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How to talk to staff about potential redundancies

By Kate Palmer, Peninsula

October 30 2020 - The UK unemployment rate has recently hit the highest level in over three years.

According to ONS, there were 227,000 redundancies between June and August and a study by Acas found that over a third of employers are likely to make redundancies before the end of the year.

Employees are understandably worried about their futures. So, what can managers do to inform their workers while seeking to limit the stress it will cause?

Provide regular company updates

Whether or not redundancy seems likely, itís important to update your team on company performance.

With economic difficulty being widely reported, employees will be worried about what that means for them and without being updated, their concern could be much greater than if you managed it by providing an update.

Without keeping your workers in the loop, you risk losing your best employees as they begin to look for a more secure job.

Manage expectations but donít raise hopes

If you have already begun to reach out for redundancy advice, itís important to inform your team and explain the steps that you are taking to try and prevent having to make redundancies.

At this stage, you should be specific about revenue targets and empower employees who donít normally work on sales, to think of ways their work can encourage new business.

However, while you want to make people aware of your plan, itís important that everyone understands the serious reality.

You can also reassure people by explaining their right to redundancy pay if it does come to that.

Communicate available support

The possibility of being made redundant can be very emotional for employees. And the stress will be worsened by the current rate of unemployment.

When informing staff about the possibility of unemployment, it is a good idea to remind people about any support services that are available to them, such as employee assistance programmes (EAPs). An EAP can provide confidential and professional help to your staff.

When suggesting that staff should make use of any services that you have available, you should remind them of how to do so. Many people will feel uncomfortable asking how to use the service.

Inform remote workers

During the pandemic, itís unlikely that your entire workforce will be in one location. When updating employees on redundancy consultations, itís vital that the information is relayed to all members of staff as quickly as possible.

Itís also important that everyone receives the same information, so if you need to inform everyone at different times, you should consider writing a script beforehand and making note of any questions asked during each meeting.

If multiple meetings are required to speak to people in different areas or working across different time zones, it might be more efficient to send an email to inform employees of the situation and let them know that you will speak to everyone separately, although it is advisable to share the news in a way that allows people to ask questions.

Donít forget those that donít get left behind

Once redundancies have been announced, itís important to support the wellbeing of those that survived redundancy just as much as those who have been let go.

ĎSurvivors Syndromeí refers to the negative feelings an employee can experience after surviving redundancy.

It can take the form of:

  • Losing trust in the business
  • Being angry at the redundancy process
  • Feeling guilty for keeping their jobs over other employees
  • Fear of another round of redundancies
  • Frustration at having to take on extra work
  • Feelings of imposter syndrome

And it can result in employees who had survived the redundancies seeking new opportunities elsewhere.

To prevent this, itís important to have regular catchups with the remaining team members to ask how they feel about the recent changes and if they need any support.

About the author

Kate Palmer is HR advice and consultancy director at global employment law consultancy, Peninsula.



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