In light of the pandemic and subsequent economic impacts, the unfortunate reality is that not all businesses or roles within organisations will be able to weather the storm. On the surface, redundancy doesn’t seem to have a place in ‘Good Employment’, but now the ‘furlough’ scheme is ending and the alternative measures may not provide sustainability for all, we understand many employers will be considering redundancies. With this in mind, our last Supporters Network Webinar was on doing redundancy right, and our panel provided insight on good employer considerations, guidelines and practical elements – equipping employers with the necessary tools to do so with good employment in mind. The key points are summarised below, along with a list of relevant resources and the full video recording.
Develop open, clear and constant communication with employees.
During the redundancy process, it is important to maintain good communication with all employees – not only those directly affected. This involves explaining to all staff why redundancy is the only option, outlining all the previous measures taken to avoid this outcome, and communicating in a way that allows for feedback. Beginning the process in this way will reduce overall fears regarding the outcome, as employees will know that all important news will be properly communicated to them.
When delivering the news to the employees directly affected, it must be understood that this will be a difficult experience for all involved, and so the situation needs to be handled with patience and respect. Whilst employers can control their deliverance, it is harder to control or anticipate the response. Affected employees are likely to go through a range of emotions - including shock, fear and anger. Remaining calm and offering further contact and support is the right response to these emotions, whilst understanding these are common responses to such news.
Deliver comprehensive training and support for managers.
Redundancy is an emotional process for both employees and managers; no manager will want to be delivering this news, and many will be ill-prepared to do so without sufficient training. Providing managers with guidance and support is essential – never assume that they know how to handle it.
Another important aspect to consider is the wellbeing of managers during this process. It is important to check in with managers or encourage closer colleagues to do so, to check on their emotional wellbeing and encourage them to take time for themselves. Whilst this is news that nobody wants to deliver, supporting the relevant managers to be able to do so will ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible for all parties involved.
Consider support for employees moving forward.
This process does not end when the news has been delivered to the affected employees. Ensuring that your organisation has fully developed redundancy support packages, which sufficiently consider the right levels of both financial and emotional support, is something worth frequent review. Check who is eligible for this support and if it is possible to extend support to groups who may not be currently eligible, for example newer members of staff.
There are numerous organisations with resources and events available which may be relevant to signpost affected employees towards. For example, local job centres often have a plethora of support regarding available financial assistance and the job market which may prove useful. It is also important to note that support should extend to remaining employees within an organisation. These employees are likely to have heightened fears regarding their own position, and will also be affected by the loss of team members. Communicate and offer guidance where possible, while remaining honest and transparent about company decisions moving forward.
Handling this process appropriately and responsibly is key during what is, and will continue to be, a difficult time for organisations and individuals alike.
Susan Raftery, Senior Advisor and Conciliator at Acas
Matthew Ainsworth, Assistant Director of Employment Policy, Strategy and Delivery at GMCA
Sharon De Mascia, Chartered Occupational Psychologist and Director at Cognoscenti Business Psychologists Ltd
Maria Cearns, Managing Director of Customer and People at The Co-operative Bank
- Full video recording: Supporters Network Webinar
- Acas, CBI and TUC: Statement on handling redundancies - Covid-19 update on handling the redundancy process
- Acas: Redundancy Process Map - Steps to go through and alternatives
- Business Growth Hub: Redundancy during Covid-19 Resources - Considerations before redundancy, the process, support
- CIPD: Redundancy resources - Procedures, costs, the legal position
- The Growth Company Skills Support: Skills Support for the Workforce Resources and Brochure - Fully funded skills support tailored to business needs