I want to talk today about redundancy consultation and alternative proposals. I think we all understand that redundancy consultation is because of a proposal by the organisation to reduce jobs, but that word PROPOSAL is absolutely key in consultations. A lot of organisations don't realise this and don't act in that way - it is purely a proposal.
Consultation is not just (as I've said before) about ticking boxes. It's also not just about focusing on the company's proposal and making sure people understand what's going to happen. It's also ensuring that employees have the time to digest that proposal and think about alternatives.
The ideal outcome of a redundancy consultation is that between you and the employee representatives (or the employees directly) you've actually mitigated all redundancies, ie you don't need to make any redundancies - that's what the aim should be. Obviously on most occasions that's not quite what you get, but often you do reduce the number of redundancies, certainly the number of compulsory redundancies through maximising volunteers, etc. From a structural perspective, that proposal is really key because employees may well have really valid alternative proposals that either mitigate redundancies, or are a much better structure for the business going forward - or both.
I've personally been involved in some big consultations in Blue Chip organisations where, across the world, we've been looking at redundancies and the Heads of those departments / functions within those global organisations have put proposals together. Then somebody in an office, or on the shop floor, has suggested alternatives to that really senior person’s proposals, and the senior person has almost kicked themselves
because they didn't think of that better idea, the better way of structuring, or the better way of doing things. In those scenarios - genuinely - we've reduced compulsory redundancies, so we've reduced the impact on people. From a business perspective we've ended up with a better structure and a better way of doing things.
So, please do not see consultation as a tick-box exercise - it's absolutely not. You've got the chance to really make a difference with those alternative proposals. Listening (and I don't just mean pretending you're listening - I mean listening to understand) what those proposals are is so very critical - I've seen it myself and we owe it to employees to listen to them properly and really consider their alternative proposals.
Obviously, as ever, if you need any help in this area or about workplace mediations, as ever, give us a call.