Karla McLeod, People & Talent Director at employee benefits provider, Vivup, shares her insights on the importance of employee wellbeing during and after the redundancy process

The pandemic has impacted big and small businesses across multiple levels in the past two years and very few have remained unscathed. While most businesses are bouncing back and reports tells us that the jobs market is thriving, with employee numbers rising to record levels, unfortunately, some have decided they have little choice but to consider restructure and redundancy in order to survive.

How an employer handles the redundancy process should be part of their duty of care to their people

We only have to look to recent headlines like the announcement from P&O Ferries to see how critical employee communications are in such a process and the huge impact these events can have on a business brand and reputation. It is also crucial to focus not only on how employees are treated but also how an employer’s management of the process makes employees feel.

According to the HSE, an employer’s duty of care includes ‘making sure that workers and others are protected from anything that may cause harm, effectively controlling any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace.’

But what happens when those risks are not managed effectively?

It could be argued an employer’s duty of care should extend, within reason, beyond a worker’s duration of employment. Especially when situations of redundancy arise. Redundancy is a word that employees often fear and when placed at risk of redundancy, it can develop into a challenging and emotional rollercoaster for all involved including:

  • the individuals and the families affected
  • the employees who remain
  • the HR team managing the process

So, how can employers do more to support the wellbeing of those affected by redundancy – during and after the process?

  • Communicate regularly – put your people first and be open and transparent with everyone involved. Employees will naturally be anxious but the more you communicate the easier the process will become
  • Provide mental health and wellbeing support – if you have an existing Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) ensure you are clearly signposting the resources available such as 24/7, 365 days of the year telephone support, CBT self-help work booklets, sleep aids and debt advice. Consider extra support during and after the process such as face to face and/or virtual counselling sessions and resilience training if your current EAP is not providing it
  • Access to learning and development support – provide those affected with access to online learning courses so that they can develop and refresh their skills in preparation for re-entering the job market
  • Financial wellbeing – one of the primary concerns for those made redundant is how this event will impact them financially. Proactive employers should consider providing financial wellbeing support and advice to enhance employees’ skills in managing their personal finances more effectively
  • Careers Support – some employees facing redundancy may not have had to face the jobs market for several years, and with the landscape changing so quickly this can be extremely daunting. A good employer can support employees throughout and after the process by providing CV writing or interviewing tips. Employers can also show how much they value employees facing redundancy by leveraging their networks. It can carry a lot of weight, when a company says “we no longer have roles for some of our great people. But we think they’d be great for somebody else.”

Also remember to support the wellbeing of the remaining employees and your HR team leading the process. Communicate, be visible, and be proactive – track employee engagement to monitor the morale and motivation of your people.  Redundancy can be an emotional time for all involved but employers who handle the process responsibly and put their people first can achieve a more positive outcome for all concerned.

 

About the author

I’ve developed my career in Human Resources and Talent Management over the last 20 years in a variety of sectors and been privileged to work in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. My role at Vivup is to continue to build a leading People and Talent function by attracting and developing colleagues, enabling a high performance culture which aligns with our values and where our colleagues are proud to work.