Handling mass redundancies, through HR support

Following the news that Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the snap decision to fire the entire Supercharger team after its division chief refused to make further layoffs happen, Emma Christian, people consultant at AfterAthena, looks at how HR should handle mass redundancies.

What does this example with Tesla teach us about mass redundancies?

Tesla’s approach to handling mass redundancies had been widely criticised due to the lack of transparent communication.

This of course, led to confusion and trust issues. It is essential for businesses to get change processes right; poor handling can significantly impact employee morale.

The result of Tesla’s approach left many employees feeling demotivated and undervalued, so businesses should consider how their actions will impact their long-term culture and reputation.

How should HR conduct mass layoffs effectively?

It is essential for HR to support their business leaders in developing a clear plan and strategy ahead of commencing any process.

They should ensure that any plan adheres to employment legislation, which is very clear here in the UK for any large-scale change process. Given the impact on individuals, businesses should ensure communication is transparent and clear, giving details of the process, timelines and support.

Upskilling managers who are going to be decision makers will also help ensure consultations are handled properly.

How can HR handle the experience of outgoing staff?

Where possible it is good practice to provide outplacement support, such as CV writing, inviting local employers onsite and providing financial planning support.

Further, it is essential that employees understand their entitlements, providing clear information around their benefits and severance packages will help to alleviate stress.

If you have an EAP in place, ensure employees know how to access the support or facilitate workshops to develop skills to support job searching.

How can HR reassure remaining staff and retain them?

Reassuring the employees who remain is often something businesses forget about. It is vital that transparent communication is provided to not only those directly affected, but to the wider workforce as well.

HR should therefore encourage communication on the reasons behind the redundancies to avoid unnecessary gossip and worry. Following the conclusion of the process, it is a good idea for businesses to share future plans and how the remaining employees fit into those.

HR can help promote a positive work environment post change by encouraging open dialogue and providing channels for employees to express concerns.

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