When should you use redundancy versus performance management?
In between those steps should be periods of review and assessment, during which you should provide your employee with the relevant support to assist sustained improvement. It’s essential that a proper process is followed throughout the performance management process to ensure that all reasonable steps have been taken and documented in accordance with legislation.
Active performance management can help you create a strong culture of excellence for your business. It creates clear expectations and can help attract and retain highly motivated and productive team members.
If you’re trying to leverage redundancy in place of performance management, it could be illegal and have unintended consequences, like a post-redundancy hit to your team’s morale and an impact to their productivity, not to mention unfair dismissal risks.
“A classic mistake that employers often make is that they don’t realise that if they make a role or person redundant, they are claiming that the position is genuinely not required by the business, therefore potentially leaving the business under resourced and open to the risks of an non genuine redundancy process,” notes Businessary HR Manager Lauren McCleery.
“A redundancy means the employer no longer wants or needs to have that position performed by anyone. And if it’s not a genuine redundancy, for example if you then try to recruit to replace the role you’ve made redundant, the employee could claim that it’s an unfair dismissal and make a claim against the company to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
“Generally we would advise clients to focus on leading by example – providing coaching, mentoring and support to their teams, including a well structured performance management program. This will help mitigate the need for a knee jerk reaction of using redundancies to exit an underperforming or unliked employee from the business.
“Your managers and leaders should have the capability and confidence to handle difficult conversations, and if you’re not finding that they are able to, then perhaps it’s at their level that more training and effort should be applied.”
But businesses can and do have the need to make roles redundant at times. Your business could consider making roles redundant for a number of reasons, including new technology that reduces reliance on the role, economic slowdown or business slowdown, closing or relocating an office, or perhaps you’re undergoing a merger or restructure.
If you’re not making a role redundant for genuine business reasons, you could be trying to cut corners. However, if your reasons are valid, making a role or roles redundant could be the answer for your business.
Firstly, make sure that you are looking at a ‘genuine redundancy’, which requires you as the employer to meet three requirements, according to Fair Work:
Your consultation requirements include:
Strong and consistent communication is key. You should carefully plan and implement a communication strategy to avoid mixed messages or inaccurate information throughout your obligatory consultation process.
“If you’re not sure about your obligations, this is when you need to rely on your HR team or find an HR consultant,” adds McCleery. “This isn’t the time to wing it or leave it to chance.”
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The information provided in this article is only general in nature – before making business decisions you should consider seeking advice specific to your situation.