Supporting your employees through redundancy with outplacement

Confident African American woman candidate speaking at job interview

Redundancy is difficult for all the parties involved. For staff members, it means losing a job that they rely on for income and leaving behind work colleagues that have likely become friends. For you as the employer, it means losing loyal and quality members of staff, who you may not want to see leave.

But making redundancies isn’t about telling the employee and saying goodbye ‒ there are processes to be followed and support that needs to be in place during the redundancy process to ensure the situation is managed sympathetically and the potential impact on employees and the organisation is minimised.

How to support employees through redundancy

Below, we’ve covered just some of the ways you can support your employees through their redundancy.

Be clear on the reasons for redundancy

No business wants to voluntarily lose staff, and this is why redundancies are generally a last resort. It’s likely that you’ve explored every other avenue and put money-saving practices in place to avoid making redundancies. It may, therefore, be helpful to share this with the employee, explaining the actions that were taken and why you have had to make this decision. The more transparent you can be, the better, and if employees are clear on the reasons for redundancy, it can make the whole process a little bit easier.

Explain the redundancy process

Redundancy is a common reality for most businesses, but even if this is the case, your employees may not have been in this situation before. For this reason, it’s important to be clear on exactly what will happen, how the process works and a brief timeline of events. This will help to put them at ease during this time of uncertainty and shows that you’re on their side.

It may be a good idea at this point to share with them some useful resources and information. If you have any brochures on redundancy, you could hand these out, or send them to websites such as Acas’s redundancy hub. Should you intend to use an outplacement service, it can be useful to direct your employees to such support after the initial consultation. This could help them to process the news and discuss immediate concerns confidentially.

Consult with them properly

To avoid any accusations of unfair dismissal, it’s really important that you hold proper consultations with the employees who could be impacted by redundancy. But, you shouldn’t organise such consultations purely as a box-ticking exercise ‒ these meetings are usually a legal requirement and, even when they’re not, they’re deemed best practice and are strongly advised. The meeting should be genuine and involve helpful discussions with employees to discuss other cost-saving options and ways of avoiding redundancy if possible.

What is the redundancy consultation process?

Before you can start consultations, it’s important that you notify the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS). Where you’re planning to make more than 20 redundancies, notification must be provided within 30 days of the first redundancy. When you’re making more than 100 redundancies, this increases to 45 days. The same number of days also applies to the consultation period, and this is the minimum period of time before any employees can officially be dismissed. If you’re making fewer than 20 redundancies, there is no set process to follow, however, you should still consult employees and give them as much information as you can. This is the first stage of the consultation process.

The next step is to discuss what’s happening with relevant or involved members of staff. Enough information should be provided around time frames, reasons for redundancies and who will be impacted. Further information should be given when requested.

Offer support through the process

Support is necessary for those being made redundant, but also their colleagues who are staying. Redundancies have a big impact on a company as a whole, and so you should be communicating regularly with all members of the team and not just the ones most likely to be affected.

There are a number of ways in which you can offer such support. You could give regular updates in a company meeting, assist those being made redundant with updating their CV or put them in touch with network connections. If you don’t already have them, you could introduce one-to-ones with all staff and their managers so they can openly discuss their worries and concerns.

Be mindful of an employee’s personal situation

Everyone has a home and personal life that’s separate from their work life. You should be mindful of your employees’ personal situations, their mental wellbeing and how redundancy could affect both of these things. Where possible, you could offer private counselling support.

Consider outplacement services

Outplacement services during redundancy are crucial if you wish to demonstrate how you value your people, protect your brand and help maintain engagement (and retention) for those that aren’t impacted and staying behind. The latter can be done by showing current employees how those departing are being supported.

We do mention arranging one to ones with all staff, not just those made redundant. We have altered the middle sentence so it refers to ‘those being made redundant’ when updating CVs, meaning the other things apply to all staff members.

Outplacement and redundancy

Professional outplacement services focus on supporting the individual impacted by redundancy. A career coach can be specifically chosen for the employee that’s being made redundant, and they will work with them to develop a positive mindset, explore their options, help them to develop an effective job search plan, advise on future career ideas, and give expert advice in a range of areas.

Such support helps not just the affected employees, but also those who will remain in employment with you in the future. It demonstrates that you truly value your employees and are actively supporting them to transition their careers. For remaining employees, this can help to boost morale, improve or maintain engagement and lower attrition rate.

A career coach  will also help departing employees to prepare for the external job market, helping them to explore their options, as well as providing advice on how to create or update their CV, how to tailor a CV, what information to include, such as keywords for the online recruitment process – all with the aim of improving the employee’s chances of getting a job interview. The coach can also assist them with making connections on LinkedIn and practice interview techniques to help the individual find their next role much faster.

Provide additional training and upskilling

Not every member of staff will find a new job role quickly. As an employer, it may be a good idea to offer additional training and upskilling to those made redundant so that they can find a new role. You should consider their current role and what skills a recruiter may be looking for that they don’t currently have. This could be anything from first aid training or leadership coaching to e-learning or online courses that are relevant to their job.

Redundancies can be a tough time for all involved, but you can make the process as easy and slim-lined as possible to keep everyone positive during such uncertainty.