Managing redundancy: What employees want
Redundancy isn’t easy, and the way it’s handled can leave a lasting impression on employees.

It can be hard to know how best to manage the process, especially for businesses that don’t have redundancies that often.

Of course, there are legal requirements that need to be followed. But beyond that there is plenty of scope for employers to manage the process well, with clear communication and practical support.

Here’s what employees want during the redundancy process, and tips to help you make it a smoother, less stressful process for everyone.

What employees think about redundancy

First, let’s look at how employees feel after being made redundant. And that includes lots of us: research for SEEK reveals almost 2 out of 5 Australians (38%) have been made redundant at some point in their working lives.

Among employees who have been made redundant, there’s some clear feedback about how they felt.

“A lot of employees who have been made redundant come to us saying they wish they’d received more support from their former employer,” says Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of recruiting experts Hays in Australia & New Zealand.

According to global talent development and transition company Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH), most employees have a negative reaction to redundancy, including feeling worried, shocked and angry.

Employees’ main concerns are often uncertainty about the future, and a lack of communication from their employer, says James Mcilvena, Managing Director of LHH South APAC.

He says often employees don’t feel engaged through the process, and few feel positively towards their employer.

“There is often a vacuum of information during restructure and change initiatives,” Mcilvena says. “More can and should be done by organisations to keep employees engaged throughout a redundancy process.”

A poorly handled redundancy process can have a real and lasting impact on people, and on the business too – it can even cause damage to an organisation’s brand or reputation, Mcilvena says.

Redundancy is upsetting for those who remain, too

Redundancies can be unnerving and upsetting for staff who stay with the organisation, too, especially if there are several at the same time. So it’s worth thinking about how redundancy will impact the staff that remain in terms of morale, job security and performance. 

“Employees at all levels – not just those directly impacted – will need support,” Mcilvena says.

“Those remaining are often key to the overall success of the changes and the future stability and growth of the organisation.”

Employees want communication and practical help

Research for SEEK shows of those employees who have been made redundant, 30% say they didn’t receive any support.

Among all respondents, these were the top five things they wish they’d received:

  • Links to an external job opportunity (40%)
  • Free career advice session with a career consultant (18%)
  • An internal job offer (18%)
  • An additional payment on top of the legally required amount (17%)
  • Training and workshops to be job-ready (17%)

All those can be condensed into one category: guidance, Mcilvena says.

“As employees are made redundant and deal with uncertainty, tailored career guidance is of most value.”

Employees may also underestimate how difficult it is to find a new role quickly, which can be very different to job hunting while they’re employed, he says.

“Leaders should prioritise planning, clear communication and coaching to help support their people.”

How to support employees through redundancy

There are several practical ways that an employer can help an employee, Deligiannis says, such as:

  • Help updating their resume
  • Tailored career advice
  • Practical advice on finding suitable positions
  • Being linked to a recruiting expert
  • Help preparing for job interviews
  • A session with a career consultant

That practical help is the most beneficial in helping someone become job search ready, he says.

“A lot of people tell us that a redundancy knocks their confidence. Providing one or more sessions with a career consultant can help people regain their confidence and enter the job market in a more positive frame of mind.”

Hays runs an outplacement service for employers, designed to help employees through their career transition.

At LHH, their active placement service gives transitioning employees one-on-one career guidance with a dedicated coach, resume and interview support, access to career development resources and networking, and connection to more job opportunities.

Some organisations may also find that providing employees counselling sessions is another useful way to support them through redundancy.

Remember, redundancy comes with an emotional cost for employees who are leaving as well as those who stay. Clear communication with all staff – as well as practical support – will make a positive difference to their feelings about the company. Ultimately, looking after your employees throughout the process will benefit them and the stability of your business.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4800 Australians annually. Published July 2021.