Redundancies are unfortunately, a part of modern business. Something people will go through once, if not many times during their career. As an outplacement provider we understand the importance of looking after those that are leaving, helping to give them as smooth a transition as possible towards their next role. But, what about those that are staying?
The process can last three to six months, which is a lot of time for office chatter to be about people’s struggles to find a new role or concerns about the future. Plenty of time for to see their friends and colleagues upset, this is made worse when having to compete against them for a limited number of roles. This will all have a detrimental effect, impacting on morale, productivity and the general wellbeing of all involved.
What can you do to make sure remaining staff not only survive the process, but go onto thrive in your new world?
1. Clear communication – whether the redundancies involve a whole team or just a few members, make sure that there is a clear and well thought out communication plan that lets everyone involved know (regardless of whether they are going or not). Nobody should hear about redundancies second hand or via the office gossip.
Make it clear who will be directly affected and what criteria has been used (or will be used if selection is yet to take place). Give guidance to timescales and key dates, such as interviews, decisions and final leaving date etc. This will all help to reduce any confusion.
Specifically, for those that are staying focus on the positives, how the move will help secure the long-term future of the company or allow for growth in a more profitable area etc… Let them know that the decision to make redundancies wasn’t a quick one, that it is part of a longer-term plan.
2. They’ll be emotional too – we spend as much, if not more, time at work as we do at home. Therefore, it is understandable that people will develop an emotional attachment to those they work with and be sad, upset, angry and in denial when told they’ll be leaving. Managers and leaders should be prepared for an emotional response and have been given guidance on how to handle this.
3. Give them support – survivor syndrome is real. While it is more often associated with the survivors of major disasters or traumas, those ‘surviving’ redundancy can have similar thoughts. Such as ‘why did I survive’, ‘why was I the lucky one’ etc.. For some this sense of guilt at being one of the ones to remain, stops them from moving forward. If, as an employer, you feel that your staff are at risk of this, then give them the option to speak to someone, whether that’s a professional counsellor or a support group made up of their peers. Make it ok for people to voice their concerns and ask for help.
4. Don’t isolate them from the process – don’t conduct the redundancy behind closed doors and shut out those that are staying. While they obviously don’t need to be as involved as those going through the process, they should be included in any communications, have the opportunity to see and speak to managers.
If the redundancy is part of a wider scale reorganisation, then make sure those staying are included in that process, asked their opinion and advice. Help them to feel they’re making a difference and are part of the company’s future.
5. Don’t stop talking once it’s over – the impact of a mass change programme doesn’t stop when those leaving have gone. Make sure that there is structured communication and feedback in place, so you can ensure that the changes you made are having the desired effect. That morale, engagement and motivation are all at acceptable levels. The last thing you want, is for those you wanted to stay, to be so disillusioned with the new world that they decide to go elsewhere.
Remember your employees are your future, so make sure you look after them.
‘How to help redundancy survivors…’ was written by Mike Burgneay, MD Chiumento Ltd. If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future careers advice and musings on the world of work.