Blog: How to take care of the people you let go

By KRaynes

How to take care of the people you let go

How to take care of the people you let go

HR in Hospitality event Blog: Esther O’Halloran, Chair HR in Hospitality, 10 December 2020


Many of us are facing the challenges of restructuring and redundancy, but how do you achieve this whilst maintaining your values. 

Here are some great value added advice, top tips and best practice around outplacement support and how you can help transition your employees. Victoria McLean, Founder & CEO of City CV, a leading  international career consultancy providing cross-sector, cross-function outplacement support will share their thoughts on what you need to consider during these difficult times.


  1. Be proactive: build a strong strategy before you make need to make redundancies as this will help stabilise not only those who are left but also future ee’s (think of the 2008 banking crisis crash and the impact this had on organisations). Tip one# Devise a career development strategy as this will reassure staff that you are taking positive action. Tip two# Have a redeployment strategy let them know about other opportunities as this is a positive message. Tip three# Keep communicating even when it is difficult, engaging early will protect their mental health and that of the business and help reduce some of the panic that could set in, so dedicate proper resource early.


  1. Protect your ER brand: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it” Warren Buffet. It is a critical factor in protecting your brand that you maintain the belief that you look after your people and recognise the sensitive situation you are in. Put effort into getting it right, think about the media headlines where we see “Heroes and Villains” and a major backlash on companies that are treating their staff unethically. Those you lose will talk to others and the last thing you want them to say about your company is “that it was brutal they did not care!” you want to hear them say “they treated us well”. Glassdoor is the employee TripAdvisor for companies so keep your record clean. Tip one# Communicate in a transparent and collaborative manner so people do not feel bad, you want to create brand advocates not critics. Tip two# Outplacements can vary across hierarchy, so you might have different programmes for different levels. Tip three# Show how much you value the people you are letting go and that you are supporting them to move on. Look up the full message from Brain Chesky, Co-Founder of Airbnb who wrote an incredibly powerful message to all their employees who were staying and leaving and created huge good will among their customers and employees.


  1. Employee Wellbeing: Mental health is critical at the moment so support your entire workforce, we know the amount of job losses across the UK is huge with lockdown after lockdown impacting hospitality particularly hard. Everyone going through this will personally feel fearful of losing their job and be hurting, so what can you do to alleviate that mental stress for your people. Engage sensibly don't rush in, try and protect everyone’s wellbeing Tip one# provide the tools that support wellbeing. Look up City CV Refinery App this has loads of useful tools. Tip two# signpost early, tell people what each of the next steps will be, give them access to key contacts and support such as your EAP, Hospitality Action, MIND or charities where they can get support on dealing with negative thought patterns. Tip three# think about extending the wellbeing support to everyone not just those being made reductant. A robust and transparent outplacement support will make huge difference.


  1. Take a bespoke approach: adaptable and flexible personalised outplacement support can mean the world to employee’s and for those who have been with you for many years it can make all the difference. That extra support can help them choose what is best for them to move on swiftly. Tip one# one size might not fit all, so tailor for different levels and job families. Tip two# don't make assumptions on what anyone’s needs might be, the market has changed so much. People will be feeling vulnerable so allow them to choose the best options for them, it helps them feel they are in control and makes them feel stronger. Tip three# allow all of your staff to plan for their future and help coach them through internal pathways which will support retention and might open up more internal routes for those who are still with you. “It takes years to perfect the art of writing an interview generating CV” Outplacement support can be really inclusive.


  1. Value your alumni: think about the value you have in the people you are making redundant you have invested heavily in them and you never know when you may be able to rehire a former employee. Boomerang employees are a talent pool you cannot ignore. You can cut the cost of hiring someone new by 50% if you rehire those you have let go, they already know your culture. It also speaks volumes and adds credibility to you being an employer of choice when you rehire. Really easy to keep the door open and connections going through social media and help you recover at pace. Tip one# arrange exit interviews to understand what might be going on and keep your relationship with them going. Tip two# establish good channels to keep in touch identify specific talent you may want to rehire and make the effort to keep in touch. Tip three# set up an Alumni group to stay connected particularly with larger groups, LinkedIn makes it easy. Hilton have done this well there is great example of how an online Alumni network can work on LinkedIn. You never know when you want to rehire and their strapline is “always be part of team Hilton” and it is a great way to share ideas.


  1. Maintain productivity and morale: ‘survivors guilt’ is real and has a huge impact on the productivity of those who remain employed, they can see how you treat the ones who are leaving. Consider the impact of your actions on how your remaining employee’s view you as an employer. Show you value them. Tip one# extend wellbeing support to all your remaining teams, they will be missing their valued colleagues. Tip two# provide coaching or online resources as redundancies in one part of the organisation can make others want to start job hunting too, as they worry they might be next in the firing line. Tip three# think about providing some practical support for those who might have taken on more responsibility as their colleagues have left.


People will appreciate the value of what you are doing and feel positively about their future with you, remember they will be sharing their thoughts widely on social media, so it is beneficial to look after your teams, both those that remain and those you have had to let go.