A ‘virtual TUPE coffee morning’ may not attract newspaper headlines in the same way as the pubs re-opening, but we think the one we ran a couple of weeks ago was pretty brilliant.
We brought together an inspiring group with experience of running TUPEs across a broad spectrum of government departments and agencies. There were some real experts in attendance and it was such a pleasure to hear from them.
During the meet-up, we discussed a couple of TUPE news items from the last few months. Seeing TUPE in the news is rarely a good thing as the stories usually tell of people losing their jobs, senior executives treating employees unfairly and organisations closing their service lines.
However, I don’t think enough noise is made when there is good news surrounding TUPE. It’s easy for your senior team to get caught up in the risks (because they are sizable) but you really should make them aware of the benefits as well - and you can do this as soon as you get started on your TUPE.
In the third in our series of #TUPETopTips, we’re going to walk you through some of the benefits that we think are important to highlight when you’re working on a TUPE.
Benefit 1. Financial Savings
The financial benefits must be thought of on two levels: the TUPE process level and the broader programme level, within which the TUPE is just one element.
At the programme level, TUPEs are often part of in-sourcing or out-sourcing multi-million pound contracts, therefore there is the potential to make significant savings in operational efficiencies. Strategic business decisions, such as merging and consolidating workstreams to better deliver the same services, or removing unnecessary bureaucracy caused by intermediaries, can deliver financial savings for your organisation.
To drill down within the overall programme, you then have the TUPE workstream. Potential TUPE savings are mainly related to ongoing staff costs, including their salaries and any benefits and pensions. Opportunities for savings in this area will be getting better deals on the same benefits, or if staff move out of scope.
Finally, there is the potential to make legal savings. This can be either from needing minimal legal support, or by avoiding legal action and tribunal costs and penalties.
Benefit 2. Knowledge Transfer
TUPEs are all about people moving from one employer to another, when the service or function they perform is moved to another organisation. The organisation they move to will therefore be the recipient not only of the people, but also of the skills and experience they bring with them.
Last month it was reported that Morrisons is moving more of its transport operations unit to an organisation called Wincanton. In the last year, 800 people have been moved to Wincanton through TUPE transfer.
Wincanton has benefitted from this significant swelling of its workforce without having to incur any recruitment costs, but they will also benefit from the experience and knowledge of these new employees. It’s not just arbitrary experience either - take the truck drivers in this instance: they know the precise fleet of vehicles and the exact routes required from the moment they start. This institutional knowledge is invaluable, but to obtain it without spending time and money on recruitment is a major benefit.
Benefit 3. Employee Engagement
A key part of your TUPE will involve consulting the transferring employees, but we strongly recommend also engaging your broader current team. Keep them informed of why it’s happening, what the context is and what the consequences are, when it will take place, and so on. Doing so will ensure they seek any reassurances early on and feel as though they are trusted with strategy, which will help to build engagement. This will result in a positive reputation for your organisation.
Building an engaged workforce has long had a strong correlation with improved performance, as the Harvard Business Review has shown. The bottom line is this: if you make people feel included and consulted during your TUPE, it could enhance productivity.
I noticed another aspect of employee engagement during a different TUPE (although technically, as it was between two government organisations, it was a Cabinet Office Statement of Practice or ‘COSOP’ rather than a TUPE). The Government Commercial Organisation (GCO) was bringing a number of commercial experts across government into their department. When the COSOP happened, there was a sense of prestige for the transferring staff, as their roles were getting recognised for their expertise. They felt valued, and that led to strong engagement.
Benefit 4. Organisational Design
The final benefit we’ve decided to mention is an interesting one. People often associate organisational design with restructures, and we’re not suggesting that you restructure when you do a TUPE. There would be consequences to doing this - for example, any redundancies that take place as a result of a TUPE may land you in hot water (or at an Employment Tribunal).
That being said, if there are services, functions and/or people leaving or joining your company, then see it is an opportunity to consider how you operate. Is your organisation arranged in a way that supports your future business strategy? Or even your current strategy?
Prompting and guiding your senior team in thinking about this is an exciting opportunity for a HR professional to add real value.
What's coming next?
While we’re still buzzing with ideas following the first three in our series of #TUPETopTips, we’re going to take a brief pause for the summer. However, come September, keep your eyes peeled for tips on:
- Key TUPE legislation you should know about
- Engaging your stakeholders
- How to consolidate employee’s terms & conditions
We’re also planning to run another coffee morning before July is over, which we know will be as fascinating and informative as the first one thanks to our amazing attendees. If you’re interested in joining then drop us an email.
We would also really love to hear your feedback on our tips and blogs so far.
Thank you so much for reading our latest TUPE update and we hope you have a wonderful summer!