Outplacement: the context
The closure of Northern Foods' Cavaghan & Gray factory site in Hull at the end
of November 2009 resulted in the loss of 379 jobs and received local media
and political attention. Independent was engaged in September to carry
out a comprehensive, end-to-end outplacement service in the limited time
available before closure. This would target the 280 weekly paid staff,
helping to secure the re-employment, up-skilling or higher education of as
many of them as possible.
Independent developed a detailed project and communication plan with
Cavaghan & Gray HR staff, ensuring services would be publicised to staff and
that they could be released from the production line as necessary. It was
important that the service delivered complemented the interventions of the
statutory agencies involved to ensure staff had access to a coherent service
and that the HR department could see the added value of the end-to-end
Outplacement approach and achievements
- The impact of the total closure of the Cavaghan & Gray site, its strong
internal'community' culture and the fact that some staff had been there for
over 20 years, meant that morale and motivation were extremely low. Many
staff had little or no aspirations for their future prospects. As a result,
the project team had to take a very proactive approach to delivery; being
positive and encouraging and gaining the trust and confidence of
individuals advocates of the service.
- Independent delivered a highly tailored, individualised service on site
that adapted to the differing needs, skill sets and working hours
employees. The team was regularly on site from 5am to the work patterns
those on night shift. This was extremely effective in improving morale
amongst staff and management. With staff being made redundant in two
tranches, continuity of input, flexibility and consistency of service
throughout was essential.
- Working closely with Northern Foods to understand the skill sets of its
employees, the Independent team met with staff on an individual basis to
assess requirements, build confidence and prepare them for a
recruitment fair in Hull, also project managed by Independent.
- In order to give employees the best chance of re-employment,
those where English was not their first language, staff received one-to-
guidance in CV writing, filling in job applications and online job searches
An interview skills workshop was also organised for the benefit of employees.
- The possibility of transferable skill sets were explored, in addition to
sign-posting opportunities for up-skilling, re-skilling, higher education and
- At the recruitment fair, local employers and recruitment agencies with live
vacancies for employees with similar profiles, were invited to attend free of
charge. Companies included Morrisons, Aunt Bessies, Kingston
Communications, Adecco and Nicholas Associates. Independent agreed
with C&G HR staff to release a schedule that allowed staff to attend the fair
during work hours. As a result groups of 30 were released on an
throughout the day. The project team took a proactive, hands-on basis
approach at the fair, signposting employees to appropriate employers and
generating interest among attendees in the breadth of outplacement support available.
- The Independent team liaised with statutory authorities such as Future
Pathways, Next Steps and Job Centre Plus, in addition to local training
provider Leeds City College and the Debt Advisory Service, to ensure they
attended the fair.
- By linking with the different support networks, the team ensured there
no duplication or confusion surrounding existing provision
government funded statutory agencies. Independent was invited to a
partnership meeting, co-ordinated by Job Centre Plus, which enabled the
team to work more closely with the agencies, allowing all parties to
refer individuals to appropriate interventions and share information.
This joined up, partnership approach was vital in filling the gaps in
statutory provision and catering for the needs of each individual.
- Independent continued to liaise with local employers after the fair,
encouraging them to visit the Cavaghan & Gray site and proactively support staff into jobs.
- Significant numbers of redundant employees were placed in new roles
and Independent received very positive feedback from both Northern
Foods and the hiring companies, such as Morrisons, who participated in the recruitment fair.
“Independent’s expertise in planning and guiding us through what was an
extremely difficult and sensitive time, was superb. The team showed great
flexibility and thoroughness and despite time constraints, completed the
project on time and on budget.”
HR Director, Northern Foods