Unilever has announced a major management overhaul/restructuring across five divisions including Beauty, Personal Care, and Ice Cream. The leading FMCG has planned to let go of 5% of its workforce worldwide. This restructuring has put the jobs of more than 1500 senior employees at risk.
The FMCG’s CEO Alan Jope revealed that this restructuring has been carried out to make Unilever more customer-focused make the delivery system more accountable.
Let’s not mince words. For anybody who has ever worked in corporate, two words, ‘organizational restructuring’ will immediately lead to a sense of foreboding in their hearts.
Deep down we all know this is just a fancy code word for layoffs. Organizations often reorganize to appeal to different markets or enhance their chances of growth. However, in both cases, it involves shelving job roles that are now deemed obsolete.
The term first came into prominence in the 90s when US firms decided to opt for lean manufacturing and other efficiency strategies from the Japanese leading to a mass downsizing of the workforce – in plainer terms layoffs.
In recent years companies like CarDekho have laid off 70 employees. Manufacturing titan Renault has laid off almost 2000 employees in the name of restructuring as well.
Restructuring is inevitable for the survival of the organization at times. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be more humane. Here are some tactics to prevent restructuring from being a complete bloodbath (metaphorically!):
Prepare HR managers for the inevitable:
As we have mentioned before, employees are well-aware that any restructuring will probably endanger their tenure at your company. So it’s advisable to make an arrangement beforehand by arranging psychological counselling. Managers also have to be trained on how to have difficult conversations and break the bad news to the employees.
Be as transparent as possible on what decisions have been made and why
In such cases, workers are already smarting under the knowledge that they will be jobless in a few days. So aim for conveying management decisions to your employees as transparently as possible. They should know that the final decision of who stays and who goes has been made after careful consideration and objective criteria and not due to favouritism and politics will go a long way to reduce the feeling of helplessness and anger.
Provide career counselling support and quality severance terms to those who have been laid off. Layoffs may be unavoidable but that doesn’t mean you can’t make those who are laid –off feel secure and respected. Provide recommendation letter/references. Make you’re your severance terms are generous. This will enable your ex-employee to leave on a good note
Arrange for training whenever possible.
Is it necessary that a specific employee has to be laid off? Is there no way they can be a fit for a new role or capacity? If you are not unwilling to let a good employee leave then why not arrange for some training?