In last week’s blog we looked at how best to communicate a redundancy to affected staff. In this, the third and final part of our blog series, we consider the next stage of the redundancy process. How do you best support the employee leaving the business, as well as take care of the employees left behind?
But first let’s address one question – why is this important? Well to answer this, consider it in a different way – what could happen if the redundancy notification is handled badly? Worst case scenario is that you make a costly mistake, potentially exposing the business to a costly unfair dismissal case. But this isn’t just about doing the things the legal way, it’s also about doing them the right way. Employees whose roles are made redundant want to feel that the decision was made carefully, with care and thought going into the decision, and that the business did everything they could to find them suitable employment within the organisation. These people will remember how they were treated by this business, and they won’t hesitate to tell other people in the industry about their experience; whether it be good, bad or very very ugly. On top of all the other work that comes with executing a redundancy, the last thing you want is having someone leave the business feeling mistreated, resentful and angry.
An effective Outplacement service, with a holistic approach to the redundancy process, is the number one way to ensure a redundancy goes smoothly. Stay with us here; we know that Outplacement gets a bit of a bad rap sometimes, and we know that there are some providers out there that don’t really do a great job. They might meet with the exiting employee, show them how to tweak their resume or answer interview questions… and that’s about it. But really a good Outplacement service should have a big picture, end to end focus that actually adds value to the business and the affected employees. To break it down simply, a good Outplacement service should offer two components; business support, and individual support.
Support to the business is crucial both before and after the redundancy notification. An effective Outplacement provider should be engaged to assist the business with developing and implementing a clear and consistent communication plan. Advice and guidance should also be offered to the manager responsible for the redundancy meeting, including preparation of a script and strategies for communicating the redundancy and managing employee reactions
(which we explored in more detail last week). Typically the support offered to businesses by most Outplacement providers stops here. However a more robust
process should continue because there are the employees left behind; just because they survived the redundancy doesn’t mean they are not impacted. ‘Survivor guilt’ occurs when employees see their co-workers being retrenched, and they start to experience feelings of sadness or perhaps guilt; many ask ‘why them and not me?’ There can also be concerns that their role will be the next to be made redundant, leading to increased anxiety and uncertainty. It’s not uncommon to see resentment build up among remaining employees, as their workloads increase as a result of downsizing. This can lead to increasing absenteeism and workplace stress and decreased morale, and ultimately any of these reactions can lead to increased turnover and businesses losing more high-performing employees. A good Outplacement service takes an organisation-wide approach, considering the impact on not just the exiting employees but also on the employees that remain with the business, and helps the managers to support their remaining staff.
The support to the individual who is leaving the business is also of critical importance, but only if it’s done right. Does someone who’s been in the workforce for decades really need tips on how to apply for a job? And after they’ve just experienced the shock and trauma of being told they no longer have a job, do they really need a consultant encouraging them to just rush right back into the job market? The answer to both of those questions is probably no. A good Outplacement provider will initially offer emotional support and counselling, assessing for anything underlying in terms of a developing depressive episode, and assist with processing the news and adjusting to a sudden change. When the time is right and the individual is ready, careers counselling should be offered in a way that is meaningful, timely and adds value to their job search. This part of the program should be tailored specifically to the needs and wants of the individual. Too often we hear of Outplacement packages that offer help with applying for jobs, maybe provide an office space to use a computer and make calls from, and that’s the end of it – regardless of the needs of the person. Anyone can benefit from Outplacement services but only if they are tailored to their individual needs; and of course only if they receive good support from the business as well.
We’ve all heard stories in the media about redundancies handled badly; employees are told the news, escorted off the premises, don’t get to say good bye to their workmates and are never offered any type of ongoing support. And these are people are not going to be saying good things to other people about your business!
We hope our blog series focusing on Redundancy the right way has given you something to think about. If your business is about to go through a redundancy process, why not get in touch and see how we can help?