Article: The Counsellor: Whom to give pink slip?

Employee Relations

The Counsellor: Whom to give pink slip?

I am a HR manager of a large organization and the management has recently decided to undergo a talent restructure which requires us to give a pink slip to more than 250 employees. At a recent meeting, the consensus was to decide the 250 employees based on performance over a very short time span. However, when HR did the analysis, we realized that there are quite a few employees who have worked in the organization for more than 10 years who would have to be removed, going by this criteria. While this has to be done, it is bound to create a huge amount of unrest in the existing workforce. What would your advice be to best handle this situation?
The Counsellor: Whom to give pink slip?

I am a HR manager of a large organization and the management has recently decided to undergo a talent restructure which requires us to give a pink slip to more than 250 employees. At a recent meeting, the consensus was to decide the 250 employees based on performance over a very short time span. However, when HR did the analysis, we realized that there are quite a few employees who have worked in the organization for more than 10 years who would have to be removed, going by this criteria. While this has to be done, it is bound to create a huge amount of unrest in the existing workforce. What would your advice be to best handle this situation?

You have not described what you mean by talent restructuring, hence it is difficult to answer your question. Any reduction in workforce is done to meet certain business needs at a given point of time. Fair play must prevail even while such reduction in workforce is being achieved. This can be done by establishing principles that will enable you to identify the people who need to exit. For example, when a division/business is being closed, most of the people in that division/business, irrespective of performance or length of service, will have to exit. If you believe skills up gradation is the reason or you need to get rid of people who do not possess right skills/capabilities that are necessary due to technological changes, the selection of exiting employees is done basis the skills and inability of the incumbents to upgrade/reskill themselves.

To ensure fair play, I believe you need to clearly articulate the reasons for workforce reduction and frame the principles and guidelines that will enable you determine who must exit. The length of service or the “principle of last in first out” should be the last criterion when you have to decide between the two equals.

Any reduction in workforce is always a very unpleasant experience for both the workforce as well as management. This kind of exercise always leads to low morale and some unrest, however if you follow well established principles and guidelines and be fair in your selection of exiting employees, in long term, your people will be able to understand and appreciate what you did. The well-established communication lines, transparency and fair play will be the key to success.

Vivek is a Senior HR professional with over 35 years of experience, ranging several leadership positions, in India and abroad. He leads his consulting practice since 2003 and presently works as a Strategic HR Advisor to Reliance Industries, and is also an independent Director on the Board of Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd. Prior to this, he was based at Singapore for several years where he was Director HR - Operations at Hewlett Packard for the Asia Pacific Region.
Allow Vivek to clear your career and professional dilemmas by writing to us at  ask@peoplematters.in 

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Topics: Employee Relations, Strategic HR

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