No doubt, we are going to hear about more redundancies over the coming weeks and months. My hope is that companies provide the individuals delivering those messages with the appropriate training and support before they are required to have those conversations. No companies want to make their workforce redundant. However, if there is no other option, then at the very least it needs to be handled with empathy and compassion in mind. Having to tell someone that they are going to lose their job is not easy. I have seen experienced managers freeze mid-conversation because of the psychological impact it can have.
If you are a manager being asked to have these conversations, then make sure you’ve got all the facts, that you’re well prepared (through roleplaying) and that you’re available to provide additional support to your team members after that initial conversation. You may not have a solution, but being there for those individuals will be important. Do not underestimate the effect this will have on you either. Be open and willing to speak to your own line manager, partner or friend about what you are going through.
If you are an employee facing uncertainty, start planning from now and getting yourself prepared. It will not be easy, and you will need to call on that inner resilience to help see you through this period. Consider the following:
- What transferable skills do you have that could be applied to industries that have not been hit as hard?
- Identify the gaps that you have in your skillset and try to plug these through self-learning or opportunities that develop your experience.
- Study and add new strings to your bow that will make you stand out – do not wait for something to happen.
To managers tasked with having these conversations, I urge you to engage in them with empathy and to be kind, as you might not realise what the other person is going through or feeling.
To employees who are impacted, find the courage to talk about how you’re feeling with close friends and family and ask for help if you need it. Start building a plan for yourself and focus on what is within your control.
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*Published 23 March 2021: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peoplenotinwork/unemployment