Tag Archives: organisation

Outplacement: What are ‘Employers of Choice’ doing in the Face of Job Cuts?

With the current downturn in the mining industry, management are making tough decisions regarding asset optimisation, cost management, risk management and profitability. Naturally, head count is being scrutinised more closely than ever. What isn’t hitting the headlines is what genuine ‘employers of choice’ are doing to support their exiting workforce and their remaining staff.

A leading Global Engineering Consultancy recently made a corporate decision to discontinue a once profitable consulting arm of their Australian operation. With increased competition, reduction in mining demand and eroding profit margin a very difficult restructure resulted in the redundancy of 40 national engineering roles. As an employee-owned organisation that lives its company values which include Teamwork, Caring, Integrity, and Excellence, this decision was not made easily. Throughout the decision-making process Management was naturally mindful to uphold these values, and BeilbyOPRA Consulting was engaged to provide Outplacement and Career Transition services to individuals for a period of up to 3 months.

The objectives of the project were to ensure that individual staff were adequately supported through this period of transition and ultimately, to gain alternate employment as quickly as possible.

BeilbyOPRA’s Solution:

BeilbyOPRA Consulting’s solution was led by a team of Organisational Psychologists and supported by Consultants being on site in seven locations throughout Australia on the day that the restructure was communicated to employees. Consultants provided immediate support to displaced individuals through an initial face-to-face meeting, where the Career Transition program was introduced.  From here, individuals chose whether or not to participate in the program, the key topics of which included:

  • Taking Stock – Understanding and effectively managing the emotional reactions to job change.
  • Assessment – Identifying skills and achievements through psychometric assessment and feedback sessions.
  • Preparation – Learning about time management skills; developing effective marketing tools; resume writing and cover letter preparation; telephone techniques.
  • Avenues to Job Hunting – Tapping into the hidden job market; responding to advertisements; connecting with recruitment consultants.
  • Interviews – Formats; preparation; how to achieve a successful interview.
  • Financial Advice – BeilbyOPRA partnered with a national financial services firm to offer participants complimentary financial advice.

 The Outcome:

Of the 40 individuals whose positions were made redundant:

  • 78% engaged in the first day of the program.
  • Of this group, 48% participated in the full program, as the remainder only utilised one or two of the services before securing employment.
  • 83% of those who participated in the full program gained employment within 3 months

Some of the learning outcomes from this project for organisations include:

  • Conduct thorough due diligence before committing to the restructure.
  • Create a steering committee to oversee the redundancy process.
  • Ensure accurate, relevant and timely communication is provided to all those involved.
  • Have a trial run of the entire process.
  • Have a dedicated internal project manager to facilitate the outplacement project.
  • Ensure that the staff who remain employed with your organisation, ‘the survivors’, are informed and supported.

In summary, the value of outplacement support was best captured by the National HR Manager who stated:

“It is about supporting staff and upholding our values through good and difficult times. From a legal, cultural and branding perspective outplacement support is critical. As the market changes we will hope to re-employ some of the affected staff and some will become clients in the future’.

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Culture Surveys and Your Organisation

Measuring culture and attaining data can provide valuable information for any size organisation. How this data is positioned, analysed, and used however is where the real value can be found. Schneider, Ehrhart, and Macey (2013) assert that when looking past Organisational Culture from a scholarly perspective, executives in organisations wish to know what their corporate culture is, understand what they can change and how, and how they can create competitive advantage through organisational culture. Although the first step of the process appears to be the measurement of culture, there are in fact many other steps to consider in the process. Below are some points to consider when measuring employee data in an organisation.

  1. Reasons for engaging in a measurement tool

When implementing a measurement process in an organisation it is important to clearly define the reasons for doing so. Is it for the board, customers, or stakeholders benefit? Is it for the benefit of the executive team to guide future planning? Is it an affirmation to HR that they are on the right track? Or is it to develop the best company in all sense of the word. It is important to set expectations of what will be done with the data. Asking employees to invest time to respond to workplace surveys can inevitably lead them to expect time invested back in explaining the results and strategies for the future. Understanding from the outset the reasons for using the tool is important.

