Remembering the human beings at the centre of HR change processes – PART 3

I was looking in my back-up folder for something else and came upon this piece of reflection and advice to myself for the future – written just over 8 years ago, before I blogged or tweeted. I remember sitting down to write this within a few days of completing my involvement with a large-scale change that included a complete restructure and, unfortunately, some redundancies. I nearly said ‘a headcount reduction’ but we all know what that really means!

With some minor editing and anonymisation, I’ve decided to share it in a three-part blog. In part 1, I covered making sure the HR team is resourced, prepared and supported, the importance of accurate data, and engaging with staff, specific and contextualised communications. In part 2, I included timescales and planning, organisational culture, and practical considerations such as consultation, voluntary departures and to use or not to use slotting in.

In this final part, I cover governance, upwards management, appointment processes, more analytics and legal considerations.

1.      Governance

Role of the Board(s), delegated responsibilities to CEO, role of Remuneration Committees and of Directors must be clear.

If more than one organisation is involved, what is being done centrally and what is being done individually by each organisation? This must be really clear to prevent misunderstandings (and blame if things go wrong.) Sign off for each phase of the change needs to be planned so that those responsible know what to expect and when.

2.      Upwards Management

The HR lead must have a sound relationship with the CEO and with the other Directors. Ideally this will have been formed during ‘normal’ times and before the change process starts.

The relationship must allow the HR lead full access to the CEO and relevant Directors throughout the process. There will be the need for regular updates and briefings. For instance; preparing senior managers to communicate with and support staff, liaising with then to prepare staff bulletins and FAQ responses and preparing managers for appointment processes etc.

3.      Appointment processes

Where there is no slotting in and jobs are to be appointed to, the processes must be robust, no matter how challenging the timescale. They must be able to stand up to scrutiny and to follow all of the principles of equality of opportunity.

Publication of the process to be followed is recommended. Use of stakeholder events and psychometrics enables triangulation for senior appointments, which may be the most contested and where the most cuts may be made. Interview panels, where there is more than one organisation, should include members from the different organisations involved.

If there are a lot of posts to appoint to (i.e. little or no slotting in) a separate team should be set up to handle this, leaving HR to continue with all of the other aspects of the change.

Once this is completed, there will be a list of jobs not filled and another of people without jobs. In this case, Suitable Alternative Employment must be followed up strenuously whilst balancing this with the need for posts to be filled by people who are going to be able to do the role well after a trial period and some retraining.
Senior staff may be reluctant to take people who have ‘failed’ other job interviews as they are likely to have leaner structures and cannot afford to take less able team members into their teams.

4.      Analytics

It is imperative that all employees’ details are recorded and that their progress throughout the process to get a post in the new structure is tracked carefully. Data needed on personal details, job role, pay, hours, protected characteristics, which roles applied for and outcome etc.

Monitoring by diversity is essential to ensure that there are no emerging trends showing that a particular group seems to be being disadvantaged. This work must be started early and data verified by managers if there is any lack of clarity.

5.      Employment Law

It is very important that the HR lead and team are fully up to speed on employment legislation when leading a big change programme. An agreed process for obtaining specialist legal advice is a good idea, i.e. Who leads this? Are there employment law surgeries? How is the advice recorded and disseminated?  Consistency important.

Areas of employment law to understand and apply in depth are (correct as at 2011):

Redundancy procedures and pay (including occupational)
Redundancy legally required minimum consultation periods
Individual and collective consultation requirements
Reasons for fair dismissal
Time served and contractual notice periods
Equality Act
Equality impact assessment
Maternity leave rights in a redundancy situation
Fixed term worker regulations (to understand which temporary staff are in scope)
Rights to request flexible working
Pension scheme (but to signpost and not to give staff financial advice.)

The end. Only we all know that's not really the end. As Heraclitus said "Change is the only constant in life." I moved into a new role in a different organisation after this, where I did call upon my own advice to myself, now shared here in this 3 part blog post. I hope anyone who has taken the time to read these finds my learning and advice useful in the future, and I would love to hear your learning and observations too. Thank you or reading.


  1. Having travelled the journey with you, this is a really helpful reflection.


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