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Redundancy survivors: the need to motivate “the fortunate ones”

Surviving a redundancy process can take its toll – and while it may seem counterintuitive – additional focus will likely need to be placed on those that managed to retain their roles.

While the outcomes can differ greatly, redundancy is a difficult experience for everyone involved, and if not managed carefully, negative feelings can be pronounced within the remaining team.

Sometimes forgotten in the haze of redundancies and difficult decisions, retained staff can be left anxious, stressed and confused after a period of redundancies.

What’s known in the industry as “redundancy survivor syndrome”, the term was coined to describe the emotional and psychological effects on employees who remain.

Often staff can be left with a myriad of unwanted emotions. They may feel unmotivated, guilty, worried about their futures, and even angry at seeing friends and colleagues lose their jobs.

These feelings will be even more prevalent during a global pandemic, where those made redundant will be entering a very difficult and different job seeking environment.

All of these negative emotions can seep into and impact the entire workforce, productivity and morale, creating a difficult situation for management.

Now is the time as employers and managers to invest time into motivating and caring for staff – during a period of redundancy and afterwards. One of the worst things a manager can do is ignore the issue.

Our three tips will help you communicate with, motivate, and look after your colleagues’ health and wellbeing – while fostering a focused, productive and positive workforce.

Communicate

It helps to be open and honest with employees when redundancies have taken place – they’ll appreciate honesty and acknowledgement of hard decisions taken and the resulting impact on the business and the people at the heart of it.

As a manager or director, your business will look and operate differently, so take time to account for that and give leeway (within reason) to an initial drop in productivity levels or billable hours as staff take time to adjust and come to terms with the changes.

This is a good time to communicate within your senior management team and take stock of your business plan and objectives. Set aside time to assess where your business is and where you want it to be in five years, with a fresh focus on the future.

Involve

When you’ve set out a new business plan, take time to involve your employees and ensure they have a platform to voice opinions and concerns.

Dedicating time to speaking individually with employees will help you and them assess the results of redundancies – different workloads, pressures, a new team or management structure. Discussing and agreeing new targets and progression plans will also go a long way to involving your employees.

Investing this time will be invaluable in creating a united team who all feel they can contribute to the business – while also hopefully reducing uncertainty and anxiety.

Recognise

Recognise the impact redundancies has on your team. There’s no point in skirting around it or ignoring it, this will impact your team’s spirit and productivity and should be acknowledged.

This is the time for managers to check in with their teams and support their health and wellbeing. Could you offer one to one meetings or encourage employees to speak with HR? Now could also be a good time to support general wellbeing by checking in through short non-work related calls or meetings.

Our recent blog for Mental Health Day delved into the role your company culture plays in employee health and wellbeing, and how it can even impact on future hiring opportunities. When people are more productive, happier and enjoy their work more, they tend to suffer fewer absences, and less stress and wellbeing related issues.

When employees come together as a team during a difficult period, that positive culture can lead to better social interaction between employees and employers, leading to increased productivity and innovation.

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