Jun04

Redundancy – Being Open and Honest is Better for All Concerned

Author // Ben Thornhill Categories // Redundancy

Restructuring and redundancy can be one of the most emotionally charged and socially awkward processes most of us will go through in our working lives. It is a time when some extremely tough decisions have to be made that can affect relationships throughout an organisation, from those losing their jobs and for those that remain – including the management, who are the ones often demonised, but are the ones who have to make those calls.

Fortunately, in my experience, the redundancy process that I went through was handled very openly and honestly. Compared to stories that I’ve heard from acquaintances, this is not the norm.

How not to deal with redundancy

I have heard of people being called into an office and told that they are surplus to requirements, effective immediately, with no prior warning. Next minute they are clearing their desks in tears before getting on the train back to the home that they can no longer pay the mortgage for. Surely this should never be allowed to happen?

Safeguard your organisation’s reputation

Isn’t it much better for management to tell people early on that cut backs are going to be made to secure the long-term future of the company? Shouldn’t people be given adequate notice and support to find a new job or re-train, enabling them to learn new skills that would widen their prospects when they leave the company? Wouldn’t that approach make those left behind feel better about keeping their jobs if they knew their friends and colleagues were going to be ok?
Surely the people making the redundancies should know that how they deal with restructuring will reflect badly on their organisation and hurt their reputation if handled without compassion? Would you ever give your custom to an organisation that sacked somebody you knew at a moment’s notice? It is important to remember that angry employees will vent to friends and possibly potential clients.

Think of those left behind

How would you feel as an employee of such a company if you were one of the ‘lucky’ ones who kept their job and all of a sudden your workload dramatically increased without warning? I doubt you would be chuffed with your superiors. You would probably be more motivated to find a new job than you would be to carry on where you are.
It strikes me that, because of the potential there is for a bad reaction from staff, some decision makers don’t face up to their responsibility, which has to be ensuring that everyone is taken care of to the best of their ability not avoiding the issue until the very last minute.

Communication is vital

When our company had to restructure, we were informed very quickly of the implications for the business. Our team of directors worked tirelessly to secure new business for the company and kept the staff updated on the progress.

Every manager encouraged staff to express their concerns and they were given honest answers about the future of the business and the impact on their job role. This afforded many people the time to find new jobs; anyone needing time off for an interview was granted permission to do so; anyone who wanted access to funded training through a funded Response to Redundancy service could do so; directors had one-to-one sessions with all staff – those who were going and those who were staying.

From a personal perspective, this made me feel fairly safe and certainly not angry or overly worried. Of course, at any time of great change at work, you’re going to have questions and anxieties about what your working life will be like in the future, but I certainly didn’t feel as though I would be out of a job tomorrow and struggling to pay the rent.
As it turned out I was lucky to stay on, but having spoken to colleagues, those leaving were well looked after and the company fought hard to find them new roles elsewhere, giving them as much support as possible.

Redundancy can be a very disheartening experience that can greatly affect one’s career and a company’s reputation, particularly if it is poorly handled. If a company is open and honest about why an employee has to be let go and given encouragement and support to find new work, that individual is far less likely to lose their confidence and lose their way.

The upside of redundancy

Even though being made redundant may be very traumatic, many if not all the individuals that I have spoken to have labelled being made redundant as the best thing that has ever happened to them. It presented them with new opportunities and made radical career changes, that in the end made their lives more fulfilling and rewarding, possible.

Have you been through or are you currently going through redundancy? Positive or negative, I’d be very interested to hear about different experiences and different viewpoints? What support were you given or did you provide? How did it make you feel?

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