21 Ways of Avoiding Redundancies

Redundancies typically are a way of reducing costs in a business, but there may be alternative measures that can be taken.  Ideally address this issue with your employees – they are adults and will understand the problem you are facing if you share it with them.  They may have ideas about reducing costs in their own areas are they will be more likely to understand and buy in to any solutions.

Here are some ideas to start the discussions (this list is not exhaustive and they won’t all apply in your situation):

  1. Stop paid overtime.  If you have some specialists who have too much work, can they train other employees to help?  Offer time in lieu, rather than paying for overtime where possible.
  2. Reduce pay.  Obviously, this will not be popular and employees may not feel able to agree to this, but they might agree, especially if it is temporary and you will make it up later.
  3. Stop discretionary benefits and review individuals’ need for expensive job-related benefits, such as company cars.
  4. Stop allowances, where possible.  For example do you need the expensive shift pattern, if there is a cheaper one? Will employees agree to work flexibly without shift pay, if it means fewer redundancies? 
  5. Reduce the number of working days – it would save you money if you are closed for an extra day.  It will save money for the employees too, since they will have a day less to travel to work, less need for childcare etc.  You might be able to benefit both parties e.g. by reducing from 37.5 hours over 5 days to 36 hours over 4 days.  Note: if you can allow access to on-line training from home, employees might be happy to develop themselves in their extra free time, which could be useful to you too.
  6. Reduce hours in the week.  If you can’t reduce days, you might be able to reduce the hours worked each day.
  7. Change to an annual hours type system, to allow fewer hours now and more once the work returns. 
  8. Change contracts to allow temporary lay-off or short-time working, whenever there is insufficient work.
  9. Continue with zoom meetings etc. to save money on expenses.
  10. Continue some home working, to enable a move to smaller premises, with hot-desking.
  11. Encourage buying of extra holidays; unpaid leave; and sabbaticals.
  12. Could you second anyone to another company for a while?
  13. Stop recruitment, where possible.
  14. Retrain employees, so as to be able to remove agency workers or fill vacancies.
  15. Stop subcontracting and do everything in-house.  Hover, be careful with this – if you stop using it now, it might not be there if you need it again in future.
  16. Is anyone considering leaving (and could you incentivise it)?
  17. Is anyone considering going part-time, or would they consider it?
  18. Could you use job share to retain two employees instead of one?  They could then choose to go back to full time when work picks up.
  19. Is there anything you do well internally that you could sell externally?  For example if you usually do projects, could you sell your project management skills to other companies or if you usually do testing as part of your process, could other companies have a use for those tests?
  20. Work with your customers – they need you to be successful.  Can any of them afford to pay earlier?  Do they have vacancies that you could second people to do?
  21. If you can afford to keep someone, but don’t have sufficient work for them right now, can they do training; or work on a project you were going to do whenever you had the time; or do a community project?

If possible, decide with your employees which of these will work for your company – then make the necessary changes to contracts and policies.  If you can’t get agreement, you will need to formally consult and change terms and conditions – you should take advice before doing this.  Note: it will be  important to take individuals’ circumstances into account if you are thinking of imposing change.