Sudden, large-scale offboarding: for the HR community, it’s a difficult and stressful aspect of dealing with the tragic fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, it’s also arguably one of the most important for your organisation’s medium and long-term reputation as an employer.
Beware creating a toxic employer brand
Being laid off due to a big economic downturn by an employer who you feel is being honest, fair, consultative and supportive is one thing. Being dumped unceremoniously is quite another – as the public outcry over a well-known pub chain’s response to the crisis showed.
Breaking the contract of trust between employer and employee in this way will lead to understandably resentful alumni. Not only will they never return to work for you – but they can do untold damage to your reputation – particularly in the era of social media and Glassdoor. It’s negative publicity that can damage your consumer, as well as your employer brand.
The effect on your remaining employees can be equally damaging, creating insecurity, destroying brand loyalty and increasing the flight of talent. Remember, it will often be your most talented, skilled and experienced people who will have the luxury of being able to move at this time.
So, what are some of the key dos and don’ts?
Ruth Miller, a Talent Acquisition, Training & Outplacement Consultant with huge experience, says being open and transparent is key. “Explain in as much detail as you can exactly why you’re making the decision to make people redundant – and about the economic and business challenges you are facing as an organisation that make it necessary. Then be completely transparent about the selection process for redundancy. How are you deciding who to keep and who to let go, and why?”
Take time to put together quality redundancy and support packages
Obviously, money is very important to people in this context. But providing support and guidance can be powerful, too. From one-to-one coaching, to offering workshops on CV writing, job search techniques, and developing LinkedIn profiles, you can help your employees get back on their feet in many ways. Using remote workshops, perhaps over a Zoom call, also provides a cost-effective way of helping many people at once. Remember that support, information and signposting around mental health challenges, and help in coming to terms with a difficult period of transition can also be very useful.
Use technology to help inform and connect people
Innovative technology such as Eli can provide the perfect way to communicate easily and effectively with people you’re offboarding, particularly during lockdown. Such platforms can take the time-consuming aspect of sending employees details of the redundancy process and packages off your hands. They are also a great place to host workshop videos and helpful information, as well as signposting people to other key resources on the wider web.
Messaging boards also allow you to share news of hiring opportunities in the market, and provide a networking space, where your former employees can share ideas, and support each other. “Employees are going through a really difficult transition in their lives, having to leave a job when it’s a really tough market out there,” says Ruth. “It’s great if you don’t just stop access to software the day an employee leaves a company, but allow them to use it until they find another job.”
Keep in touch with your former employees throughout their search for a new role and beyond. Encourage them to join alumni associations. Help foster the idea that you really value them and the contribution they’ve made to the company – despite the current difficult circumstances – and your ability to rehire them in an upturn increases manyfold.
Don’t forget the effect on those left behind
Offboarding can also be a stressful time for HR professionals and for managers who may be making team members they’ve worked with for years redundant. So providing them with best practice information on how to handle the redundancy process is vital. As is delivering clear and timely internal communications to those left behind, to provide reassurance, steady nerves, and outline changes in responsibilities and team structures. Making sure everyone has access to relevant mental health and wellbeing resources at this time is also key.
Remember you’re shaping your employer brand
“Your employer brand is how you behave during this period – not a fake marketing campaign which potential employees and current hires can see through because it doesn’t actually reflect what they’re seeing, reading and hearing about you,” says Ruth. “If an employer behaves well in the current market, they automatically have a strong employer brand – not least in the shape of the authentic stories of their employees – and they won’t struggle to recruit going forward.”
Want to hear more on offboarding, and other hot HR topics of the day? Why not grab a cuppa and a biscuit, and listen to CA3 Cup of tea series podcast, where we chat with Ruth Miller about Offboarding and your employer brand.