Forum: Don't view firms or workers negatively after a retrenchment

The word retrenchment carries with it a negative connotation (Unemployment at highest in a decade, retrenchments up, July 30).

Businesses that retrench are perceived to be irresponsible corporate citizens, and workers who are retrenched are deemed "underperformers" by the job market.

In the context of the current global crisis, most companies have to cut their headcount due to financial considerations. Payroll costs rank among the highest costs in most businesses. Cutting headcount will result in "savings" the very next month. It is a practical solution to the problem.

Assuming that the company has taken all other possible measures such as furloughing or pay cuts, there are really not many other options left.

In such cases, businesses need to do what is required not just to save the business, but also to save the jobs of the other workers not retrenched. We should not view these employers negatively.

For workers who receive the pink slip, the job market should not brand them as tainted goods. In the course of my work supporting retrenched workers during their career transition, I have found that many of them are good workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. This is validated by their employers who entrust them to us for support in their job search.

Retrenchments will continue in the foreseeable future due to the pandemic. It is imperative that companies continue to do what is within their capabilities before resorting to retrenchments.

When the inevitable has to happen, those affected must be given all possible practical and emotional support.

Emotional support must continue to be provided for a reasonable period of time after service separation. This is how companies can label themselves as employers of choice when it's time to hire again.

Paul Heng Hiang Teck