Company implementing the third redundancy programme in 15 months
We were 15 months into a relationship with a technology business (they had previously outsourced their HR function to us) when we were asked to advise and help them deliver a third redundancy programme. We had already worked with the Chief Executive and Finance Director on each of the 2 earlier programmes and had contributed to the development of the business cases, established a time-line for each programme, including consultation requirements, and managed an election process for staff representatives. We had used fairly standard selection criteria and agreed the selection pools for each round with the representatives prior to holding the requisite meetings with individuals at risk of redundancy. We had provided all the financial calculations and correspondence relevant to each employee and we were present throughout all the consultation meetings to support both line managers and staff at risk of redundancy.
Redundancy with no real prospect of redeployment
At the start of the third round of redundancies the client was faced with making some stark choices. Difficult decisions had been made in each of the first two rounds on which jobs were redundant but in a way they were relatively straightforward as the client had to make some significant cost reductions quickly and there were some (if minimal) opportunities for redeployment of staff affected. By the third stage the client had to reduce core technology job numbers from 11 to 6 with no realistic options for redeployment of those at risk of redundancy. In addition it was clear that the client’s future business model was dependent on it being able to develop and sell a new suite of products to a highly competitive, dynamic market within a period of no more than 12 months. Given that backdrop selection decisions were critical.
Key case facts
Number of employees: 15
Key strategic objectives: to develop and launch a new suite of products to a highly competitive, dynamic market within 12 months
Key HR objectives: to reduce core technology jobs from 11 to 6, retaining those most able to contribute to the key strategic objective
The Collins Green Solutions
Assessing future skills requirements and potential
We worked initially with the Chief Executive, FD and a senior manager to identify the technical skills and capabilities which the business would need to retain and they undertook a desk top exercise to assess how many of the 11 technologists either had, or could reasonably acquire the requisite skills in short order. Not surprisingly their assessment was that all 11 members of staff had this capability. We therefore needed to turn our minds to identifying other selection criteria.
Our advice was that they needed to consider and anticipate the future working environment, the culture they needed to have in a small organisation involved in developing new products and the kinds of demands which a team of 6 would face over the 12 month period which was identified as business critical. We provided examples of the kinds of behaviours and “soft” skills which the team of 6 might need to demonstrate individually and collectively (alongside the technical skills) and facilitated discussions amongst the senior team to identify those which they believed would be essential.
We were at the meeting when the client presented the draft selection criteria to the staff representatives, and to the 11 technologists in the selection pool so that we could help to answer questions and pick up on their queries and suggestions. Over 3-4 further meetings the selection criteria were amended and refined before being agreed as reasonable, appropriate and fair.
Involving employees in the process
Involving people to define the selection criteria against which they may be selected for redundancy may sound like turkeys voting for Christmas. It doesn’t take away any of the emotional reactions to hearing that your job, and you, are redundant. Yet those involved said that they felt the Company showed them considerable respect by involving them and two also said that they were pleased to have had some insights into how the company might look and feel in the future as it helped them to feel better about not being selected to stay. (see our case studies on employee engagement for more examples of the benefits of involving employees).
A solution which is making a lasting impact
The company has brought new products to market and they are making progress with the business model. The 6 technologists selected are still with the company and we use the behaviours used as selection criteria (with some amendments) as part of the Performance Review process as they continue to be valid and essential elements for sustaining the business.