them. This can be done using formal tools such as questionnaires and focus groups which provide employees with the opportunity to voice their concerns and suggest improvements. If employees believe that their anxieties and recommendations are being taken seriously, it strengthens the employment relationship and the fabric of the organisation as a whole. By measuring specific drivers such as communication, trust in leadership, recognition and reward, you will expose the root causes of any problem areas. Survey results can be used to derive an action plan, with specific aims attached to particular individuals. Regular updates also need to be communicated company-wide to highlight progress on specific issues and fuel the engagement process further.