Is there a right way to make someone redundant?

Posted on August 7, 2020
By Catherine Heilemann

Did you see the article in the Sydney Morning Herald recently about the closure of various magazines ? Reportedly, everyone found out via a zoom session. Shock. Surprise. Grief. A whole bunch of emotions were reported, which got me thinking about the right way to make someone redundant. 

Redundancy is a highly emotive topic. HR and Executive teams have different approaches to the way they go about delivering the news. Staff members often feel ill prepared and cared for. In my experience this incredibly difficult conversation and the transformation can be handled carefully and respectfully, and while it still is bad news, there can be a right way to make someone redundant. 

1. Plan the way the change is going to be managed carefully. Be sure to take your time with this to make it is the best possible experience for everyone involved. 

2. Make it known the transformation is coming. Let people know what to expect in as much detail as you can.  

3. Be clear on why the change is happening. 

4. Keep the process short and to the point. 

5. Set people leaders up for success by briefing them carefully on why the change is occurring, what will happen, who is being affected, how they can support those people the best, what will happen next, what to say and what to provide. 

6. Position the change around the role and not the person. If the redundancy is about the person, don’t use it as the tool for dealing with the situation. Take different steps. 

7. Don’t rush the discussion. Let the person have some space to begin processing what is happening.  

8. The person or people are human – treat them that way. Be kind and empathic. 

9. Be sure to have all of the information at your fingertips. Include in it what will happen next, what is available to them in terms of career transition, let them know what their payout will be.  

10. Let the person know how career transition can help them. Provide examples of outcomes from other people. Don’t let outplacement be positioned as as ‘just’ an add on where they can do their Resume – position it as a way the organisation wants to support them. 

11. Ask them what they want and need at the time.  

12. Be sure to check-in with them several times once the news has been delivered to support them as best you can 

13. Highlight their contributions. Explain how they contributed to the success of the organisation and what that means. Go beyond listing to real explanation. 

14. Be sure to send communications out swiftly. It should not be a secret. Those being affected should not be expected to keep it as one for you. 

15. Receiving news that your job is no longer a part of the organisation going forward is really hard to hear and receive. The people being affected will grieve. Let them do that, and appreciate where they are at in the process. Remind them of any Employee Assistance Program available and how to get in touch. 

Is there a right way to make someone redundant?

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