Make staff reductions economically responsible, socially acceptable and appreciative

What does a reduction in staff mean?

Personnel costs account for a significant proportion of total costs in many companies. When the volume of business is reduced, staff is often no longer fully utilised, while personnel costs remain at their full level.

If it becomes apparent that utilisation will remain permanently lower, a reduction in staff is a logical and sensible measure. A staff reduction is a cut for the company and for the employees affected by the staff reduction. Therefore, staff reductions must be implemented in an economically responsible, socially acceptable and appreciative manner.

Possibilities and measures for staff reduction

In the context of a corporate restructuring, it may also be necessary to part with staff in order to contribute significantly to cost reduction. In addition to cautious reduction of commercial jobs, look in particular at administration for potential savings. If there is really a lack of operational workload for commercial staff because market structures have changed, you will of course not be able to avoid reducing staff in the commercial sector. In these cases, you should also act boldly to protect the employees who are still needed.

Plan and implement staff reductions correctly

Existen dos opciones básicas para la reducción de plantilla, una reducción vía Acuerdos individuales y una reducción Despidos. En caso de recortes importantes de plantilla, puede ser necesario Conciliación de intereses y plan social.

Un enfoque sistemático y rápido también tiene sentido por razones psicológicas: cuanto antes se comunique al personal restante que permanecerá a bordo, mejor se podrá reconstruir la motivación de la plantilla y dirigirla hacia el futuro.

Si se va a llevar a cabo una reducción de plantilla a gran escala y hay representación de los trabajadores, el comité de empresa debe ser informado de antemano. Pero en las empresas sin comité de empresa, la dirección debe informar a los trabajadores con antelación sobre la situación económica y la inminente reducción de plantilla.

En ese momento debe hacerse una recomendación: En una fase en la que tenga que reducir personal, prestará atención prioritaria a los empleados que tenga que reducir. Esta atención se pierde para el personal que desea conservar. Aquí reside un peligro, porque son precisamente los empleados de su futura plantilla los que ahora necesitan confianza y aprecio.

Consider volunteers

As a first step, try to convince possible volunteers to leave the company. You can encourage the motivation of volunteers to leave the company with a “sprinter bonus”. Of course, among these volunteers will be high performers and high potentials who have very good chances on the labour market. If the company cannot bear the full personnel costs, courageously part with these strong employees, even if this step seems to be a deep cut for the company. You will see that the gaps that arise will soon be filled by employees from lower-ranking positions.

Take early retirement into account

In the next step, look at employees from cohorts close to retirement. Approach individual older employees personally about the possibility of early retirement. The company can make this step palatable to employees by offering to financially compensate for part of the pension gap that arises. There are interesting tax options for this.

Establish a social plan

If more jobs have to be cut, you may not be able to avoid a reconciliation of interests and social plan. With these measures the future of the company through a reduction in staff and the conditions for the employees who are being made redundant. The former is an important component because companies usually do not become successful through staff reductions alone. The causes of economic difficulties often lie in an unfavourable strategic orientation or in incorrect operational management. Employee representatives have a legitimate interest in eliminating the real causes of economic difficulties if they are already signalling a willingness to make often unavoidable staff reductions.


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