Why compassion in redundancy situations is vital

Lizzie Buxton

Written By Suzanne Rouart

28th March 2023

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Redundancies are hugely disruptive and a difficult time for everyone involved, causing emotional stress and impacting employees wellbeing and productivity. Properly managing redundancies can significantly impact how individuals respond to the situation, the moral of those remaining in the business and the organisation’s reputation and future success. It’s important to ensure that impacted employees are well-prepared for the challenges ahead and that they feel as supported and positive as possible in this very challenging situation. When the process is perceived as compassionate, employees are less likely to raise disputes and the risk of disruption can be reduced.

Treating employees with dignity and respect, providing them with clear and transparent information about the process and their options, and supporting them through the transition is essential to achieve a compassionate redundancy. The ultimate goal is to minimise the emotional toll the process takes on everyone involved while also ensuring that the business can operate effectively in the long term.

The risk of not putting people experiences at the heart of redundancy

The risk of not properly managing redundancy situations with empathy and compassion is significant and can have negative consequences, such as:

  • Legal ramifications If the redundancy process is not handled appropriately, the business may face legal challenges from employees who feel that they have been unfairly dismissed or discriminated against.
  • Reputational damage If employees feel that they have been treated unfairly or with disrespect during the redundancy process, they may share their negative experience with others, including potential customers and employees. This can damage the organisation’s reputation and make it difficult to attract and retain talent.
  • The risk to moral and productivity If the process is not handled well and with empathy, it can lead to low morale, decreased productivity and the risk of increased turnover among remaining employees, resulting in a loss of key skills and knowledge, which can ultimately impact the long-term success of the business.

To mitigate these risks, it’s important to carefully plan redundancies and engage with experts who can support you in ensuring they are handled compliantly and compassionately.

5 tips for achieving compassionate redundancies

  1. Communicate clearly and transparently. Keep communications simple, direct and transparent. Showing compassion means recognising the human element and the emotional impact of the risk to jobs, especially during these challenging economic times. When breaking the news, communicate in a way that acknowledges and reflects the impact of the situation on individuals. Share the reasoning behind the decision and be open about the steps taken to avoid or minimise job losses, explaining how the process has been made as fair as possible. Also be clear about the process and timescales involved to minimise uncertainty. Use empathetic and sincere language to convey how much you care about the impacted employees. By communicating with openness and transparency, you can help to alleviate the stress and anxiety associated with redundancies and foster trust and understanding among all parties involved.
  1. Provide those managing the process with adequate support. Many managers involved in conveying the redundancy message to their teams will be facing the situation for the first time, so they will lack confidence and experience. It’s important to also consider the impact on their wellbeing and productivity in the process as it will take a toll, so providing and signposting wellbeing support for those involved in managing the process will help . Providing adequate training and support for managing difficult conversations is essential to ensure they are able to focus on delivering a consistent and compassionate experience with confidence.
  1. Reduce the administrative burden so that you can focus on the employee experience. Preparing communication templates and scripts, and getting note-taking support for the consultation process will help to ensure that those managing the process are well prepared and can focus on being present in the moment for the employee. Investing in technology, like the Meeting Manager solution from AdviserPlus, can help simplify processes and ensure busy managers can focus on being empathetic for their impacted employees. Technology also plays a key role in ensuring processes are delivered consistently and that progress is effectively monitored.
  1. Support employees in securing the best next step. Providing career transition and outplacement support for impacted employees demonstrates your commitment to employee wellbeing. Outplacement services, such as those provided by our other group partner, Working Transitions, support redundant employees through the challenges and opportunities of change. Providing expert career coaching, guidance and career transitioning resources and learning services, such as CV writing, interviewing and networking, helps to foster an experience of compassion and opportunity.
  1. Support those remaining in the business. Consider the broader impact on the team and those who will continue to work for you. ‘Survivor guilt’ can have a significant impact on the productivity and moral of those remaining in the business, so it’s key to communicate effectively with the wider team and also provide training for managers to recognise and signpost support for those who are experiencing low moral. Continue to communicate and keep the team informed and prepare managers to deal with concerns to help build trust and confidence.  Providing mental health support for both those impacted and those remaining in the business shows a commitment to a people-first approach to redundancy.

Compassionate redundancies are essential for better people and business outcomes. By putting people first, simplifying the process, and providing support at every stage, businesses can deliver more positive experience for everyone involved and minimise legal risks.

AdviserPlus and the companies within the Empowering People Group are experienced in supporting businesses through restructuring and workforce reductions. Find out more about our suite of services that simplify redundancy processes to reduce the pain, risk and complexity. Read more here or watch this video.


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