'Less is necessary' | How will Ford's HR convince 1,300 UK workers to quit their jobs?

How will Ford's HR convince 1,300 UK workers to quit their jobs?

Ford has announced it will cut 1,300 jobs in the UK – a fifth of its British headcount, as part of a major European restructure.

The car maker will be axing 3,800 roles in product development and administration across the continent, as it aims to lower costs in the region and concentrate its engineering efforts to the US.

Ford’s European EV chief, Martin Sander, said the company was “moving into a world with less global platforms where less engineering work is necessary” and it had to “make the adjustments”.

In addition to the 1,300 cuts in the UK – which will be made over the next two years - around 2,300 jobs will go at Ford's Cologne and Aachen sites in Germany, as well as 200 in the rest of Europe.

The company said it intends to achieve the reductions through voluntary redundancy programmes.

‘Early exit’ from the workforce might appeal to some

Mike Tremeer, Employment Partner at Fladgate, said: “This is just the latest announcement from a big company that is to make large cuts to employee numbers. Twitter, Meta, Microsoft and others have already announced similar programmes.

“Many have been expecting these large-scale restructures and redundancy processes since the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. However, the Government’s furlough scheme and support extended to employers during the pandemic was successful in delaying them for a period.

“Inflation, rising costs and further turmoil throughout 2022 and 2023 appear to have been the final straw for these employers who will all be feeling pressure from shareholders to remain competitive and preserve profit margins.

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“Apparently up to 1,300 UK roles will be at risk in the next three years and it appears that Ford are expecting for most of those to be achieved through voluntary redundancy.

“Perhaps an early exit will be appealing to those approaching retirement. But younger employees might be less willing to consider volunteering for redundancy if the job market continues to deteriorate.

“Ford might have to consider increasing their enhanced redundancy package if they hope to limit the number of compulsory redundancies that will be necessary.”

What if not enough workers volunteer to go?

Ford hopes that enough employees will volunteer to leave the workforce to avoid the need for compulsory redundancies. But what if, as Tremeer suggests, the business cannot entice enough employees to depart?

In this case, it's important to start considering how a compulsory redundancy process should be managed.

On its website, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) offers insight from Paul Holcroft, Associate Director at Croner, who advises firms on their HR policies – part of which covers redundancy packages. He said that honesty and clarity are the critical components of successful support.

“Being made redundant can be an incredibly distressing time, so it is essential that employers maintain regular dialogue with affected staff,” Holcroft said.

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The Evolution Report: What employees want and how employers are responding

New workplace dynamics such as ‘The Great Resignation’ and ‘Quiet Quitting’ have appeared and, some would argue, quickly disappeared.

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“Given the complexity of a redundancy procedure, employers should provide individuals with a clear explanation of their rights and a timeframe for when decisions will be made. This reduces any unnecessary stress and ill feeling among the workforce. Employees with a minimum of two years’ service are eligible for a reasonable amount of time off to look for new work or to arrange training for future employment.”

Similarly, official guidance from the CIPD explained that ‘redundancy should be a last resort’.

“It can be one of the most distressing events an employee can experience. It requires sensitive handling by the employer to ensure fair treatment of redundant employees as well as the productivity and morale of the remaining workforce. Redundancy legislation and case law is complex, and employers must understand their obligations, including employees' rights and the correct procedures to follow,” the body’s official advice explained.

More workers re-enter the talent pool, but firms still face recruitment struggles

The news of continuing job cuts across might paint a picture of across a wide range of sectors suggests that firms on the hunt for new talent might be spoiled for choice. But the latest British Chambers of Commerce report revealed employers are facing the highest level of recruitment difficulties on record.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data also found that job vacancies, though falling, remain above one million, showing demand is still strong but that the right candidates are in short supply.

In fact, a recent Glassdoor study of 2,000 people in full-time employment found that the number one challenge across all ages when job hunting is finding a relevant role that matches their skills and experience. One in 4 (25 percent) of UK workers said this was their greatest difficulty.

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It’s important, therefore, for employers to remove any hurdles job seekers might face.

With the turbulent economy, 22% of those surveyed were worried about finding a job that supports the cost of living. And looking at the interview process itself, 1 in 5 (21 percent) said there were too many interview stages in their last job hunt and 18 percent struggled to get companies to respond to their application.

“The continued shrinkage of the UK’s labour market means that hiring will remain tough throughout 2023.” said Jill Cotton, career trends expert at Glassdoor.

“Job candidates are looking for increasing autonomy over how and when they work, and while compensation remains front of mind as inflation continues to soar, employers can stand out from the competition by focusing on a strong employer brand to attract and retain talent and understanding the challenges job seekers of all ages face.”

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