In this article I am going to touch on more of the human side of making redundancies, which is never easy, having heard over the years many of the complaints that employees make about their employers and the way they handle things.

Firstly, when making a redundancy announcement it is really important that the management team making that announcement are seen to treat the situation with the significance it deserves.  There is nothing worse than people feeling that whilst a major life event is happening to them, as they were walking into the room they heard the management team joking and laughing at a time when, in their colleagues’ eyes, they knew they were going to be delivering bad news.

At that meeting and at any others during the process it is also really important that people have the opportunity to ask questions.  Employees do view it as particularly cowardly if managers are not prepared to take questions or try and shut down conversation.  People naturally have lots and lots of questions and may need the same information provided in a number of ways so, for example, in Frequently Asked Questions documents or in verbal explanation more than once as it may not sink in first time round and people don’t necessarily understand key concepts like pools of selection or selection matrices straight away.

Don’t assume people will have read the documents you issue them with. Many are in a state of shock and can’t face it so they won’t. That’s why it’s important for managers to walk people through information.

If you do go down the road of volunteers, you have to accept that to some extent the ‘wrong’ people may come forward.  Sometimes the best people feel they can see an organisation changing and take the view that they’d rather ‘get out now’ despite the fact that they probably wouldn’t be selected if a selection exercise took place.  Equally, where people have volunteered, perhaps because of their age and length of service because they have a decent sized redundancy package, if they are not accepted for voluntary redundancy this can cause significant resentment. I have even known people to volunteer in order to protect their colleagues from compulsory redundancy.

When it comes to selection processes organisations can definitely do more to explain to people how their scoring systems have been applied. The better communication there is the less likely someone is to challenge.

Don’t assume staff won’t share everything with each other: they do. Rumours will also be abundant so you will need to dispel myths and misinformation.

When it comes to those who are selected employees worry about the payments they are going to receive: well you would wouldn’t you? Don’t send them indicative figures of redundancy packages setting out that they will receive payment in lieu of notice and then announce you want them to work it out and take all their holiday as they will despite the fact that they are still receiving the same monies, feel cheated. If you are likely to want people to work out all or part of their notice plan this from the outset and be clear that that is the case.

Lastly, remember that your staff who will remain are watching how you do all this and a badly handled exercise can do untold damage in that regard, especially when the remaining staff may have survivor’s guilt. The best employers do something to engage positively with those who are left rather than just leaving them to be grateful they still have a job.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Anna