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During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of redundancies across the UK rose quicker than during the 2008 financial crisis. Fortunately, the world is gradually beginning to return to some degree of pre-pandemic normalcy. However, as businesses focus on recovery, it is clear that job losses are far from behind us.

In fact, a recent report by Acas suggests that 1 in 5 employers are considering making redundancies over the next year in an effort to ease financial worries.

COVID-19 recovery is proving to be almost as big a challenge for businesses as the crisis itself. And for many, downsizing the workforce will be the only viable option. But for others, redundancy may not be the ‘magic solution’ that it seems on the surface.

It’s time to rethink redundancies in the post-pandemic landscape, and consider whether identifying alternative solutions could have a more positive overall impact.

The Impact of Redundancy

Many businesses see redundancy as a way to save money. And it is. But it can also have a number of negative impacts. One such impact is employee wellbeing. Which, as we all know, is one of the most urgent issues businesses are facing today.

Illness. Isolation. Grief. Disruption. Frustration. Exhaustion. Anxiety. The pandemic has caused many of us to experience at least one – and sometimes all – of these feelings on a daily basis. Employees are dealing with changes in how they work, and changes in how they live, all at once. And so it’s really not all that surprising to learn that 68% of employers believe the level of wellbeing in the workplace has declined.

Businesses must realise that redundancies don’t just affect those losing their jobs; that the effect can easily and instantly ripple through the entire organisation. Remaining employees wonder if they’re next for the chop. They struggle with the loss of those that have been instrumental in building their professional support system. They take on additional workloads to ‘pull up the slack’, increasing the risk of employee burnout. Redundancy can have significant impacts on everyone in the company.

Redundancy Alternatives

Prior to jumping into redundancy plans, businesses should pause to consider whether there are any alternatives that could help to put the business in a more secure and sustainable financial position, without posing significant risk to workplace wellbeing which could spark a wave of resignations and a large number of vacancies to fill.

Options may include…

  • Flexible schedules to accommodate part time work and job sharing
  • Reducing or restricting overtime hours
  • Internal hiring, filling vacancies with existing staff
  • Retraining existing employees for lateral moves into new departments

Remaining Compliant

Unfortunately, alternatives won’t always be suitable, and it is inevitable that businesses will announce redundancies during this difficult period of recovery. Large businesses especially are anticipated to be making cuts, with Acas reporting that those with over 250 employees are 20% more likely than SMEs to make job losses.

Where redundancy is the most justifiable option, it’s crucial that the process is undertaken in a way that remains compliant with current UK legislation. This not only helps to protect the wellbeing of the workforce, but also your business reputation.

Collective Consultation practices must be followed if more than 20 job losses are made within 90 days. You can read the full guidance for making redundancies here.

Support When You Need it Most

At Bond Williams, we’re committed to supporting businesses through this challenging time with advice and assistance relating to all aspects of hiring, onboarding, wellbeing, and retention. Get in touch with our team today for tailored support.

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