HR & COVID-19 | Industries laying off most staff revealed

Industries laying off most staff revealed

Accommodation and food services, construction and transportation and storage are some of the UK industries reporting large-scale layoffs, new research has found.

Autonomy’s data – which shows the percentage of businesses by industry that responded to the Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey (BICS), stating they are laying off workers in the short-term – found that 52% of businesses within the accommodation and food services industries are laying off staff.

The research stated that there are 2.5million people employed in this industry in the UK overall and the average weekly pay in this industry is just £264 per week.

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Arts, entertainment and recreation (£414.70 per week) and administrative and support service activities (£442.10 per week) were also identified as industries where the HR function may witness large-scale staff layoffs.

On the lower end of the scale, the information and communication (£930.50 per week) and education (£464.30 per week) sectors were identified as industries observing fewer staff layoffs at around ten per cent.

With data on the industrial composition in the UK, as well as regions, the site consulted on what information they had concerning business responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also used previous survey data detailing the industries reporting large-scale layoffs.

The report also delved into the where industrial sectors are concentrated in the UK, the geographical spread of unemployment (as recorded between February 13 and March 12, 2020) and the geographical spread of unemployment in the UK before the pandemic.

How can HR sensitively tackle virtual layoffs?

For any HR practitioners that have the devastating task of laying off a portion of the workforce, delivering this information sensitively to the affected staff is crucial.

For many, this news will have to be communicated over the phone or via a video conference due to the current social distancing and lockdown measures, which isn’t ideal for anyone.

David Sillitoe, Partner at the Leeds-based law firm, Robinson Ralph, previously told HR Grapevine that when laying off staff virtually, it is important for HR and employers to remember that legal obligations still apply and that employees have the same legal rights and expectations – that are laid out both in UK law and company policies – as they did before the pandemic arrived.

“For example, if your policy provides for a right to an accompanying person, you will need to consider arrangements for that,” he said. “Consider your wording carefully; it might be best to write a script before the meeting. This is a particularly stressful time for employees, so ensure that you follow up after a virtual meeting or have steps in place to ensure that you check on the employee’s welfare,” Sillitoe added.

When it comes to sensitively delivering this news, JC Townend, CEO in the UK & Ireland at LHH, previously told HR Grapevine that employers shouldn’t ignore the ‘halo effect’. “Redundancy affects the whole company, not just those who have lost their jobs. Research  has suggested that those who remain in post following redundancies show a 40% decrease in morale and 20% decrease in productivity and, as such, it is important that these teams feel totally supported and understand why the redundancies happened, and what is next,” she explained.

Additionally, Townend suggested that HR should think about how they can support these laid off staff members with their next career move. This could be offering transition workshops, coaching them for interviews or helping them to polish off their CVs.

But, before doing that, Townend said that organisations should consider the skillsets that these laid off staff have to see if they align with other internal opportunities.

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