By: Kathy Albarado on March 19th, 2009

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Considerations In Conducting a RIF

Communication | Best Practices | TBU

Best Practices: RIF Tips for Management

Reductions in Force (RIF) usually come at a time when companies can least afford distraction.  Operations become significantly harder as you work through the process of notifying workers, supporting current employees, and finding ways to compensate for staffing changes throughout your organization. These changes will take a significant amount of management bandwidth and a thoughtful and well-implemented RIF strategy.

Downsizing your workforce may be the most viable solution to counteract decreased revenues and difficult economic challenges, but should never be a "knee jerk" reaction. To ensure that your company will get through the process unscathed, we've compiled a set of Best Practices and Considerations in Conducting a RIF. These include:

  • Get HR Involved at the Beginning
  • Explore Alternatives to Layoffs
  • Consider ALL the Stakeholders
  • Mitigate Legal Risks
  • Don't Focus Solely on the Short Term

Tip One: Get HR Involved at the Beginning

A successful workforce reduction process requires careful and early planning. Companies that get through the process with minimal difficulties utilize Human Resources as a trusted advisor. Work with your HR department today to develop systematic processes that identify company-wide, department, and individual criteria that will be used for the RIF.

Tip Two: Explore Alternatives

Determine whether a voluntary resignation program is a viable alternative to implementing involuntary layoffs. Consider alternative approaches (or a combination thereof), such as: hiring freezes, transfers, job sharing or reduced hours, reduced pay or salary freezes, early retirement incentives, furloughs, sabbaticals or mandatory vacations.

Tip Three: Consider ALL the Stakeholders

RIFs impact every employee, regardless of whether they leave or stay. Be sure to provide remaining employees with strategies to help them confront the challenges these reductions may present. Provide clear and consistent information that will redirect their fears back to commitment to the company and continued productivity.

Tip 4: Mitigate Legal Risks

Workforce reductions, business unit closures and salary cuts are the unfortunate realities of today's economic climate. If you fail to comply with complex federal and state regulations governing these cutbacks you could find yourself in the midst of litigation, offsetting any initial savings you hope achieve with the RIF.

Tip 5: Don't Focus Solely on the Short Term, Look Ahead

Maintain perspective, focus on your company's current crisis but be prepared for a rebound. If you are able to preserve talent during difficult economic times, you will be better positioned for the recovery than those that have adopted a knee-jerk approach to job cuts as a way of slashing costs for short-term gains. You do not want to overreact in a way that causes a substantive reduction in competencies, and in turn fundamentally impinges on your future.

Remember that you have a partner in Helios HR; our experts can conduct the heavy lifting in managing your reduction in force. Let us free your time to focus on the remaining workforce and strategic initiatives to build and strengthen your company's foundation.