Yes, retrenching workers should not be the last resort.
No, I’m not saying that it should come early. Heck, it shouldn’t it even come at all.
But of course, as how the Tripartite partners put it in a recent revision of a tripartite guidelines, if it is inevitable, retrenchments should be conducted in a responsible manner.
We are entering a period of uncertainty. Businesses are restructuring and some are downsizing, while some MNCs (Multi-National Corporations) are re-shoring back to their origin countries. As such, there will be workers who have to face the cut and be displaced.
But before workers get there, companies should assist them in more ways.
One such assistance would be to train workers and help them to upgrade their skills. After all, what is more important than possessing skills which are relevant and much-needed?
As such, the government introduced the SkillsFuture initiative which is aimed at helping Singaporeans to improve their skills or even take on a new skill.
And whatever for? To prepare for such a season, where everyone feels threatened or worried for their livelihood.
The NTUC also introduced a new collaboration with institutes of higher learning for PMEs to upgrade their skills to fulfill their career aspirations.
This will be funded by the NTUC-Education and Training Fund (NETF) which is aimed at mobilising working people to embrace continuous lifelong learning and skills upgrading for all working adults, especially PMEs.
But of course, companies should also be proactive in availing their workers to such training and skills upgrading courses. Often, some workers find difficulty seeking time off to attend courses or training because of work.
So, in times like these, perhaps employers should be more open to allowing workers to upgrade their skills, not only for the good of the employee, but also for the good of the company because the skills learnt could be relevant to the operations of the company.
Another way in which companies can avoid retrenchment is to redeploy workers to other alternative of work within the organisation.
Companies should look at employees’ experience, current job scopes and competencies to decide how employees can be redeployed to other departments. This allows the workers to still hold on to their jobs. However, employees should be given sufficient training for them to be able to work effectively in their new roles.
Naturally employees feel uncertain about their future in such a economic slowdown and restructuring of the economy. Hence, employers should do their utmost best to help employees to reduce costs to save jobs.
Retrenchment shouldn’t be something that is inevitable. It should be something that employees never have to go through.