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Navigating job insecurity and redundancy
In the face of coronavirus-led closures and continued economic uncertainty, many businesses and organisations are making the difficult decision to downsize their workforce.
According to a recent analysis, the COVID-19 pandemic and consequential economic shutdown will see more than a million Australians lose their jobs over the next year.
From a management perspective, maintaining empathy and sensitivity towards your employees is key to navigating the uncertainty of the current landscape.
Remember your people are your greatest asset
As a decision-maker, you may be tempted to let go of staff in the face of lost revenue or shutdowns. Although this may make financial sense now, remember that current challenges won’t last forever. Retaining and protecting your employees now, if feasible, will put you in a position of strength for the future.
Financial relief is on its way
The Australian government has announced its JobKeeper payment scheme to encourage businesses to retain and rehire staff throughout the economic downturn. Under this scheme, eligible businesses will receive $1,500 per fortnight, per employee for up to six months.
Additionally, the government is offering temporary cash flow support, as well as various other support measures, to businesses and not-for-profits across Australia. Taking advantage of these incentives may enable you to retain employees if your organisation has been financially impacted by COVID-19.
Be transparent about job security (or insecurity)
In the wake of the coronavirus, uncertainty has become the new norm for many people. As an employer or manager, it’s your responsibility to provide clarity to employees about how their roles will change and to set expectations regarding new ways of working.
The reality is that the landscape is changing daily, and job security is in question for many industries. It’s imperative to keep employees updated on where you stand as a company and how jobs may be impacted in the coming weeks and months.
Schedule regular catch-ups with your team, be transparent about your position and give employees an opportunity to voice their concerns about job insecurity. Demonstrating honesty and emotional intelligence, and importantly acknowledging the difficulty of the situation, is paramount.
Consider alternatives to redundancy
If your organisation has been forced to scale back operations, keep in mind that job redundancy is not the only solution. Depending on your business needs, you may be able retain top talent while operating leanly by:
- Reducing work hours for some or all employees
- Reducing wages for a defined period
- Introducing deferred wage schemes or pay freezes
- Introducing furlough leave i.e. temporary employee leave under special circumstances
- Introducing sabbatical leave
- Encouraging staff to take annual leave
- Moving employees to other areas of the business that need support
Given that these are unprecedented times, employees may be willing to accept alternative working arrangements or even temporary pay cuts in order to keep their jobs.
From an organisational perspective, implementing these measures rather than redundancies will allow you retain your best people and hold steady for when the market turns around.