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Reducing the impact of redundancy on remaining employees

View profile for David Westell
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Redundancies can be a tough and emotional process for everyone involved and that includes employees who remain working for your company.

‘Redundancy survivor syndrome’ can present significant challenges for employers. Employees may feel alienated from your business and struggle with low morale, motivation, commitment and a breakdown in trust. 


This may result in immediate problems for your business such as:

  • Difficulties retaining staff
  • An increase in sickness absence
  • Poor productivity and decision making
  • Reduced focus and decreased performance

We explore options below to deal with change management, supporting remaining employees and helping you to move your business forwards.

Increased communication 

Communication is key to improving your remaining employees’ morale and commitment to your business. You should be open and honest with them about the future of the business and their roles in it, encouraging them to voice their concerns and addressing them where possible. 


You should take time to revisit your business objectives and the obstacles you may face in the future. Find a way to communicate them to your employees, with a focus on the future rather than the past to help re-engage them with work and their role in helping to achieve those objectives.


Where possible, line managers should be encouraged to conduct one-to-one meetings with their team members to discuss the impact redundancies and changes to work has had on them and focus on agreeing targets for the future and reviewing progress going forwards. 


Alternatively, you may choose to run a number of change-management workshops to help employees understand the change process, the emotional impact and support available to them such as counselling or access to an employee assistance programme.


Improving staff retention

Employees may worry that there won’t be a position for them in the future and begin to look elsewhere, particularly if colleagues they worked with regularly are no longer in the business

  • Consulting ‘survivors’ about the implications of the redundancy programme for themselves and the work they do;
  • Provide them with practical support;
  • Involve them in change programmes;
  • Undertaking employee engagement exercises.

Improving sickness absence

Low morale and commitment along with a weakening of trust in management can contribute to changes of a more tangible nature, such as productivity and attendance at work. 

Attendance problems can be addressed using return-to-work interviews or referrals to occupational health advisors. However, these issues should be monitored closely and not be endured over time.


Re-building trust with employees and the management team

Unsurprisingly, there may be a breakdown of trust between employees and the business following a redundancy process, particularly if it hasn’t been managed well. 

Sometimes employers are either unable or unwilling to take measures to protect the psychological contract of trust during downsizing exercises.

Communication should be “authentic” in tone and content and its messages should be consistent across all management levels and business functions. It should involve every employee, ensuring that each person receives the initial announcement of redundancies and continues to receive information during the redundancy process. 

In addition, it is recommended:

  • increased visibility of senior management; and
  • providing training and coaching for managers in managing change effectively.


Improving decision making and productivity 

Employees may be less inclined to take risks, possibly because they feel insecure in their jobs as a result of experiencing job losses among colleagues. They may see risk-taking and decision-making as actions that could increase an employee’s profile and lead to unwanted attention.

Teamworking to encourage individuals to take risks and make decisions should be encouraged. Collective decision-making can reassure individuals because it spreads any blame and reduces the attention drawn to any one person.


Support you could offer redundancy survivors

  • an employee assistance programme;
  • consultation meetings with redundancy survivors;
  • one-to-one discussions between employees and their line managers;
  • briefing documents for managers, and Q&A documents for staff;
  • access to HR;
  • transition and change management for redundancy survivors; and
  • monthly post-implementation reviews of progress


For advice and support on redundancy survivors and change management assistance, call us now for a friendly chat about your needs.