In the last year, I have advised more than 500 employees who have been made redundant and exited their employer’s business with an enhanced redundancy package.
Some of these employees, such as those looking to retire, have been delighted to be offered an enhanced redundnacy package. Others have been shocked and upset.
However, for all of the employees I have advised, one thing is always the same — losing their job is a huge adjustment to their life.
With it being Mental Health Awareness Week, I’ve put together a list of four ways to support staff through redundancy.
This list takes into account what I have learned from listening to employees who have been involved in a redundancy process during the last year.
1. Communication — those hearing about redundancies for the first time often talk about hearing “unclear” or “contradictory” information through the grapevine which increases stress. Communicating key steps and deadlines and providing a Q&A that addresses some of the most common questions, such as termination payments, can help reduce anxiety.
2. Support — it is always good to give those going through the redundancy procedure an appropriate level of support, with named managers and members of HR being available to talk if required. It can also be helpful to direct employees to external support, such as employee assistance programmes, via any private medical insurance or occupational health providers, or speaking to their GP about talking therapies.
3. Advice — employers can offer affected employees paid outplacement services to assist with CV writing and job searching. There is no legal obligation to do this, but it can make the process better for the employees (and help the employer’s reputation).
4. Don’t forget about the “survivors” — remember that it's not just those employees who are being made redundant that may be struggling; reducing the number of staff can in some circumstances result in an increased workload for others, even if there is a reduced requirement for work overall. A shake-up and change in the workforce can also impact on colleagues and, in turn, the business. Communicating with employees about the business plan going forward and listening to any concerns they have can help.
Finally, employers should also be mindful of those in HR and management who are leading the redundancy meetings and any employee representatives. The redundancy process can be uncomfortable — we are all human after all — and so consider training for these individuals so that they feel well versed to undertake these challenging tasks.
For a lot of us, a job is not just a job. Many see their profession as part of their identity. Plus, work can provide structure and a sense of purpose for some people.