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Coping With Redundancies

Coping with redundancyRedundancy can cause a great deal of disruption to an employee’s life, impacting finances, sense of worth, family commitments, where they live and much more.

As a HR professional or business leader, there are steps that you can take to protect the wellbeing of your employees during the transition period, which is the time between telling them their position is being made redundant to them actually leaving your organisation. Here are some suggestions:

  • Understand the process of loss: This can help immensely as it provides a framework for making sense of the reactions and behaviour during the transition period. It will allow you to work with empathy in a difficult climate. Grief and loss usually follow five key steps:
  1. Disbelief: It may be difficult for an employee to accept the loss of their job. They may talk about future projects or plans as though their employment is continuing.
  2. Anger: An employee may feel angry about the reasons for their job loss or how or when they were told. They may focus on an aspect that seems unfair.
  3. Guilt: An employee may blame themselves for their job loss or think that it is related to their performance. They may keep thinking about the “what ifs” and the things they didn’t do.
  4. Depression: At some point, an employee may begin to feel the impact of their job loss. When an employee accepts that the decision was outside of their control, they start to understand what it will mean to be unemployed. It is then likely that the employee will experience feelings of sadness and be able to talk about their feelings with trusted friends, family or colleagues.
  5. Acceptance: Eventually, an employee will accept that they have lost their job and will be leaving your organisation. It may now be appropriate to arrange a social event or gathering - this is important and therapeutic and allows employees to move on with dignity.
  • Be available: Being present physically and psychologically rather than avoiding employees during the transition, can make a significant difference and communicates a sense of responsibility to employees. It will also allow you to see how employees are coping with the transition and arrange intervention if necessary.
  • Provide information: Uncertainty and rumour abound during times of redundancy and change. Information, where it is available, helps employees gain a realistic perspective of the situation they are faced with. Familiarise yourself with company redundancy procedures so that you are prepared for questions.
  • Encourage employees to seek assistance: Ensure that employees are aware of the support available through any EAP or outplacement services you may have available. These services provide an independent means of support and can help the transition.
  • Mark endings: Employees leaving your organisation (and those remaining) need endings. Rituals are an important part of any workplace culture but during times of change, they are crucial to psychological transitions. Social events and gatherings allow people to move on with dignity.

Finally, during times of redundancy, it is also crucial to pay attention to the employees that remain. The lack of attention to those left behind, “survivors”, as they are often called, is a classic mistake made by many organisations. As an HR professional, it’s important to be aware of what employees are feeling and to offer support in ways that can help them get through this difficult and challenging period.

Ceridian’s EAP, LifeWorks has recently introduced a new audio recording “Working Through Times of Change”. On it, Gregory Shea and Robert Gunther, authors of Your Job Survival Guide: A Manual for Thriving in Change offer advice to employees on how to thrive in a business world of constant change.

If you’d like to find out how Ceridian’s EAP can support your line managers and employees through times of change and redundancy or if you’d like more information on our Outplacement services, please contact 0800 0482 737.

  • 1st April 2009
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1 Comment

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Toye Thomas

My comment is on how can you get HR people to talk figures that will bring them to the recognition level CEOs give accountants? For me until HR people get to that level, companies will still see the HR function as one to be kept in a back office responsible for hiring and firing and not a strategic function.

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