From interviews and onboarding, to restructures and outplacement, HR managers are there at every step of the employee lifecycle.
Not all of these stages are full of excitement. Restructures, redundancies, offboarding and outplacement often have difficult circumstances surrounding them and employees can feel frustrated, devastated and confused in equal measure. For HR managers, it’s also difficult as they try to balance their feelings of frustration with what they can practically do to support employees.
What is in your control as a HR manager?
Have you ever ducked out to grab your morning coffee when you’ve suddenly spotted someone you know walking towards you? At that moment, you have a choice: stay on the same side of the road as them, be friendly and say hello, or put on your sunglasses and cross the road, pretending you haven’t seen them, just to avoid an awkward conversation.
I speak with many HR managers who have these kinds of encounters all the time with employees they’ve let go and, too often, they choose the latter option. They don’t feel comfortable encountering these people out in public, because they know that they could have done more to support them as they left the organisation, whatever the circumstances.
The reality is that HR leaders cannot control how individuals react to unfortunate situations like redundancies or restructuring, but they can control what support systems are in place to ensure everyone is treated well.
Encounters on the street will happen, and HR leaders need to know that they can walk with their head held high and greet old employees without that gut feeling of guilt and shame, knowing they did everything they could to do right by them.
What does doing right by employees look like?
Robust support will manifest differently for every organisation, but there are some key pillars to make sure you’re giving employees the best support possible:
- Offboarding – provide a clear and intentional offboarding process where handovers are thorough and farewells are appropriate to ensure information is retained, employees are shown they are valued and time is taken to ease the transition out.
- Exit interviews – including exit interviews in the offboarding process allows organisations to receive valuable feedback as to sources of dissatisfaction, how processes can be improved within the organisation and what can be done to retain staff.
- Acting on feedback – exit interviews will give an organisation a wealth of information to work with, and feedback can also be provided informally. What matters next is how you act on the feedback. You can show employees their value long after they’ve left the organisation just by putting new processes or systems into place based on their feedback.
- Outplacement – restructures and redundancies can come as a huge shock to employees. Providing outplacement gives them support in a time where they may feel a bit lost and cast aside. Instead of leaving them to find their way on their own, outplacement gives them the tools and opportunities they need to move forward to their next role as quickly as possible.
Remain proud of the work you do to support employees
If you’re not sure where to start with your support, it can be a good idea to use the street encounter as a guide. When you run into an old employee, there are natural questions that – in a perfect world – you should feel comfortable asking and speaking about.
- Ask: How are you going?
- Ask: What have you achieved since I last saw you?
- Show: The changes that have happened at the organisation since they have left, especially if any directly acted on their feedback.
- Create: Space to share any opportunities – remember, boomerang employees can be one of your biggest assets.
Any support you’re providing employees should help you to feel at ease when you run into employees you’ve needed to farewell. If you feel uncomfortable about any of these elements of conversation, it might be a sign you need to step up the support and advocate for better programs for leaving employees.
Want to support your employees through restructures and redundancy with effective onboarding, stay interviews, offboarding and outplacement programs? Get in touch with me today to discover how Career365’s Programs can help to implement affordable outplacement for all your employees. Click here for more information.
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