Redundancies may be a necessary part of doing business, but if handled poorly, they can have a detrimental impact on an organisation's brand and reputation. 

The current economic climate of restructuring, technological disruption and industry downturn leads to tens of thousands of redundancies, with many employees on the receiving end having had a negative experience. 

It doesn’t have to be like that. You, as the HR professional, can mitigate the damage. You can handle redundancies in the most appropriate and considerate manner, so the employee moves on quickly and finds new employment. Whatever the circumstances under which they leave, you want employees to feel that the organisation has always treated them with respect.

Whether or not you’ve handled a redundancy before, there are some key factors to keep front of mind.

here’s your redundancy management checklist:

An illustration of 4 people with different heights
An illustration of 4 people with different heights

prepare for the situation.

Avoid entering the meeting unprepared – plan what to say and how to answer possible questions. The employee may ask about their rights, contact details, the redundancy package and support available.

For many people, being retrenched is a great shock – they may feel frightened, stressed, angry or betrayed. How an employee reacts in the first few hours and days, as they try to cope, can have a significant impact on their life and career for years to come.

seek advice.

Talk to professionals and colleagues who have dealt with this before. Ask them what worked and what didn’t.

You could also consider using an outplacement service to advise how to deliver the message; what to say, what not to say and how to say it.

have support onsite on the day.

Retrenching someone isn’t pleasant. You can expect to feel nervous before and rotten afterwards.

You should always have some support on-site on the day – an outplacement consultant, HR manager or business coach – can provide support for both you and the employee. 

provide ongoing support.

The redundancy issue isn’t confined to the initial meeting. An employee may take the news well at first, but then become overwhelmed and need help coping with it. Too many managers are oblivious to this. Check how the employee is feeling later on in the day and for some time afterwards.

At its most basic, this should include follow-up meetings to monitor their feelings and offers of further advice and support. This can also help generate loyalty and understanding among the remaining staff. A specialist outplacement service can also handle ongoing support.

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