Employers lead the way in socially responsible restructuring

A vehicle assembly line. A man in overalls is reaching up and working on car body.

Lessons learnt from restructuring in the automotive industry have informed a guide to socially responsible restructuring for business.

This story was first published on Monday 22 October 2018. If you wish to use this content, please contact media@dese.gov.au to confirm that the information is still current.

The Australian economy is transitioning to new sectors of growth. This process of transition helps to drive business to be more innovative and competitive, generates new products, services and employment, and can provide consumers with better value for money.

Importantly, transition re-directs people and resources to more productive areas of the economy.

While broadly beneficial, when an industry needs to change and businesses have to restructure in order to compete, transition can be a stressful time for workers and particularly challenging for some.

The Government seeks to support workers impacted by transition to connect with employers and identify new job opportunities.

Employers also have an important role in helping their impacted workers to re-train and for new jobs within or outside the organisation.

A guide for employers to assist workers impacted by transition in the most socially responsible way is now available.

The ‘Good Practice in Socially Responsible Restructuring’ guide draws on lessons learnt to help employers navigate through a restructure in a way that gives good outcomes for the business and employees.

The guide stems from a report by the independent National Automotive Facilitator, reflecting on the approaches taken by stakeholders to assist retrenched automotive manufacturing workers in Australia. Pulling together the things that worked well, the guide provides a blueprint for good practice in socially responsible restructuring.

Employers who engaged in socially responsible restructuring reported increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and higher worker morale and brand loyalty throughout the process.

It demonstrated that restructuring and retrenchments done well can transform a negative experience into a positive career transition for workers.

Four broad themes were found to produce the best outcomes:

Regular information and ongoing support

The provision of accurate, regular and up-to-date information removes some of the uncertainty experienced by workers facing retrenchment and enables them to begin planning their transition.

Career and training assistance for workers

Early engagement with career transition discussions and training opportunities helps workers feel supported through the transition process, and can increase worker productivity and engagement.

Skills recognition and training

Workers are often unaware of their transferable skills. Employers can help workers identify their transferable skills through, for example, a skills check. Providing advice on study options with Registered Training Organisations or community adult learning facilities will assist workers to transition.

Support to find a new job

Employers can support workers in the search for new jobs by contacting employment service providers and their consumer and supplier networks, to promote job vacancies to their workers, and the skills of their workers to potential new employers.

Read the Good Practice in Socially Responsible Restructuring guide.

Further information and resources for employers and workers about retrenchment are available on the What’s Next website.

Correct at time of publication.