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Redundancy – Looking After The Survivors

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Have you thought about the people left in the workplace after a redundancy programme – the “survivors”?

Initially, of course, they are likely to feel a sense of relief – they still have paid employment.

But the feelings which follow may cause them some sleepless nights or worse.  They may be feeling fear about when the axe might fall again and will they be selected next time.  This is a time when they might start to look for another job to regain some security.

Will the Company be able to turn around and become successful again?  The pressure for the survivors to perform well is very great – even if only self-imposed.  You may see increased sickness absence or stress related issues.

They might be feeling anxiety about potential reorganisation.  Often people struggle with change and this one has been “forced” upon them.  Will there be extra work for them, now there are fewer people left to do it?   They might well miss colleagues who have moved on – especially if they worked closely together. 

There will be myriad other feelings and reactions and, as a manager, you won’t know what they are unless you talk to the “survivors” and find out. This time, above any other, they need a friendly ear, support, understanding, reassurance.  The way you look after the survivors may well make the difference for the business between surviving and thriving in the future.

How can you engage and retain the survivors?

There are various things you can consider which might help to keep the loyalty of your survivors and turn your business back to growth and productivity.

Now is a good time to run an employee engagement survey to “temperature-test” the workforce.   If you run it again after a few months you will be able to measure the improvement achieved by the measures you put in place now.

Firstly, look at how you can improve workforce communications.  Is there a process for your employees to have a voice and give their opinions, suggestions and feedback? If you have such a process in place, is it working?  Are there any barriers or blocked channels?

Once you have the results of your employee engagement survey, you can set in place some plans to improve engagement.  This could include things like rewarding innovations coming from employees; celebrating successes; improving flexibility  of roles, skills, locations, etc; upskilling and developing managers; monitoring absence and understanding the reasons for absences; digital initiatives; maybe putting in place a long-term retention bonus, particularly for critical roles.

When you focus on making working life better for your survivors and new employees, you will begin to see results in terms of productivity; growth, profit and business positioning.  You may find you become an employer of choice and your recruitment and retention plans become easier to fulfil.

In many ways, looking after the survivors is the most critical part of any redundancy process.

If you are interested in articles about redundancy, why not check out some earlier blog posts I have written (see links below)?  Or you might want to buy my book “Redundancy with love” https://www.heartfelthr.com/book-redundancy-with-love/

Alternatives to redundancy: https://www.heartfelthr.com/cost-cutting-is-redundancy-the-only-option/

The obvious and intangible costs involved in a redundancy programme: https://www.heartfelthr.com/__the_true_costs_of_redundancy/

Reactions to expect from your employees when you consult with them about redundancy: https://www.heartfelthr.com/reactions-to-redundancy-do-managers-know-what-to-expect/

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Jill Aburrow - HR Consultant

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