How to advise employees facing retrenchment 

A reminder on how to manage people during what is an increasingly common occurrence.

Moneyweb has recently published a five-point plan for employees facing retrenchment - something that is becoming an increasingly common occurrence within the South African business landscape. Referring to some of the published retrenchment cases, the article advises those dealing with the  prospect of being ‘let go’ to take stock of the financial wellness entirely by way of informing creditors and dependents of their impending retrenchment, checking whether their policies have any income protection while also ensuring they understand how much severance pay they are entitled. 

The article should serve as a reminder to HR managers and leaders who will have to oversee retrenchments, that employees facing the axe have a lot to contend with in addition to the sheer impact that losing a job can have on one’s sense of self-worth. 

The key, among so many other things, is for leaders to appreciate what employees are going through and treat every individual and they would like to the treated. This means responding directly to any and every concern that is raised about the process and providing as much assistance as is possible with regarding helping recover mentally and financially from the experience. Organisations can offer guidance to assist in finding new work opportunities and subsidise learning to make employees more employable for their next endeavour. 

There is also a matter of dealing with the impact on employees who have kept their jobs. If the process is not handled correctly, they may very well feel demotivated and disengaged after seeing how their former co-workers we treated. Despite the relief of surviving the cuts, this can cause poor performance and behaviours that have negative consequences for the business. The best way to handle this is the be transparent and allow employees to vent their frustrations through the appropriate channels and address and perceptions that the retrenchments were not handled properly.