In this ever-changing situation let’s remember, when we hear “staff cuts” and “reducing employee headcount” we are talking about people; people who may have other people to care for, families to feed and mortgages to pay. People who will be feeling emotional and anxious, and who need support.
In the past week of the rapidly evolving Covid-19 pandemic response, the dreaded ‘R’ words have been rearing their ugly heads: reorganisation, restructuring, redundancy, and recession. Air New Zealand announced publicly they could be reducing staff by as much as 30%. While many other organisations expect losses, some are already asking people to use up annual leave, reduce work hours, work from home, stop travelling and so on. As we all work together to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, the inevitable economic impact is of concern to all of us.
We must continue to look after our people.
Before decisions are made to reduce staff numbers, have all other options been considered? How can government subsidies be utilised to keep businesses running? Can a core of essential staff be retained? Could others be offered extended leave (paid or unpaid) until this situation passes? These are some of the questions we are all considering.
If the only option remaining is redundancy, there are legally required processes to be followed, and the current situation is no different. A proper consultation process can result in creative ideas and suggestions that hadn’t previously been thought of. Employers must also act in good faith, ensuring people are offered support as outlined in their employment agreement, company policy and/or the change proposal.
What feels different this time is the level of support people are going to need.
At Vargo + Lewis we work with people whose positions have been made redundant. We coach people to recognise and articulate their transferable skills and core values, prepare their personal marketing tools (CVs and LinkedIn profiles) as well as job applications and interview skills. We’re currently being asked, “what if there are no jobs to apply for?”
That’s why it feels different. So we’re adding in a big dose of resilience and wellbeing and taking our coaching online (via Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams), to meet people where they are at. We bring a clear focus on strategies people can use to maximise opportunity for themselves.
What opportunities can you discover for yourself in this situation?
There are already cries of staff shortages in some industries, so sometimes a temporary pivot into a different area could be an option. This not only fills a financial need but can also fill a gap or add new skills and competencies to a CV.
Yes, these are tough times, but this will pass and the economy will rebound as it has done before. Let’s be mindful of our people. Those who experience temporary job loss may be asked to return. It only seems like yesterday we were experiencing talent shortages! The people we work with will be supported to reflect, strategise and prepare to launch back into the job market when the time comes.
We are in this together. Please get in touch if you need any advice or would like to provide your people with support during this current unsettling time.