Everything Everywhere? Darlington to Manilla?
Today’s likely to have been a pretty hectic one for the good folks in HR (and PR) at Everything Everywhere – the new name for the combined Orange and T-Mobile businesses – since newsrooms across the country have been running the story of how night shift workers based in Darlington, were offered alternative roles in Manilla having been put at risk by the telecoms giant. This report in The Telegraph for example.
Aside from the debate around whether anybody other than shareholders ever benefit from off-shoring customer services, it highlights how big organisations find it really difficult to get things right when it comes to managing their relationship with employees. No one doubts that an organisation like Everything Everywhere, will have followed the very letter of the law when it came to these proposed changes, but perhaps that’s why they got this so wrong. In an effort to make sure the process was beyond reproach, they failed to get to grips with how the individuals affected would feel, and how negatively that would impact on their employer reputation.
So what should they have done? Absolutely they were right to have defined a process that was legally compliant, but that’s only half the job. They needed to think about how best to communicate and support their colleagues. Set the right tone, be honest and offer realistic options. They ought to have spent more time explaining the business case, and how they’d be supporting those whose jobs are at risk to find other opportunities, both within the organisation and via external partners. And having invested some time at face to face meetings, they ought to have provided additional information, training and support resources – information portals, career coaching sessions, outplacement support etc, to help colleagues explore what their options were moving forward.
None of us dispute that in business, tough decisions have to be made, and sometimes that means people will lose their jobs, but handled well, most of us who have gone through redundancy reflect that it was the push we needed to pursue bigger and better things. So aside from a moral obligation to treat people well, it makes sense for all involved to spend time thinking about the human angle of the business decisions they take, and how a well managed, emotionally intelligent communications plan can make all the difference to everyone, everywhere.