Redundancy with kindness

Many in HR are having a very tough time dealing with the fall out of Covid-19. This blog provides a simple plan for dealing with the inevitable redundancies with compassion.

You’ve exhausted all the options around flexible furlough, job rotation, career breaks and sabbaticals and are regrettably faced with unavoidable redundancy consultations. Exhausting, depressing and negative for everyone, redundancy ranks as one of the most stressful life experiences. In the current climate, its effects are amplified. For many organisations, particularly those in hospitality right now, mass redundancies are a very sad fact of life. Handling lay-offs in the right way will make a significant difference to how people cope with and react to the event, whether they’re likely to want to return when the situation improves, the reputation and future success of the organisation and the moral of those left behind.

The ultimate goal is that people who have unfortunately been let go are well-equipped for the challenges that lie ahead, and feel in as positive a place as possible emotionally. Putting some time and effort into this will also result in less hassle later. Stanford University research shows that disputes are far less likely to be raised if an employee believes the process to be compassionate and people are less likely to raise wrongful termination claims and/or become disruptive. This blog isn’t going to deal with the legal aspects which you can find here. This is about your reputation, doing the right thing and safeguarding the wellbeing of your people.

A simple plan for compassionate redundancy:

Communicate with care to reduce anxiety and uncertainty

  • Ensure people hear it from you first and not via the grapevine, as early as possible
  • Make messages crystal clear and consistent, use empathetic, sincere language that shows how much you care
  • Be transparent about why this is happening, what you did to avoid it and how you’ve made it as fair as possible
  • Be definite about timescales and logistics
  • Make sure those conveying the message fully understand the situation, know how to hold difficult conversations and are equipped to handle feedback
  • Recognise and value the contributions made so they understand it’s positions not people that are being made redundant
  • Avoid sugar-coating it; treat people like the adults they are, with respect and empathy

Be approachable, listen and act

  • Take the time to understand each individual’s personal circumstances, aspirations and challenges
  • Allow time for people to digest information and then give their feedback
  • Consider all ideas and suggestions
  • Ensure confidential conversations are just that
  • Be flexible e.g. prepared to change the plan if something comes up that you haven’t considered


For the redundant:

  • Ensure they fully understand their rights and options and there are open channels to discuss these on demand
  • Divert some resource to supporting those being made redundant, for example virtual workshops, career support, one to ones and feedback on aspects they could improve,
  • Consider transition buddying and mentoring
  • Put together a support pack to help people enhance their employability with practical help such as cv writing, interviewing skills, useful contacts and so on. There’s tons of free stuff on the internet and here’s a great book
  • Do whatever you can to help people redeploy, help them to think about transferrable skills and being open to options they might not previously have considered
  • Extend the use of employee assistance programmes, counselling services and other relevant tools
  • Consider tools for ongoing (optional) communication

For the ‘survivors’:

  • Make sure leaders at all levels are visible, positive and approachable
  • Keep communicating and updating
  • Involve them in building the future
  • Work out a plan for restoring confidence, rebuilding moral and resolve fears for the future
  • Keep updating them on progress and rebuilding confidence
  • Help them to deal with the emotional effects of losing beloved colleagues and the changes new ways of working will bring about

Overall, consider investing in Wellbee for a robust and responsible approach to safeguarding and tracking the wellbeing of your people.

Can you be sure that the people you unfortunately have to let go are as well-equipped for the challenges that lie ahead and feel as positive as possible emotionally? Will the survivors feel you’ve been fair, compassionate, transparent and responsible?

2020-09-04T16:52:55+01:00 June 26th, 2020|