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The case of turning adversity to opportunity.


Dealing with Distressed Workers

Scenario A

Tong Tong could have handled the situation better. Understandably, one would be very distressed to learn that one has been retrenched. In Tong Tong's case however, his company has tried to pre-empt all employees on the possibility of retrenchment. In addition, the CEO himself spoke to the employees, explaining to them the financial difficulties which the company was facing, as well as the few alternatives which the company might take. He also explained clearly that retrenchment for some workers is unavoidable and that fair compensation would be given.

Tong Tong could perhaps try to control his credit card spending after hearing the announcement from his CEO. It is not right to threaten his company as the credit cards debts are incurred by himself. In addition, Tong Tong will received the maximum compensation of 10 months' salary which allows him ample time to look for another job. He could choose to be positive.

The CEO should not give Tong Tong special privileges as this would be unfair to the rest of the 64 workers who were retrenched too. During a retrenchment exercise, the staff morale will suffer; hence, it is very important that all the employees see the management's decision as fair. If the CEO should make a concession towards Tong Tong, it may encourage the other 64 staff to threaten the company with their lives too, to save their job. The company would then haw more problems 10 resolve.

Scenario B

The company should not retract the retrenchment letter as this would send a message to the other employees that they could get whatever they want if they threaten the company with their lives.

However, taking into consideration that the retrenched employees are probably feeling lost and helpless, the company could perhaps let up a committee composing human resouce staff to counsel retrenched employees and to offer suggestions on job March and retraining. This will certainly be useful to them emotionally at well as to prepare them to took for alternative robs.

The CEO has done his part to pre-empt the employees on the possibility of retrenchment as well a* provide the retrenched workers with fair compensation. From his explanation to the employees. It is also evident that he hat considered all alternatives and selected the solution which most benefits the company and the employees.

It would probably be fairer far the retrenchment selection process to be handled by HR department and the vinous heads of department who know the performance of the employees better--Contributed by Edmund Quek, Esther Tang, Chng Jit Yao, and Elynne Loh

Provide Outplacement Services

Scenario A

Tong Tong should not have committed suicide. He has a family and his action would have added to the burden of this family. Besides, with his 15 years experience, he would have found another job easily.

The CEO, Mr Hu, should not make any concession. Any concession made would be unfair to other retrenched staff. Additionally, other retrenched staff might also threaten to kill themselves in order to gain concession.

Scenario B

The company should not retract the retrenchment letter. The company should be firm in their decision, any compromise would be seen as weakness and this might encourage other retrenched staff to follow suit. In addition, Tong Tong should not be allowed to continue working because he might be too traumatised by the incident. However, the company should show empathy to Tong Tong's agony by paying for the medical expenses.

Mr Hu could play an active role in the retrenchment selection process. Firstly, he should be directly involved in setting the criteria for retrenchment and not merely endorsing the selected staff for retrenchment. He should set aside a budget for the retrenched staff to get the services of an outplacement agency, finally, he should approach the worker's union for advice for other measures apart from retrenchment--Contributed by Chow Siew Hoong. Siti Aishah Bie Ahmad, Rae Wang Li Chang, and Caroline Tay Tse Kiat.

Consider Other Plans before Retrenchment

Tong Tong was foolish to attempt suicide, if he dies or is badly injured, he would leave his family in a worse financial state.

The CEO should not retract the retrenchment to save the Tong Tongs life as it may open a flood gate o' retrenched employees attempting unfair acts to stay employed. The CEO was untactful in coaxing Tong Tong, off the ledge, which aggravated the latter to jump.

The CEO then*) play a more active role in the retrenchment selection process only if he knows which workers can add value to his company, otherwise it would be unfair if he bases his decision on favoritism. Thus, it is correct that the retrenchment selection committee was formed of three departmental managers to try to arrive at in unbiased selection.

In view of Tong Tong's long service with the company and his financial problems, he was offered a maximum retrenchment compensation of 10 months' salary. I find this arrangement equitable as far as the retrenchment exercise goes. However, the best thing the CEO could do for his staff is to explore other options, for example, pay cuts or part-time employment before he wields the axe--Contributed by Ong Kian Hui

Leaders Should Encourage Employees

Suicide is not the solution to resolve the problem. Tong Tong failed to see that it will create unnecessary problems to the relatives.

Most often, the debt will be required to be sealed by his kin. The mind of the one who has a problem is too pre-occupied with the financial problem that they think that a room has only one escape door.

In this particular case. Tong Tong was caught offguard. Perhaps he has been too comfortable in his job that it didn't occur to him that he made it to the retrenchment list.

He thought that time was on his side and he could always work all his life in the same company to pay his debts. But he was wrong.

What the CEO could have done is to recommend or promise him a position in other industries that may need his services on top of the retrenchment benefits that he is about to receive from the existing company.

Perhaps, before the announcement, the CEO and HR could have worked together and collaborate with other companies for job placements to assist the retrenched workers. That will cushion the impact for the workers to be retrenched.

If Tong Tong bounced off the air bag and spent one day in hospital, the company's decision to retrench h*n should stay. This will not give mixed signals to the other employees to question the leadership of the company. Employees tan be replaced at any point in time.

Since the three managers have already identified the candidates for retrenchment, they should also inform the CEO on what grounds that they were selected (or retrenchment.

When times are bad, the workers look to their leaders to motivate and support them Leaders should at least give them words of encouragement.

The least the CEO could do is to acknowledge the services of the employees have offered through the years--Contributed by Imelda
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Title Annotation:READER'S COMMENTS
Publication:Today's Manager
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2009
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