Making Redundancies – How To Break It To Your Staff Informing Staff About Making Redundancies
It’s not fun and no business owner wants to do it. It usually means there’s a financial issue within the business or that work has dried up. But sometimes,
making redundancies is the only way to protect the long term future of a business. However, if you’re making redundancies, there are rules that must be followed and boxes that need to be ticked. Failing to do everything by the book can end up costing you £1,000’s in employment tribunal claims further down the line. So, whilst we all wish it was as simple as keeping your best staff and dismissing the worst, it’s not quite that simple. And “last in, first out” doesn’t always work either!
Let’s face it, if you’re reading this then you’re likely considering making redundancies. It’s an awful situation for an employer to find themselves in. To make it worse, your staff will likely be aware that there are issues and redundancy is being discussed. Unfortunately, that kind of workplace atmosphere quickly becomes toxic. You’ll want to address the situation before the atmosphere sours. But announcing that the business is considering making redundancies will probably only make things worse. What should you do to address the situation without demotivating your staff and creating a more toxic atmosphere?
Addressing The Situation
The best advice is to be transparent, professional and to the point. Accept that your staff likely already know more than you think they do. They’ll already be aware of a downturn in work and rumours will be spreading through your workplace. Remember, they’re your frontline so when work slows down, they know. They’ll also notice an increase in meetings involving company wide management staff. When making redundancies, secrecy can actually make the situation worse. Your staff will feel like something’s going on and will grow distrustful of your management team and the business in general. However, we’re not saying you should send a company wide email!
When you’re considering making redundancies, you should look to address the departments or individuals likely affected early. By opening those lines of communication early, you can quell any distrust. It also gives you an opportunity to address any individual issues and work with your staff. It could be that a number of staff are considering new opportunities and this is the push they need. There could also be those who would accept voluntary redundancy. By speaking to your staff about making redundancies, you could actually solve your issues!
Before you go any further, download your FREE copy of our Employers Guide to Making Redundancies. Simply click here to get your copy
The Guardian published a 10 step guide to
letting your employees know you’re making redundancies back in 2013 and this basic advice still holds up today: Develop a Clear Communication Strategy
Considering making redundancies is a difficult situation. It’s important to have a clear and consistent message that you can explain to your staff. This helps them understand why the business needs to do this. Try not to deviate from this message. Many managers and employers find themselves causing more problems when trying to be less formal or ‘more friendly’. When making redundancies, staff don’t need a friends, they need a leader they can trust!
Keep it Simple
To accept the situation, your staff need to understand why you’re making redundancies. They need to know if/how this affects their job and what happens next. Avoid corporate buzzwords and jargon that could complicate or confuse the message. You want to avoid creating more confusion for your staff.
Prepare and Practise
Take the time to plan what you’re going to say to your staff. Plan, prepare and practise until you can deliver the message confidently and clearly. Your staff look to you for leadership and in tough times like this, that’s what they need. Your staff will likely have difficult questions like “why me?” so be prepared to answer them. Everyone reacts differently to this kind of news. Be prepared for any situations that may arise.
Delivering bad news can be stressful. When they’re trying to stay in control, people often speak too much and don’t listen enough. By practising the message and becoming confident in your delivery, you’ll be more relaxed and able to actually hear what’s being said to you. By listening to your staff and addressing their concerns, you’re showing respect for them and the situation. No one wants to feel like they’ve received life changing news and then ignored.
Timing is Critical
Speak to those at risk of redundancy first! Make sure your communication channels are all in sync and nothing slips out early. You’ll alienate your staff and create a toxic environment if people find out before you’ve spoken to them.
Try to remain both professional and compassionate. When you’re making redundancies, you’re delivering news that changes someone’s entire life. Take the time to see the situation from their side and how this will affect them and their lives. This will help you communicate with your staff correctly, especially those you have been with your business for a long period of time.