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Coronavirus redundancies create 22 days overtime for HR teams

HR professionals will be working on average 22 days of overtime due to the workload of processing redundancies over the winter.

According to new research by outplacement firm Randstad Risesmart UK, the end of the coronavirus job retention scheme on October 31 will lead to a vast amount of overtime for HR teams.

In a poll of 85 HR professionals working in firms employing approximately 50,000 people in total, the study found that every “vanilla” redundancy typically cost HR professionals seven and a quarter hours of work.

However, a quarter of HR professionals said the percentage of redundancies that aren’t simple processes, for example by going to tribunal, is rising.

The number of these cases now represents 28% of the total number of redundancies.

Though rarer than ordinary redundancies that run smoothly, the more complicated processes represent 140 hours work for an HR professional.

Simon Lyle, UK managing director of Randstad Risesmart said, “Every situation is unique and it's a different process for individuals compared to larger redundancy programmes.

“Typically, it’s a day’s worth of work per exit - a series of consultations plus the requisite prep over a two week period. Problems arise if cases go to tribunal. Then the process is longer and more resource heavy for HR departments - four weeks’ work.”

Further reading:

Handling redundancies with sensitivity

Government job schemes will save just one in 10 viable jobs

Back to life, back to (a new) reality: the workplace after furlough

What should HR know about mass redundancies?

In September, the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) estimated that the UK would be facing between 450,000 and 700,000 redundancies this autumn, representing a huge rise in HR’s workload.

Speaking to HR magazine, Lyle added that the months ahead will be a balancing act for people leaders.

He said: "What HR teams lack at the moment is time. First, they've been run hot for a little while now. Second, the job now requires more work as HRDs seek to demonstrate their department's impact to the C-suite.

“A chunk of their time is now spent on showing that they are hitting business metrics and that talent is affecting the bottom line. There's just less flex to deal with pandemic-level events like COVOID-19."

While there are approximately 152,000 people that work full time in employment activities across the UK , the research highlights that 65% are likely to be involved in the redundancy process.

Across the UK, the extra workload HR professionals will be undertaking to make these redundancies is set to create 168 hours’ worth of overtime per full time HR employee over the course of the second half of 2020.

Due to the scale of potential job cuts, Lyle said that the situation highlights the need for a “human touch” in HR.

Though the spending on HR tech has risen over the last decade and HR headcount spending has decreased, he said technology “can only do so much.”

He added: “Technology cannot help HR teams with the very human and personal job of making large numbers of employees redundant. For that you need people - especially when cases go to tribunal."