Resource Centre Employer’s Corner A Glimpse into Rightsizing and its Impact

A Glimpse into Rightsizing and its Impact

Rightsizing vs downsizing

Understand the Difference Between Rightsizing and Downsizing

Downsizing is a word that causes panic in the Kenyan job market. It is behind the recent spurt of layoffs in Kenya, with the most affected industries being banking, manufacturing and media industries. Companies affected include; Sameer Africa, Coca-Cola, Family Bank, Sidian Bank, Royal Media, and Nation Media Group. While company restructuring is inevitable, downsizing can definitely be made less sinister by switching to rightsizing. Rightsizing defines a strategic move to ensure that human resources are aligned to the operations of the organisation. The difference between rightsizing and downsizing is that the latter is a reactive move, necessitated by a sudden shift in the organisation’s operations or the economy. On the other hand, rightsizing is a deliberate, continuous move by a company to ensure efficiency in its human resource capacity at all times. Rightsizing involves taking a step back as a company and critically evaluating your human resource in relation to the work at hand and the company’s needs in the future.

Rightsizing the Right Way

As a human resource professional, you should take lead in all rightsizing efforts. You have the responsibility to make the process as seamless as possible. You should, therefore, sit in the management team meetings to better understand each department and its specific needs. This will help you be better equipped to strategically coordinate talent management. When your company intends to shift focus to optimise operational efficiency for the long term and increase its competitive advantage, you might be required to organise and handle the rightsizing process by combining departments, reshuffling responsibilities and laying off redundant human resource.

So how do you ensure the process is done right?

  • Understand the dynamics

Rightsizing, like most human resource processes, is seemingly easy to implement in theory till your company is in a situation that requires restructuring and reshuffling of roles. As a human resource expert, how the process runs is highly dependent on how well you understand what is expected. In order to help your company sustain the right size and shape, you must realise that you are dealing with an extremely dynamic process.

This process is not immune to external forces that may slow it down or require a shift in procedure. How these challenges are handled is what differentiates rightsizing from downsizing. To ensure success, you need to ensure that there is sufficient analysis, planning and insight. This will keep you in control of the process when external circumstances hit, to guarantee all members of the company are handled in the right way.

  • Keep the Human Factor in Focus

Human factors

Speaking of members of the organisation, you need to be aware that how you handle company restructuring affects everyone in the company. As a human resources expert, it is your responsibility to ensure the process is both professional and considerate of all affected members. With the recent layoffs in Kenya, most employees in the country are on high alert and any slight shift in the company’s operations makes them suspicious of a pending layoff.

As such, open communication is key every time the company is undergoing a shift in its focus or operations. Rightsizing empowers all stakeholders in the company to embrace the impending changes and gives employees an opportunity to buy into the idea. If a reshuffling is inevitable, let employees understand the situation and their options in good time. This gives a chance to those who feel they have transferable skills that can fit in the new system to grow into the available positions. Sufficient notice also gives those likely to be affected by layoffs enough time to look for other opportunities.

Remember, how everyone is treated during the transition period affects the morale of those being left behind. They should feel that even if something like that happens again, they will be treated with utmost professionalism and consideration.

  • Get the Human Resource Need Right


During a company’s restructuring process, it is easy to overlook the important issues in a rush to respond to harsh economic times or a sudden shift in operations. This results in a hurried downsizing process that might leave the company with gaping positions that could have been filled by the existing staff.

Rightsizing is strategic and takes into consideration the company’s long-term survival. As a human resource professional, you should conduct a competency audit regularly to have an updated view of departmental need. This not only helps you plan for future recruitment drives and budget accordingly but also helps you stay prepared for any shifts internally or externally that may require an immediate shift in operations or focus.

Always work to overlay performance management information gained from the regular reviews with talent management data gained from insights and predictions from the Kenyan market trends as well as the company’s trajectory.

  • Keep the Good Will in the Industry

Industry good will

Despite the fact that the Kenyan job market is currently saturated with qualified job seekers, do not assume that it will be easy to hire in the face of a recent downsizing. When a company restructures, it gets rid of redundant positions and seeks to fill other arising human resource needs that will help serve their current focus. Naturally, job seekers will shy away from a company that has had a recent downsizing episode. Who can blame them? They rightfully doubt the security of the positions being advertised for.

When rightsizing is done right, there is rarely an uproar in the market about your recent move to restructure. The planning and insight involved in rightsizing ensure that your company is in control of the information that goes out and that it packages this intel in a way that communicates the facts of the matter and paints the company in a professional way. This way, your company maintains a good name in the industry and the job market.

Keep your Company Grounded During the Trying Times

Rightsizing done the right way will ensure your company’s posterity and ensure good will in the job market. Handling company restructuring processes in a professional way can help your company stand out as a great employer in a country where company restructuring is considered the current job market cancer.

You can join other HR professionals in this quarter’s HR Forum on 29th June 2017 at Norfolk Hotel Nairobi, to further discuss the impact of rightsizing and how you can make it work for your organisation, as well as share experiences.

Mueke Katwa
I have two years experience in Business Support which covers Human Resource as a function; and a lifelong passion in creative writing.
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