Supporting your furloughed employees if you have to make redundancies

A recent poll by the British Chamber of Commerce found that almost 20% of the 250 businesses surveyed were considering making redundancies as a result of the changes to the furlough scheme that came into action at the start of August.

The changes see the balance of government versus employer contributions continuing to shift and employers contributing more than they have up until now, as the scheme starts to wind down in advance of being phased out completely in September.

If you do find yourself in the position of having to make furloughed employees redundant, you might not have considered offering them outplacement support. Maybe it feels counterintuitive to invest in these employees when you are trying to save costs, or you feel you can’t justify spending on employees who are exiting – but in fact, outplacement can do the exact opposite for your people and company. Here’s why a service of this nature can make all the difference – to those being let go, to your retained employees, and to your company’s future.

1) Reigniting confidence and self-worth in those being let go

It’s reported that the furlough scheme has helped protect 11 million jobs since it was introduced in April 2020, allowing millions of people to keep receiving at least 80% of their salary even if their employer couldn’t afford to have them working, preventing mass redundancies. With up to 1.9 million workers still estimated to be on furlough, you may have people in your furloughed population who have not worked in a considerable number of months. From our experience, we know that people in this position are likely to have had their feelings of confidence and self-worth impacted, both really important aspects to consider when approaching the job market. Practically speaking it is also much harder to recall all the great examples of value they have added to the business, or their achievements which are so important to creating a strong CV and cover letter and to performing well at interview. These factors combined can create a vicious cycle of applicant rejection and despondency.

With Connor outplacement support, we focus on the whole individual, rather than just what is needed to land their next role. We always start our career support with taking a step back and looking at everything affecting that individual, from financial concerns, family obligations, career ambitions and current skill set. We then consider all of these aspects to create a plan to help them move forward positively, encompassing their whole self. Having the opportunity to explore wider thoughts and feelings with an experienced coach, including confidence, self-worth and resilience, helps people recall and explain all of the great benefits they bring and what they have to offer as an employee. It also reignites their confidence to approach the job market. And for those that need a bit more support with life’s demands, we can also offer access to our Employee Assistance Programme, giving 24/7 confidential support and advice. All of this together helps people move on faster, to roles they are better suited to and more passionate about, and restore the feeling of being looked after by you, the exiting company.

2) Your retained employees feel a greater sense of stability

There can be a whole range of reasons that you need to let people go at this time (and of course you need to ensure your reasons are valid so that you don’t open yourself up for a tribunal or claim for unfair dismissal). New ways of working prompted or accelerated by the pandemic have caused certain roles to no longer be required, jobs to no longer exist because other employees are able to carry out the responsibilities, or the work is just not there anymore. However, if you have employees still working for you, the impact of seeing their colleagues and friends being let go, particularly after a period of time on furlough, can create a lot of unrest and uncertainty. You need these retained employees to be working at their best, to be engaged with your organisation, and not to consider leaving. Unfortunately seeing those around them being let go can lead to increased disengagement in retained staff or worries of ‘what if I’m next?’ – prompting people you desperately needed to retain to look elsewhere for opportunities. However, if your retained staff see their former colleagues being looked after and helped to move onto their next step, this helps maintain business as usual across the organisation and reduced turnover of those employees you do still have jobs for. As Connor’s support is completely flexible, built around the individual and available for as long as they need to land their next opportunity, everyone gets exactly what they need, when they need it, and your retained employees see that you have really provided the best possible support to the leavers instead of the process being a box ticking exercise.

3) Your company’s brand – attracting talent further down the line

You might be wondering why the attitude of exiting employees matters to your organisation. Although you might be letting people go now, at some point in the future you will probably want the option of adding to your workforce, and if you want to attract the best talent you need to be aware of your employer brand, which is closely aligned to what your employees say about you. It’s all very well having a comprehensive values or mission statement on your website, but if your employees don’t agree that you practice what you preach all your good work can be undone in the matter of a few lines from a disgruntled employee’s post on a site like Glassdoor. We’re also seeing more employees return to a previous work place at a later point of their career, and if you are having to let go talented individuals you might want to consider doing this yourself. Hiring a known entity has a lower cost to hire and is much more likely to result in a longer-term success story. To give you this option, it is important that your employees leave on good terms, both for their own future and for that of those you haven’t yet encountered.

If you do find yourself in the difficult position of having to make your furloughed employees redundant, we would love to have a conversation to see how we can help with our outplacement support services. We are passionate about sharing our expertise to really make a difference, working side by side with people until they have landed the right next opportunity for them. And it’s really more affordable than you might think.

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