Poor redundancy strategies are leaving employers vulnerable to having their top talent poached by their competitors, according to human capital firm Chandler Macleod Group.
Poaching is particularly prevalent among professional services, banking and finance, engineering and mining employers, says CMG's executive general manager of professional and executive recruitment, Peter Gleeson.
Recent candidate research shows that a "startling" 76 per cent of workers whose employers have made redundancies plan to move jobs within six months, he says.
The instability resulting from restructuring means stronger employers will take advantage of this situation, "and it's crucial that businesses get on the front foot in order to secure their core talent pools".
Gleeson notes that "unfortunately, at a time when all employees are looking for guidance, many organisations lack the necessary leadership skills to navigate their business through a severe economic downturn. In the 1990s recession, many of today's leaders were themselves workers or in middle management and did not gain hands-on experience in restructuring and evolving their workforces.
"Management styles needs to be significantly altered in negative times and some are only now realising that they are 'recession novices'."
Protect core talent
David Reynolds, executive general manager of Chandler Macleod Consulting, says employers should do the following to retain their pivotal talent:
Communicate openly during and after redundancies. "Communication, support, understanding and empathy are essential when redundancies have been made. Remaining employees want to know that colleagues who have lost their jobs are being well supported with counselling and outplacement services. They also want to understand how the flow-on affect will impact their workload and how they will be supported.
"The important thing is to be open and honest and to not make promises which cannot be kept. However, remaining employees should understand that they are seen as key people within the organisation who will be able to take the business through this challenging period."
Develop a core nucleus of people supplemented with contract or temporary labour. Supplementary labour will help ensure the team of pivotal talent is not burnt out.
Set mutually agreed KPIs. "Leaders need to explain the revised strategy to employees so they understand their roles will need to change as a result of the reduced headcount. Also, [employees] need to understand what's most important in their day-to-day roles to make a difference to the organisation while being aware of the upskilling and reward they will be given for taking on additional work.
"One of the most important things to put in place is rigid parameters on what's expected from each employee by setting mutually agreed KPIs and rewards."
Understand the resilience and stress levels of each employee. The best leaders, Reynolds says, "are the ones that take the time to understand what's going on with their people and have empathy and understanding. It's essential to openly communicate with individuals to understand their resilience, as well as the stress impact they are facing at work and home.
"Bottom line is you can't avoid stress and overloading work in this market. However, it's how you deal with and accommodate it, and how you treat each person. At all times, leaders need to show respect and continue to recognise and reward employees emotionally or financially. Remember, creating a strong business is a team issue."
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