This has truly been a difficult week. Just as in any previous times and administrations when layoffs were conducted, Barbadians are being rocked to the core. Domestic and professional families are facing great uncertainty and there are costs that will have ripple effects in the years to come. My heart goes out to all who have been impacted and my sincerest prayers are with you.
I think what was even more difficult than the cuts themselves was how they were done in some cases. There was no consistency and there were too many mixed messages.
The Prime Minister communicated her empathy clearly to the public, which has its merits, however, without thoroughly preparing those tasked with the execution of the layoffs, a difficult situation was made even more difficult.
I could stay here and rehash all of the things that should have been done, but that can wait. We need to look at how they should be done moving forward.
We have been told that this is just the beginning. That more cuts are on the horizon. Before taking further steps in that direction there needs to be a regrouping.
There needs to be a series of meetings starting with evaluative sessions where not only all who were responsible for giving this sad news are assembled, but also HR, communications and counseling specialists. There needs to be an assessment of what worked and what did not during this process. This information will be the basis, along with advice from the aforementioned occupational experts, that will help to build a comprehensive plan to how such an exercise should be conducted in the future.
The persons who have to be bearers of bad news will not only have the opportunity to contribute to this plan, but the consensus reached should result in guidelines for these persons to follow. There needs to be uniformity in how the process is executed.
Workers do not only need empathy but they need clarity. These managers should not only be trained how to perform the layoff process but how to properly handle the emotions of the survivors of the process. Empathy needs to be evident but the messages also need to be clear about how the present is to impact the future of these organizations and how their roles impact this future.
And even after all of this is done, there is still more work to do to break the cycle of downsizing as a first resort. There is still more work to ensure that our organizations are functioning effectively.
This is going to require some sacrifices at an ideological level. Politics and partisanship need to be replaced by occupational best practices. This should run the gamut of HR, from fair competence-based recruitment to strategic performance management to effective succession planning.
We can do better. We have to do better. It is not too late.