We work with many organisations, particularly in the not-for-profit sector, which provide valuable community services that are funded through government block funding. The block funding model provides financial certainty over a fixed period of time, and often these funding contracts have continued for many years to the point that employees almost forget their employment contract depends on the funding continuing. But what happens to employees when the funding draws to an end?
The issues organisations face in this situation include:
- Increased uncertainty among employees if the next funding round is not locked in
- Maintaining employee motivation and engagement when people know their roles are coming to an end
- Minimising attrition and continuing to maintain service levels until the handover or shutdown is complete
- Supporting employees with their career transition and preparing for new roles, particularly in a cost-effective way
- Looking after managers and team leaders who are facing all of the issues listed above, both for themselves and their teams.
Here are some tips we can share after working in this area for 25 years. Some will be more applicable than others, but I guarantee there will be a few which can make all the difference if you are facing this situation.
- It sounds obvious, but poor communication is often the downfall of a change project. Communicate regularly and frequently on what is known, and what is not yet known, about the timing, process, and support available.
- Plan and announce a schedule of support well before the end date. This may include practical career transition assistance, EAP, and introductions to new providers. Knowing what is coming gives people a level of comfort that they are being looked after, and they can focus on the job at hand rather than worrying overly about the future.
- Where there is a new provider taking over the service, meet with them to find out whether you can smooth the path for employees to transition to them. Offer support for employees such as application assistance and interview practice.
- Investigate the career transition options. These may include:
- Individual programs, which are highly flexible in timing and content, and can start well before closure
- Group workshops or webinars on topics such resume and job applications, job search techniques, interview skills, LinkedIn.
- On-site career counsellors who can provide individual support on a drop-in or pre-booked basis
- A "Jobs fair" with potential employees meeting employees in a structured or drop-in basis
- Look after the managers and team leaders. An effective way of doing this is through a series of facilitated group coaching sessions, where leaders can share experiences and learn from each other.
- Ensure EAP counselling support is readily available, including for a period of time (e.g. 3 months) post-employment.
- Organise an end-of-contract celebration and end on a high with recognition for effort and celebration of a job well done.
When jobs are lost, it is usually not the "why" that people question, particularly when there is an obvious funding reason. The thing to focus on, and what will be noticed and remembered, is the "how" - how are people treated and supported through the transition process.
For answers to some common questions about restructures and redundancies, read our blog here.