For most people, a redundancy process is a deeply personal matter. It can undermine the beliefs and values that have been shaped and defined over a significant period of their working lives.
When someone is told that they are no longer needed or that the role they perform is no longer important it can be a devastating and isolating experience. These feelings can generate other emotions of vulnerability, depression and even despair and for some employees, they must also contend with perceived limitations such as age, disability, race, or gender as they seek new employment.
How you manage a redundancy process within your business matters.
Here’s how you can ensure redundancy is managed positively:
Be open and honest. Redundancy is not a decision any employer should take lightly. Before considering redundancies, employers should be exploring alternatives to avoid terminating anyone’s employment. If it then becomes apparent, that redundancy is inevitable, the alternatives to redundancy should be shared with employees to help them better understand the situation and appreciate why the decision may be necessary. The more transparent you are around the how, what and when, the more likely you are able to avoid an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ approach and it will be easier for everyone involved.
Give employees the facts. It is likely that some employees may not have experienced a redundancy process before, therefore providing them with the facts and information, such as where to go for advice, how they and others may be selected for redundancy, and where they can find out more about their rights such as an appeal process, can help them feel more informed and confident about their options. It also demonstrates genuine care and concern and can leave a more positive lasting impression of their employment despite the circumstances.
Ensure a fair selection process. When people feel they have been unfairly ‘targeted’ for redundancy, they are bound to become defensive and challenging. Be prepared for and able to answer, ‘why me and not them?’ questions and discussions. Ensure you have followed a fair selection process, which means developing objective, non-discriminatory selection criteria, consulting with affected Employees about the criteria and then apply the criteria consistently across the selected group of employees. Keep notes to be able to justify your decisions if needed later.
Respond to any questions or concerns quickly. Ensure that employees at risk of redundancy can ask questions and have a central person to refer questions or concerns to if the Line Manager is unable to help. Ambiguity contributes to stress and anxiety. Getting back to employees with answers, as quickly as possible, is imperative.
Support their new transitions. There is never a good time to be faced with redundancy. In the current market, it can feel impossible to find alternative employment which will add further stress to an already difficult situation. Providing employees assistance with their CV, helping them to brush up their interviewing skills or simply talking through their next steps following redundancy, can provide valuable assistance and as well as build their confidence.
Ensure a dignified exit. Never underestimate the importance of ensuring Employees leaving the business due to redundancy have a dignified and humane exit. Whilst employees leaving the business due to redundancy, may not want the fuss of a leaving party, they do want to be valued and recognised for their contribution. How line managers or HR manage their exit from the business will be scrutinized by those impacted and leaving the organisation as well as employees who are remaining.
Redundancy is not only a difficult time for your business but potentially life-changing for your employees. As well as providing financial security, employment gives us a sense of identity, belonging and pride, and this is likely to be an emotionally charged experience.
Don’t forget, that there are business benefits of handling redundancy well. By following a fair process and supporting employees throughout, you can establish yourself as a responsible employer, preserve your reputation, and keep remaining employees engaged and productive at this critical time for your business.