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Navigating restructures in primary care - a compassionate approach

on Friday, 10 May 2024.

Restructuring in a primary care setting can be an emotionally challenging experience for both employees and employers, particularly when redundancies are being considered. Here we set out guidance on taking a compassionate approach to a restructure.

While restructuring may be a necessary step to adapt to changing circumstances or financial constraints, it's crucial to approach the process with empathy, transparency, and a focus on supporting those affected. Here’s a compassionate guide on navigating a restructure in a primary care setting:

Assessment and planning

  • Before getting started, ensure you have thoroughly assessed the current structure, including workflows, job roles and team performance. This will help you to develop a deep understanding of what you currently have in place and why you believe a restructure is required.
  • Prepare a clear business case to support your proposals. Sense check this business case with an appropriate individual to ensure you have clearly articulated the rationale behind your restructure proposal and it can be clearly understood by those individuals who are impacted. Be open to adapting the proposal based on employee feedback during consultation.
  • Prepare all the necessary documentation and timeline ahead of embarking on the process. If things need to be amended or changed during the process, that's fine, but at least you have given yourself a strong head start.
  • Consider seeking specialist legal and HR input at the outset to ensure you have considered any legal risks or issues. You can also tap into their resources during the process in the event of any curve balls you have not been able to plan for (there will be some!)

Clear communication

  • Transparency is key to navigating a restructure effectively. From the outset, provide clear and honest communication about the reasons behind the proposed changes. Where redundancies are being proposed as part of the restructure, you should share the criteria for selection, and the timeline for the redundancy process.
  • Schedule meetings with affected employees to discuss the situation in person, allowing them the opportunity to ask questions, express concerns, and seek clarification.

Support services

  • Restructures can have significant emotional and financial implications for employees. Offer access to support services such as counselling or an EAP to help them cope with the transition.
  • Provide information about entitlements, including redundancy payments and notice periods to ensure employees are aware of their rights and entitlements.

Fair and transparent selection process

  • Where redundancies are proposed, you should ensure the redundancy selection process is fair, transparent, and based on objective or evidence based criteria such as skills, qualifications or reaching performance targets.
  • Provide opportunities for employees to express their interest in alternative roles or explore redeployment options where feasible.

Respect and dignity

  • Treat employees with respect, dignity, and empathy throughout the restructure. Acknowledge their contributions to the practice and express gratitude for their service, even in difficult circumstances.
  • Where redundancies are proposed, signpost to organisations who can help with writing CVs, interview preparation and job searches to help employees transition to new employment opportunities outside the practice.

Consultation and engagement

  • Consultation is critical. Present your plan as a proposal and be openminded about the possibility of making changes. Consult with staff (or representatives or trade unions where necessary) to discuss the proposed changes, explore alternatives, and mitigate the impact on affected employees.
  • Encourage open dialogue and feedback from employees to ensure their voices are heard and their concerns are addressed to the extent possible. Your employees are the closest to the work that they do and are often a source of creative solutions you may not have considered.

Retaining talent and morale

  • Retaining remaining staff and maintaining morale during a restructure is essential for the continuity of operations and the overall wellbeing within the practice.
  • Be considerate to those impacted but communicate with remaining staff about the practice's future direction, strategic priorities, and plans for supporting those affected by redundancy.
  • Recognise and celebrate the resilience and adaptability of the team in navigating through challenging times, reinforcing a sense of unity and purpose.

Learning and Growth

  • Use the restructuring process as an opportunity for learning and growth. Reflect on the factors that led to the need for a new structure and identify areas for improvement in workforce planning, financial management, and service delivery.
  • Develop strategies for building resilience, agility, and sustainability within the organisation to better withstand future challenges and uncertainties.

In conclusion, navigating restructures in a primary care setting requires compassion, empathy, and a commitment to supporting those affected through the transition. By prioritising clear communication, support services, fairness, and employee engagement, practices can navigate the process in a manner that preserves dignity, respects individual rights, and fosters a culture of compassion and care.

Narrow Quay HR can support you through the process and would be delighted to have an initial free of charge call. Please contact Sarah Martin on 07799 136091 or Kathryn Chidzey-Jones on 07881 092 524. Alternatively, please complete the form below.

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