ST ForumBe humane, professional when retrenching staff

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ST Forum: Be humane, professional when retrenching staff
Jul 28 2020

Retrenching staff is one of the most challenging tasks that managers have to undertake (Firms laying off staff must keep S'porean core: NTUC, July 25).

As much as companies have the prerogative to make retrenchment decisions, they also have the moral obligation to carry out retrenchments professionally and humanely.

Some best practices include according due respect to affected workers. Receiving news that their services are no longer required is an emotional moment, and it can cause the recipient to go through an emotional roller-coaster ride.

Meetings are best conducted individually in a private room to accord the recipient due privacy to process the news.

Whenever possible, a reasonable period of time must be given to allow workers to pack their personal belongings and say farewell to their co-workers.

Unless a security threat is imminent, workers must never be escorted out of the office as if they are not worthy of being trusted. This act can have even more of an impact (on a person's pride) than losing one's job.

Another critical point often overlooked is the use of the right language. To tell a worker that he has been made redundant is not quite the same as saying his job no longer exists.

Separating the incumbent from the job can make a difference in how the news is received. In reality, the worker needs to understand that other than losing his job, nothing else has been lost, and he can take his experience and skills to another employer.

The golden rule for human resources is to advise management to do all that is reasonable to protect the dignity of retrenched workers. Everyone else in the company will be watching, and the day will come when it has to hire again.

I am sure any company would want to be known as one that respects individuals, even at the point of service separation.

Paul Heng

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