Over the last two weeks we kicked off the first event in our luncheon series, where we gather a small number of HR professionals to discuss relevant and thought-provoking topics around the subject of outplacement. The events were held in Sydney and Melbourne, and were both booked out within days.

The chosen topic for the first event centred around redundancy, social media and Generation Y, incorporating case studies from the redundancies at HMV in the UK and  Toyota Australia. These genuine examples brought life into the debate and highlighted how important it was not to dismiss the risk of employee and media backlash on social media when planning for redundancy.

With some great company and stimulating conversation, a number of key conclusions were formed:

  • Managing redundancies is always a difficult challenge for management. It is important for management to be transparent, consistent, honest and proactive with their communications and behaviours. Employees respect honesty, and can always tell when something is being hidden from them.
  • If the redundancy situation does turn negative, it can be useful to ask yourself the question: ‘What have we done to cause a reaction like that?’ It is an excellent self-reflection challenge, which can lead to an improved outcome in the future.
  • Social media is a communications tool, which can be used constructively as well as destructively. Management have a responsibility to create an environment or culture where employees self-moderate their use of social media in a manner which is respectful of their organisation and their fellow employees. This model actually exists within many Australian companies today, and more companies should adopt this attitude of a culture change
  • Banning the use of social media is a pointless exercise and will not prevent disgruntled employees from posting via personal mobile devices or at home
  • When planning for redundancies it is important to have a check list of organisational assets to safeguard in the event the conversation is taken in the wrong way. This includes physical assets along with intangibles such as company brand and reputation
  • Employees need to understand that their personal brand is important at all times. Negative comments on social media about former employees can reflect badly not only on the company, but on the individual, and may harm opportunities for future employment

Companies must acknowledge they won’t always have all the answers when planning for the difficult issue of redundancies. It is important to remember that there is professional help available in the form of outplacement support, which can not only assist your employees but also provide invaluable support to a management team when planning the redundancy exercise.