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‘May you live in interesting times.’

What seems like a well-wish, a blessing even, is actually a curse. 

Some trace its origins to ancient China, others to the 20th-century American politician. Whatever the source, though, the ‘interesting times’ stand unfailingly for the times of trouble, difficulties, and chaos.

And it looks like we are living amidst them right now. 

The pandemic fallout, the war in Ukraine, the climate change crisis – all of it has a huge impact on countries’ economies all over the world, including Australia.

RBA predicts that the risk of a recession could be as high as 80% over the next two years unless inflation can be controlled.

Many businesses already feel the unnerving economic condition – over 90% battle rising costs. To survive the turmoil, they plan to take drastic measures – 75% admit that their businesses will take staff-related steps, with 32% planning to review or reduce overheads and 20% to consolidate departments or functions (Deel / YouGov).

The dire circumstances, unfortunately, did not bypass one of my clients.

They faced a loss of some customers’ accounts, a decrease in the pipeline and an overall economic downturn. With a heavy heart, they came to a decision to reduce costs by restructuring and letting some of the staff go. 

The company has turned to UnscriptedHR for help with this challenging and sensitive task.

Health Check

I know that restructuring / job cuts is not an easy decision. And when it already comes to it, it has to be carried out extremely carefully. I am aware that we are dealing with peoples’ livelihoods, and so is the employer. The situation is extremely tough on both parties. 

The Health Check is always the first step I take. I always do a diligent and in-depth investigation of the company’s HR state.

In this case, however, human touch and empathy were as important (or even more) as meticulousness and thorough analysis. I ensured the business owner was on board with this approach from the very beginning. 

Together, we assessed critical roles and reviewed areas where reductions are required, as well as those that need changing and restructuring. We have established the process steps and their execution.

Client Process Support

Restructuring is a sensitive and critical process also from a legal point of view. It is why, throughout the whole process, I supported my client with advice on legal requirements, including redundancy payments, outplacement and communication scripts. 

Affected Employees’ Support

We could not forget about the affected employees in the process, so the next critical step was organising the employee assistance support.

In this case, the honest and proper communication was a key. We conducted it with utmost gentleness and empathy. We ensured that impacted team members had appropriate counselling available at all times. We also put in place advisory services on the career transition options.

Employees’ Assistance

We must bear in mind that the reorganisation also affects employees who are staying with the company. It’s not always an immediate and direct impact, like taking over or merging one’s role. Mostly, it’s the psychological impact of the transformation. Remaining employees may feel anxious about their own future within the company. We knew that we had to address such doubts and uncertainties immediately.

We had CEOs / Business Leaders talking through all the changes happening and clearly explaining their impact on the business and remaining teams. Such a step was imperative to diminish employees’ worries, especially the fear of a possible role/job loss.

I would love to say that after 25+ years in HR, I found the magic method to make restructuring easy. But I can’t. It’s always tough; the key is to approach it with as much empathy and understanding as possible. Employers really do not want to rid themselves of their talents; if they do so – they are pinned to the wall; it’s their last resort. Employees really do not want to leave their jobs – the source of financial security and often their second home. The experience is harrowing for both sides. 

And if there is anything I wish people could take away from it, it is mutual understanding and treating each other with respect till the very end.

I always encourage employers to show how much they value their people even at this last step – a small token of appreciation, a thank you note – even the smallest gesture can make a difference. And I know it is not easy for the employees, but I encourage them not to burn bridges.

Economy changes. Tables turn. Some day, an ex-employer may be the current one again. 

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What Our Clients Say

"Culture is a critical part of our business, indeed any business, so I'm super protective of who I trust to advise and help foster our culture & people. Kath has been instrumental in helping us at Skie take a great organic culture and nurture it while adding HR rigour that is complementary and right fit for our people and organisation."

Adam Troughear, Managing Director, Skie

“I had the privilege of engaging Unscripted HR's services for a critical senior role recruitment at our company. Kath's genuine, enthusiastic, meticulous, and compassionate approach greatly aided me in clarifying our requirements and sifting through various candidates to precisely define our ideal fit. From creating the job description to onboarding the perfect candidate, I felt consistently supported. I wouldn't hesitate to collaborate with Kath again and wholeheartedly endorse her to others.”

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Nitu Saksena, Founder and Director, SaaSTrix

"Kath brings professionalism, strong expertise and a commercial mindset to people and culture management coupled with a positive energy and kindness that radiates throughout her work.

She is able to provide technical HR support while coaching owners and leaders with sound recommendations that enable them to remain in control of their operations while bringing out the best in their teams."

Lee Morgan, Partner and Director, Cure Collective
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