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Restructures: Getting the best out of your people

No matter the motivation for or scope of a restructure it will inevitably impact your people. For change to be successfully implemented, it means engaging meaningfully with them all, including those who will be losing their jobs. It is vital your people are treated respectfully and consulted appropriately throughout.

Aligning people strategy to business strategy

Aligning the people strategy with the overarching business strategy is paramount to unlocking its full potential. Successful alignment goes beyond the org chart, delving into the heart of culture, talent management, and employee engagement. As such, HR must play a pivotal role. From assessing and integrating talent in new teams to identifying key personnel and bridging any skills gaps, HR will necessarily be in the thick of it.

In the short term, it may feel like two steps forward one step back – especially if the restructure is motivated by the need to cut costs – but it is imperative to financially invest in the process.

This includes commissioning comprehensive communication strategies, targeted training, and change-management initiatives, to ensure your people are engaged and motivated in the new world.

Identifying overlapping roles

It is common to discover overlapping roles and responsibilities. Rather than viewing this as a stumbling block, see it as an opportunity to streamline operations and manage your talent. Conduct a thorough assessment to identify likely inefficiencies and potential redundancies. As stated above, it is important to equip your newly structured teams with the tools and training needed to adapt to new roles, developing a more efficient, productive, and agile workforce.

Navigating redundancies

One of the most challenging aspects of a restructure are redundancies. They should be approached with empathy, compassion, and diligence. Beyond your legal obligations, in a digital age of online transparency, how someone leaves your organisation is as important as your onboarding process. It is imperative that a transparent, fair, and proper procedure is followed, in line with your internal policies and ACAS guidance. This is not just about reducing the risk of potential claims against the business, this is about reflecting your cultural values and doing the right thing by your employees.

Affected employees must be consulted and provided with clear explanations, support services, and, if possible, assistance in finding new opportunities. Treating employees with respect and empathy, during this challenging time, is crucial for maintaining morale among those who remain, as well as your company's reputation.

Retaining knowledge

With changes in roles and potential departures, there's a risk of losing valuable knowledge held by individuals and teams within the business. Implementing knowledge-transfer programmes can ensure that critical information is preserved. Encourage mentorship and collaboration between experienced and newer team members, and document processes and best practices to maintain continuity and facilitate a smoother transition for everyone involved.

Taking the team with you

Successfully navigating a restructure requires the commitment and engagement of your entire workforce. By involving employees in the decision-making processes, you can foster a sense of ownership and involvement. Solicit feedback, address concerns, and communicate how everyone’s contributions align with the wider company goals. When employees understand their role in the bigger picture, they are more likely to embrace the changes with enthusiasm.

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Be ambassadors of the company’s values

Organisational values are the guiding principles that drive your people’s behaviour. It is crucial they are maintained during times of change. Leaders should embody these values in every aspect of their decision-making, particularly in regard to the way in which employees are treated during exits and transitions. Transparency, empathy, and respect should be paramount, ensuring that those affected by the restructure are treated with dignity and fairness.

Simultaneously, for those transitioning into the new organisation, the promotion of values is a key element of onboarding. Leaders should actively work to embed the core values into the fabric of the new organisational culture by living them out. This way the company not only traverses the challenges of restructuring with integrity but also sets expectations and establishes a foundation for a unified and values-driven workplace culture.

Supporting resilience and adaptability

Organisational restructuring can be a stressful time for employees and managers. Providing resources and support, such as training programmes and opportunities to feedback, can help them navigate these changes positively. Recognise and celebrate achievements and milestones throughout the process to boost morale and reinforce a positive workplace culture.

Taking time to work with the remaining employees to ensure that they are motivated and engaged, is of vital importance to maintaining your strategic direction. You’ll need to give support to those working in new roles or teams, including focused training programmes and team-building initiatives, to assist them in reaching their full potential and in developing strong working relationships expeditiously.

In brief

No doubt about it, whether it is a change in job role, responsibilities, location, or the threat of redundancy, restructures are unsettling. Because they involve people, their behaviours, and change, it is critical that HR is involved from the beginning. Whether it is ensuring due diligence and legal compliance or maintaining productivity and performance, as the people function, HR will be pivotal throughout. Expertly navigating the inevitable people issues can be the difference between a successful outcome or not.

Victoria Beadle

Victoria Beadle

A director of our strategic HR consultancy, Vic is a CIPD qualified HR leader who is passionate about organisations creating cultures that empower people to be successful. She is an advocate for employee engagement that gives people a voice.

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