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When the boat is rocked…

The news of the resignation of Prime Minster Boris Johnson has come as no surprise to many. It seems like it was only last week we were writing about what HR can learn from the Sue Gray report following “party gate”.

Johnson’s resignation leaves the HR community to consider and reflect on how employers should deal with issues in the workplace relating to a negative workplace culture, stemming from a loss of confidence in their senior leadership team. So, what issues begin to present themselves and how should employers tackle these issues?

Dealing with an influx of resignations

It is no secret that employee turnover has increased as a consequence of a tough couple of years. Aside from the obvious reason, a change of priority for the employees, career changes, or a desire to work in a role which may provide more flexibility are some of the factors which may contribute to the increase in turnover. It’s worth noting that these factors have been reported to have contributed largely for the rise in the number of workers leaving the hospitality industry.

However, where a number of resignations are received simultaneously, employers should try to get to the route cause to prevent further employees haemorrhaging from the business.. With this in mind, it would be wise for employers to analyse exit data on their employees following the completion of exit interviews.  Where another employee has been referenced as the reason for their departure, investigations should take place, potentially with the use of the company grievance procedure.

Dealing with the departure of a senior employee

Dealing with the resignation of a senior employee might be just as tricky as exiting a senior employee. To minimise the damage to culture and reputation, organisations should agree a ‘party line’ on the statement for how they will communicate this to the workforce.

This consistency of message is key to managing the transitional period. In the event that the business is looking to exit a senior employee (for whatever reason), organisations must ensure that they seek legal advice and proceed carefully, conducting thorough investigations are undertaken if allegations of misconduct are in play.

Where it has been determined there is a case to answer to, employers must ensure appropriate action is taken.  Failing to take action against employees, purely because of their status within the company, causes no end of issues. At best the wider team may become demotivated and aggrieved by a perceived lack of action, but at worst it can lead to a potential for legal proceedings.

Many leaders in this case may stick around to see if there is any financial benefit to an exit with the use of a settlement agreement. Employers must be careful to ensure that any offers of a settlement agreement are done so with legal advice to help to prevent any potential issues which may arise.

Addressing a culture change

Notwithstanding the issues discussed above, addressing a poor workplace culture and making changes to this can be even more challenging. Trying to make changes to a culture after implementing new leadership is no small feat. Companies attempting to do so, can consider doing the following;

  1. Undertake an audit to establish your current culture strengths and weaknesses;
  2. Set goals and objectives, in line with the business plan, that you wish to achieve;
  3. Following the findings, put in place an action plan;
  4. Consult with employees to get their ‘buy in’; and
  5. Review regularly to assess the success of the change process and adapt as required.

Of course, Napthens are here for you in whatever capacity that may be. In particular, the Employment Law team can ensure that any employment issues such as grievances or disciplinary that arise are dealt with appropriately along with advice on supporting the exit of senior employee. Additionally, the People Projects team can assist with onsite support, whether that be to chair any ER meetings on your behalf or help with HR strategy which would support change process.

For more information and guidance, please feel free to contact us for information on how we can provide advice and support.

10 Downing STreet