Redundancy and the emotional burden on HR

07/12/2014

hand gripping stress ballWhilst most people are aware that making redundancies or restructuring a team can place a great strain on individuals let go as well as those who remain behind, often the strain on the HR teams managing the wellbeing of these individuals is forgotten. As we work alongside so many different HR professionals, at Renovo we’ve witnessed the turmoil such procedures can cause first hand. Particularly within smaller organisations where the HR team is more likely to know different staff members individually, the emotional stress of being the link between organisational objectives, business needs and those directly affected by job cuts can be significant. Here’s a look at how you can take care of employees whilst ensuring you have the support you need.

Delivering the news

In many organisations, a member of the HR team will typically be responsible for delivering the unfortunate news to those in the redundancy pool, perhaps in conjunction with a line manager. This will understandably be difficult, particularly if you know details of their personal lives, family commitments or financial needs. To provide the best support to individuals, ensure you’ll be able to give them clear, consistent information about why they have been selected, what outplacement support they will receive and what the next steps will be. Brace yourself for any and all emotional reactions, some of which may not be shown immediately but later as the news is processed. As difficult as it is, the challenge you will face in this instance will be to remain kind and compassionate whilst being the clear, firm voice of the business. If it helps, learn techniques to remain calm in the face of highly stressful situations, and ensure you’ll have an opportunity to take a breather before returning to your desk.

Dealing with emotional aftermath

Different employees will react to the news of redundancy in different ways, and you could face anger, confusion, distress and sadness, amongst others. Those individuals not selected for redundancy will likely go through a range of these emotions too, as well as ‘survivor guilt’ and uncertainty about their future role in the business. If not managed correctly, these emotions can unsettle a business and may result in the strongest individuals not selected for redundancy handing in their notice. The best means of combatting this will be to ensure that all individuals are provided with emotional and professional support at the point where the news is delivered. This should be given verbally as well as in writing so that it can be referred to at a later point.

Organising outplacement support in advance of making redundancies can make the news easier to deliver and significantly reduce the emotional fallout that is, to a certain degree, inevitable. Using a third party agency for outplacement support will also help to decrease the impact of the news and will allow you and the rest of the HR team time to process the news yourselves. By extending emotional support to remaining staff and being on hand to answer questions about how roles and workloads will change, the morale of those left behind is likely to remain much higher. This will help to build trust in your organisation as employers once again, and can significantly decrease absenteeism following the news.

Taking care of yourself

Whilst you are doing all you can to ensure that company objectives are met and that all staff members affected by the restructure have the support they need, you will need to allow time to look after your own wellbeing. Now more than ever, managing your sleep, diet and exercise will help you to maintain balance and deal with a significantly increased stress load. By pulling together as a team and communicating your needs and challenges, you may find that you are better equipped to share workloads and ask for help when it’s needed. You’ve provided everyone else in your organisation with time, space and support to process the news – so it’s only fair you allow yourself the same courtesies.

If you’re concerned about your role and responsibilities in a time of change and redundancies, Renovo can help. Why not find out more about how we can support you by getting in touch today?

Renovo is one of the UK’s leading providers of outplacement and career transition support. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you please call 0800 612 2011 or email info@renovo.uk.com

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