This week we commenced working with the employees from a major global organisation affected by redundancies arising from a lack of demand for their product within the Australian market. While this organisation announced the number of redundancies some months ago, employees were unaware as to who exactly would lose their job up until last week. The anxiety of this situation is palpable; over the months since the announcement, all of their employees were perturbed by one question – what will happen to me?

The uncertainty of their future, and ultimately their career, was the main point of concern for the employees of this organisation. It is not hard to imagine the challenge Management faced to maintain engagement, ensure quality of production, and keep focused on OH&S, when a large percentage of the workforce were preoccupied with what they may be doing in six months’ time.

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This issue of uncertainty and subsequent engagement presents itself as a major challenge for the vast majority of organisations today, with PwC estimating its cost to the Australian economy as $11B per annum. When trying to overcome this issue, management are often faced with the dilemma, ‘You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t’. In the case of this organisation, the decision was made to be transparent and honest with their employees earlier rather than later to allow employees to begin to prepare for what may happen. This was done with the best of intentions, but the impact of uncertainty weighed heavily on the minds of employees as they contemplated what may happen to them and their families. The alternative course of action – providing little advance warning of the changes – may reduce uncertainty, but adversely creates a ‘feeding frenzy’ for the media as well as casting a villainous light on the brand of organisation.

So, as part of the management team, what could you do to better manage the inevitable issue of uncertainty and the employee engagement and productivity concerns that ensue?

At Choice Career Services, we believe our client made the right decision in being open and honest with its employees earlier rather than later. Management must take actions that better assist the organisation in effectively managing inevitable change, and there are a number of support programs to nurture this entire process. Effectively employing initiatives to deal with change and endorse proactive career management can go a long way to help improve employee engagement and reduce the cost of uncertainty to your organisation.

These initiatives include:

  • Coaching and mentoring programs
  • Resilience training
  • Encouraging employee involvement
  • Worksite physical activity programs

Choice Career Services is dedicated to helping organisations manage the human impact of change. If you are interested in exploring further ways to manage change in the face of redundancies, please contact us for more information.