2. Deciding on a measuring tool

Not all survey tools are created equal. In order to have a robust process it is important that the tools used are fit for purpose, and are reliable and valid. Gaining an accurate picture of the current organisational culture means that decisions made about future initiatives are made on the basis of sound data. A sound measuring tool should pass a series of psychometric tests, provide evidence that individual data can be aggregated to the organisational level, and be linked to performance (Denison Culture, 2013).

3. Leveraging the data to create competitive advantage

Once data has been obtained, an action plan around next steps needs to be developed. This can include things such as creating concrete plans for the future based on an accurate understanding of culture survey results; assessing current leadership and “people” need; understanding of how engaging and leveraging human capital can be attained.

4. Repeat

Measuring progress and obtaining feedback for continued improvement based on a clear set of business performance and organisational culture metrics is important for sustained culture improvement and change.

Schneider, B., Ehrhart, M. G., & Macey, W. H. (2013). Organizational climate and culture. Annual review of psychology64, 361-388.

Denison Culture (2013). What are you really measuring with a culture survey? Denison research notes, 8, 1.

Welcome Onboard. Tips for Staff Recruitment by Dr. Sarah Burke

I estimate there will be a lot of ‘first days’ for staff in January 2014, if the volume of assessment testing for recruitment that we did leading up to Christmas is anything to go by.  But consider these facts:

•       Half of all senior external hires fail within 18 months in a new position;

•       Almost 1/3 of all new hires employed for less than 6 months are already job searching;

•       According to the US Dept of Labour, a total of 25% of the working population undergoes a career transition each year.

This level of churn comes at a cost. Estimates of direct and indirect costs for a failed executive-level hire can be as high as $2.7 million (Watkins, 2003).  And for each employee who moves on, there is many others in the extended network – peers, bosses, and direct reports whose performance is also influenced.  One of the important ways that HR can positively impact on this level of churn is through the strategic use of a process known as onboarding.

What is Onboarding?

Employee onboarding is the process of getting new hires positively adjusted to the role, social, and cultural aspects of their new jobs as quickly and smoothly as possible. It is a process through which new hires learn the knowledge, skills, and behaviours required to function effectively within an organisation. The bottom line is that the sooner we can bring people up to speed in their roles and wider organisation, the more expediently they will contribute.

Conventional wisdom is that a new hire will take approximately 6 months before they can meaningfully contribute (Watkins, 2003).  I suspect that for most organisations, a 6 month lag time before seeing a return on a new hire is untenable, particularly in the NZ economy when 97.2% of us employ less than 20 staff (MBIE Fact Sheet, 2013).  One of the important ways that HR can accelerate the adjustment process for new hires is by having an onboarding programme that is given a profile inside the business, and supported by key staff.

While the specifics of an onboarding programme can vary organisation to organisation, the below is offered as a guide for HR managers to proactively manage their onboarding efforts.  Please review my presentation Welcome Onboard for more direction in terms of supporting staff in the initial days, weeks, and months of their employment.

 Top Tips for Supporting Staff Onboarding:

  • Make good use of the pre-start to get the workspace organised, to schedule key meetings, and for sharing useful organisational and team information (i.e., team bio’s, blogs, key organisational reading).
  • Give your onboarding programme a brand/logo/tagline that communicates the experience and gives it importance/profile.
  • Customise your onboarding programme to reflect individual need; onboarding is not a one-size fits all.
  • Personalise the first day, including a formal announcement of entry
  • Create an onboarding plan detailing key projects, firsts, objectives, and deliverables that are expected by your new hire.
  • Monitor progress over time using milestones; 30 – 60 – 90 – 120 days up to 1 year post-entry.
  • Identify 2-3 quick wins that your new hire can take responsibility for in order to build credibility and establish momentum (note: a quick win must be a meaningful win, not necessarily a big win).
  • Involve your new hire in projects that will require working cross-functionally.
  • Include organisational role models as mentors and coaches.  Remember a relatively small set of connections is far better than a lot of superficial acquaintances.
  • Be prepared to provide initial structure and direction to your new hire.  Remember, most people if thrown in the deep end to ‘sink or swim’ will sink.
  • Use technology to facilitate the onboarding process, including the flow of information.