Losing a job or the threat of losing a job can be one of the most traumatic experiences an individual will face.
Along with the normal course of change in our business environments, COVID-19 has added a new level of uncertainty and disruption to our workplaces. Many businesses are facing huge challenges with service and operational impacts and declining revenues. Economic support packages are helping businesses, and many are retaining workforces for as long as possible, while they assess the potential of improved conditions ahead. However, inevitably, many will need to make reductions in their staffing levels.
Some of us have personal experiences of being made redundant or in all likelihood, we will have a partner, family member or friend who has. For others, we may have had the difficult task of breaking this news to a colleague.
The way organisations manage change can be one of the most telling indicators of their beliefs and values. By offering career transition and outplacement support, you send a very strong message to your employees, customers, competitors and the community – that you care.
Irrespective of whether employees know and understand the difficulties their businesses are facing, it does not mean that they will take the news of redundancy any easier. Employees are also personally impacted by the Coronavirus. Job loss adds to levels of stress, anxiety and uncertainty and affects the personal wellbeing of many who are impacted. In our current environment, more than ever, it is the way redundancy is managed and the support given to employees during this time that is most significant.
A recent Korn Ferry whitepaper, ‘Say Yes: To doing career transitions right’, summarises six key elements to consider when providing career transition programs to employees impacted by redundancy. The paper emphasises the long reaching effects of layoffs on retained employees, the organisation and finally, those who have lost their jobs. Following layoff periods, strategies such as sharing a new vision and allowing employees to take control are recommended so they can successfully re-engage with their work.
Additionally, with the newfound importance of social media, mishandled career transition has a greater potential to harm an organisation’s reputation. This makes career transition more important than ever before.
Korn Ferry estimates that 8% of career transition resources are allocated to the 80% of lower income earners. However, these lower earners are just as in need as their higher earning counterparts. In fact, they may require more support when navigating their way through financial hurdles and the necessary qualifications associated with gaining new employment. Furthermore, it is important that individuals who are stood down remain engaged through development opportunities such as training and certifications. This is to mitigate the possible hindrance in their furlough period.
The article suggests that human-centric, rather than technology-based resources, are the most effective in providing support. A key example of this is ensuring team members receive support from “real people”, face-to-face.
Finally, the article suggests that “helping displaced employees find their next job is an insufficient ambition”. Most displaced employees feel tremendous pressure to find another job quickly, and often this puts them in a position where they accept the first available job, even if it’s not the most appropriate fit. It is usually the second job following displacement that presents the opportunity to recover from previous setbacks.
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