The 'R' Word (with apologies to Shy)
I returned from holiday a fortnight ago to be told that everybody had been put on notice of redundancy. This was a shock to say the least, there had been a feeling around since early summer that there was going to be a slow down in around October/November time but August was never on the agenda.
Once the niceties were out of the way it came down to one person, this wasn't by design because with two people retiring next year and the re-allocation of work having been underway since last year, there was really only one person it could be. What of course wasn't expected was either the reaction of the person concerned or the reaction of the other members of staff.
At a meeting to discuss the options, believe me there weren't that many given the experience of the people concerned and the structure of the office, it quickly became evident that some people viewed this as a chance for revenge, although even using the word revenge makes it sound both slightly sordid and childish at the same time. I wanted to find a way to avoid this, as regular visitors to this site and the old 5Live boards will know I'm a firm believer that staff are an asset rather than a cost and yet with employment law now such a grey area in many cases even relocating a person within an organisation can leave you open to claims of constructive dismissal. I asked a fellow manager if she could help me avoid this situation, knowing full well that she had every right to want to see the back of the person concerned, and she said she would think about it.
When it came down to bare facts there wasn't any work in the office, nor was there any forecast to come into the office, for the level this person was employed at. Having already lost two staff over the past year and knowing about next years retirements we were rapidly heading towards a Harry Redknapp, "I'm down to my bare bones," situation.
Having gone through the due process of notification and meetings the final meeting took place, the person being made redundant had his witness, myself and my boss representing the firm sat across the table - it was horrible. The issue of redundancy and the reasons for it were discussed and at the back of our minds, well at the back of three of our minds anyway, was the undeniable fact that we were laying somebody off who is at an age where it will be difficult to find employment at the same level of remuneration and responsibility as his experience warrants. There may be a shortage of accountants nationally but in the three counties area you can count the number of vacancies for semi-seniors/seniors on one finger.
The whole thing, combined with some non-work based issues, has left me feeling depressed over the past few weeks, hence the lack of posting. I'm not happy to see somebody lose their job regardless of personalities yet there was almost a sense of gloating about the office, not a sense of 'well it could be me next time.' Of course had the disciplinary procedures in our place been enforced a lot earlier in the year we would probably be looking at an unfair dismissal case rather than an appeal against redundancy.