In redundancy situations, there is one group of people who are easily forgotten – the ones who
are left. These, you might think, are the lucky ones.
In many ways they are, because they have proved their ability and worth by being retained. However, for many employees, selection processes and consultation phases are stressful and surviving brings its own pressures:
• Their workload has just doubled and there are less people to assist/collaborate with.
• Targets have just got more difficult and there is no hiding from these.
• The great team they used to socialise and work well with now consists of them and 1 other person, whom they are not particularly close to.
• Maybe they actually wanted to leave too and volunteered but were not selected.
• Perhaps management did not cover themselves in glory by the way the redundancies were carried out and, as a
result, engagement with the organisation is low.
• Guilt. Why were they allowed to stay when their colleagues, many of whom had more extensive commitments out of work, were not?
• If these cuts were made, will their role be the next to go? Maybe, they should start looking around for something else.
There is no doubt that tough structural decisions need to be made when businesses are in trouble and activities often need to be re-focussed to win greater market share. There is also a need to ensure that statutory consultation requirements are carried out and proper selection decisions are made to protect the company from employment tribunal claims.
However, the future success of these hard decisions will be heavily dependent upon more than the effectiveness and the legal compliance of these processes. Perceived fairness and sensitivity to all employees, including those who will be left to sail the ship, is also key.
You cannot hope for employees being made redundant (unless they volunteer or are gaining an exceptional financial package) to be happy at the decision but how well you listen, consider, communicate and select will be remembered, not just by the outgoing employees, but by those who are left. Forget these employees at your peril!
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