Decline in local demand for British-made cigarettes had prompted British American Tobacco (BAT), maker of the Dunhill and Lucky Strike brands, to close its Darlington factory and concentrate UK production in its Southampton plant. The north-east of England is no stranger to job-losses, so BAT was determined to minimise the impact on both its employees and customers.
Regular collaborator RightCoutts was an obvious choice to devise an outplacement strategy for addressing the needs of the workers and local communities.
Senior managers were briefed off-site on how the changes should be communicated.
RightCoutts developed a website that offered information on the closure, details of e-learning modules and training opportunities.
On the day of the announcement, all staff were given details of a telephone helpline, and those being made redundant were invited to one of 13 briefing sessions run by RightCoutts and a team of independent financial advisers.
The consultancy set up a 'NextMove' centre on-site - a drop-in point that offered admin support, details of job opportunities, retraining options, advice on self-employment and a comprehensive range of reference materials, including a dedicated website.
To provide useful advice, RightCoutts liaised with agencies such as the Learning and Skills Council and organisations that provide training for accountancy, computer maintenance, football coaching, first aid, woodworking, plastering and other courses. A 'job searcher' built up contacts with local and regional employers, while benefits advisers from the Department for Work and Pensions came to offer specific advice. A job fair was also organised, attended by a wide range of employers and recruitment agencies.
RightCoutts arranged meetings with local MEPs and agencies such as One North East to discuss funding for retraining and reskilling.
Of the 487 people who registered at the NextMove centre, 452 (93%) have since identified or secured their next career move or have opted for a career break. Nearly half have chosen a complete career change and landed jobs with new employers in a wide range of industries - from advertising to horticulture.
An action plan by RightCoutts helped 93% of registered BAT staff to decide their next move.
- Work closely with the client from the off to overcome initial challenges smoothly.
- Provide employees with a wide range of access points to information.
- Consider and plan for external ramifications.
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