How ONA can help in redundancy choices

Redundancies look like an inevitable and awful consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, but how can organisations ensure they retain their most valuable people to make their recovery as effective as possible? 

Organisations the world over are facing uncertain times as they attempt to navigate the most severe global economic contraction since at least the 1930s. Redundancies look inevitable and in the UK, the workplace advisory body, ACAS reported redundancy related calls increased by 160% over the past two months when compared to the same period in 2019. In addition, official UK government figures show that 300,000 redundancies were planned for in June and July. And with the UK’s furlough scheme, which subsidised 80% of wages, having just ended in October 2020, it is feared that levels of redundancies will increase further.


Redundancies should be the last resort and ACAS publish some practical tips on alternatives, but when all possibilities have been exhausted and organisations are forced to make redundancies, it is essential to retain the right people. It is never easy to end any kind of relationship and the adage ‘you don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone’ applies to businesses as much as individuals. The challenge is how to ensure you do know what you have got so you don’t throw it away.


Currently organisations trying to build a picture of their organisation rely on manual processes such as face-to-face interviews or online surveys. These methods are slow and have a high potential for bias meaning the results are often skewed and do not reflect reality. And if they are used in conjunction with crude methods for identifying redundancies such as ‘last in first out’, key individuals may be stripped out of an organisation because management do not fully appreciate the role they fulfil.

 Developments in artificial intelligence and unsupervised machine learning make it possible to remove this bias and create an objective map of an organisation based on employee’s communication patterns. In addition, modern analytical methods mean it is not necessary to analyse the content of emails themselves and a great deal of insight is gained from the communication flows in isolation.


This method of analysis was developed at Bletchley Park during WW2 as the Allies intercepted enemy communications and realised it was possible to gain valuable intelligence from the volume, times, senders and recipients of communications without having to decipher the content of messages. 


FACT360 has pioneered the use of these methods on modern communication networks and its Prestige solution uses these techniques to identify the key people within an organisation by modelling levels of communication and who is communicating with whom. When applied to a modern organisation, it becomes clear that looking at what people actually do often provides more useful intelligence than what people say.  


In a similar way that search engines determine the most relevant webpages based on sites that link to them and the sites they link to, Prestige identifies the key individuals in an organisation by analysing email flows.


Using sophisticated AI and unsupervised machine learning algorithms it is possible to very quickly see the ‘knowledge centres’ in an organisation – the people everyone turns to for information because even if they do not know the answer themselves, they will know who does. These methods remove any preconceptions of where the real and practical expertise resides in an organisation and uncovers the ‘unknown unknown’ experts within an organisation.


Based on this analysis, individuals are assigned a ‘Prestige’ value which is tracked in real-time giving organisations a dynamic model of its key personnel and workforce as a whole.

This organisational model can form a vital part of the restructuring process by allowing management to see the key individuals and ensure that that redundancies do not strip out previously hidden expertise from an organisation.


As businesses enter the next phase of operating during an unprecedented global pandemic, it is essential to do everything to ensure future success. It goes without saying that retaining key personnel will be fundamental to achieving this and the first step is identifying who these people actually are.

For more information please go to FACT360