Reduction In Force (RIF) is the process used to trim full time employment positions. Common reasons for RIFs can be lost funding, change of work requirements, reorganization of a department or business operation, or possibly making the company a more attractive acquisition target. No matter what the reason, it is always a traumatic event, certainly for those employees who are losing their jobs, but for the remaining employees as well.
RIFs that impact more than a single location raise special areas of concern that merit particular attention.
TAL Global has provided security and assurance during many RIF operations. Amongst the lessons we have learned through these various operations:
- Information travels fast – an organization planning a “staggered” multi-time zone RIF must take into consideration the fact that news of pending or ongoing RIF will reverberate throughout the organization, impacting individuals and departments way beyond the employees that are losing their jobs.
- Departments that may (or may not) become RIF targets will react to the pending (or perceived) action as soon as their employees become aware of the possibility – confirmed or not. The productivity of such departments is likely to drop drastically, as employees focus on sifting through the information and rumors that will start swirling around them, and preparing themselves in case they are laid off. This is a basic survival instinct and the only way to deal with it is by creating clarity as soon as practical.
- Individuals who suspect they may be impacted directly by an upcoming RIF may also stop functioning professionally as they try to cope, emotionally, psychologically and operationally, with the possible pending change in their employment and life status.
- Employees may prepare themselves by going through their company computers and copying documents, data or files they think may help them land their next job.
- The stressful period surrounding the RIF may give rise to disruptive and/or violent behavior on the part of some employees. Employers will do well to pay attention to several main areas:
- It is important to try to figure out well ahead of time if there are employees who may pose a special risk of disruptive and/or violent behavior. There are ways to gather such information and there are specific procedures to mitigate the risk that may arise from such persons.
- With the criticality of IT infrastructures, management must take robust preliminary steps to prepare for disruption of IT operations either because of specific actions by disgruntled employees (or others within the organization who may collude with such persons), or because certain maintenance actions that should have taken place under regular circumstances did not take place, causing increased vulnerability and risk.
- Continuity of business is a major concern during RIF periods; employers should prepare ahead of time by taking the necessary actions to ensure employee resilience and data redundancy and integrity.
TAL Global is well versed and experienced in dealing with security threats during complex RIF situations – across the nation and across the world. We have an international cadre of uniquely trained professionals capable of asking the right questions ahead of time and providing the proper answers, before crisis erupts. A lot can be done to mitigate the potential disruptions a RIF can bring with it; the sooner we start dealing with the situation, the better the outcome is likely to be, both for workers’ safety and security and for the ability of the organization to function properly during the period of transition.