managing redundancy: good practice

Digital disruption and new technologies both create new jobs and make existing roles redundant. Restructuring can take place for a variety of reasons at any time within a business’ life cycle – such as loss of business, reduced profits, a directive from head office, new management or a merger. It is important to communicate those changes to everyone involved in a timely and collaborative manner.

Redundancy handled badly can have a detrimental effect on the organisation’s reputation. Employers should look to handle the situation in an appropriate and professional manner, treating those involved with respect and consideration throughout the process. 

It is important that employers are prepared with a documented process, allowing for different reactions from employees. A well-managed redundancy process is critical to help employees facing redundancy to feel supported, to be able to move on quickly to new employment and reduce any legal challenges against the employer.

Checklist for managing redundancy

1. prepare for the situation, the questions and possible reactions

Plan what will be said to employees, and how to answer possible questions that may arise. Employees may ask about their rights, what they are entitled to, the redundancy package on offer, and what support is available to them. 

News of redundancy often comes as a shock, and employees may feel a combination of emotions, including fear, stress, anger, and betrayal. How they cope with the consequences can affect their life and career for years to come, so employers must deal with employees honestly, and offer support where possible.

2. seek advice

If the company has not encountered redundancies before, it may be beneficial to use an outplacement service to advise on how to deliver the message; what to say, what not to say, how to say it; and can provide support, advice and consultation for those affected. 

Employers with prior experience with redundancies may wish to consult with professionals and colleagues on what worked before, and how to improve their approach.

3. have support onsite on the day

The benefits of having support through outplacement services will be felt by all parties – the manager, the organisation, the employee and the remaining employees.

By offering career transition coaching, the organisation demonstrates to remaining employees that while they had to make a commercial decision, they still look after their employees. It can show remaining staff their colleagues were supported, and the outcome was positive.

Showing support can help generate loyalty and understanding amongst staff, which translates into a range of positive benefits for the business.

4. provide ongoing support

An employee may initially take the news of redundancy well, but could soon become overwhelmed once the meeting has finished. They may suddenly feel they don’t know what to do next, where to start, what to think, and they need assistance coping with the news. 

Too many managers are oblivious to this, thinking the meeting and the news of redundancy have gone well, and do not follow up with the employee later on. Employers need to offer advice and support to the employee on the day and for some time after they have received the news. At its most basic level, this support should include follow-up meetings with the employee, to monitor their feelings and to offer advice and support.

Managers should also make themselves available at other times in case the employee needs to speak to them for advice. Ongoing support can also be handled by specialist outplacement service providers.

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