How to help employees through redundancy

9 ways to help employees facing redundancy

You’ve considered alternatives to redundancy but have decided there is no other option. As an HR professional who cares about the people in your organisation, you want to support them but don’t necessarily have much time or budget to put things in place. Let’s take a look at some ways to help employees through redundancy that can have a hugely positive impact without being expensive or time consuming to implement. 

1. Lending a laptop

A simple way the business can help employees facing redundancy is by allowing them to keep their laptop (or borrow one) for as long as possible. Employees who are losing their jobs are often unsure where their next paycheque will come from and so reduce their spending to pay for items they deem more important; a laptop might not be on the top of that list. By having access to a laptop, they can communicate with recruiters, update their CV and write covering letters digitally, making their application process much easier. 

This issue has been highlighted to me when providing outplacement services (redundancy support for employees, focused on helping them get their new role). I’ve encountered employees trying to write their entire CV using their mobile phone, instead of a computer (because they don’t have one) and panicking about not having access to Microsoft Word. So, I know that providing access to a laptop can make a big difference and will be very appreciated. 

2. Giving financial clarity

Money is often one of the biggest worries for someone who is being made redundant. Making sure they are fully aware of what their last financial payment will be from the company is therefore really important. Having this information can help them understand what they are working with for the foreseeable future which (in some instances), can help to take off some of the pressure and ease the redundancy process.  

Useful financial information you can share in advance of their final date of employment includes:

  • What redundancy pay they are entitled to
  • Their last wages/salary
  • Any ‘pay in lieu’ if it’s agreed they won’t work their full notice
  • Any remaining holiday pay 
  • Outstanding bonus, commission or expenses they are entitled to

If the company uses an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) scheme, this may well include free access for employees to a financial advice/financial wellness service. So, it’s a good idea to ensure you share the EAP details and encourage everyone affected to access this support. 

3. Providing a reference

A simple way how to help employees facing redundancy feel supported is to provide them with a pre-written reference. In most instances, the employee in question will be going into further employment and will likely require a reference. 

By providing a pre-written reference on headed paper listing their name, job title, employment dates, the reason for leaving, along with a personalised few words from their manager on how it was to work with them, it will arm them with something they can easily present to future employees to show why they’re a good candidate for the role. It will also give the employee confidence in their skills and knowledge that it wasn’t their fault they needed to leave the business and that the business valued their skills.

4. Allowing time off for training or to search for a new job 

As a business, you must allow an employee being made redundant “a reasonable amount of time off during their notice period to look for another job or to undertake some training”. This applies if the employee has worked for you for two full years or more (including the notice period). Legally, employees are entitled to be paid at their normal hourly rate, but only for up to 40% for the time taken off. However, if the business can afford it, allowing employees to take this time off while still paying them their full salary is a gesture that can have a big impact.

5. Keeping their health insurance

If your employees receive health insurance as part of their employee benefits package, these health insurance policies are often paid for in advance for the year and it’s likely very rare that it would naturally end the same time that the employees leaving date is. By letting the policy naturally expire on the date it was set to, it gives the employee cover for a bit longer. As the premium is already set and the company already committed to paying it, there usually isn’t a financial gain to be had by ending it earlier. However, it is important to mention to the employee that it will still be seen as a taxable benefit by HMRC, so they will have to continue to pay tax for receiving it if they would like to keep it. 

6. Manager visibility 

During a time of turmoil, managers must be around, available and highly visible to the employees. Try to encourage the Senior Leadership Team to agree that managers can keep their diaries with a regular ‘free time’ slot where those employees being made redundant can have a conversation that’s transparent, open and honest. Often employees simply want to be listened to and want to vent their concerns, and by pre-allowing this time, it gives the managers time in their schedule to provide this easily, and the employee a set time to gather their questions and collate answers.

Please do note though that it’s crucial to ensure that managers have training and support from you and your HR team to know how to handle these conversations and to provide them with ongoing support. Often when redundancies are happening, it can be tough on managers who (like HR) see their own workload increase drastically (juggling their usual tasks, along with all the redundancy responsibilities). This is all happening whilst they’re having to nurture a demotivated/worried team that is unsure, upset or concerned about their future and the impact that the redundancies will have on them.

7. Signposting to helpful free resources

There are a wealth of helpful free resources you can signpost employees facing redundancy towards. Being given the links to these resources, can relieve the feelings of overwhelm, or worries about not knowing where to turn to for help that can flare up when someone is facing an uncertain future. If you have an EAP (Employee Assistance Scheme) available to employees, make sure you include this in your details of available resources as well. Some useful resources to signpost to include:

A key tip is to share these resources more than once. If people are shellshocked by the redundancy news, they won’t always take in everything you tell them. So, be prepared to repeat yourself and continually signpost to helpful resources.

8. Saying goodbye

The article, understanding and supporting staff when making redundancies, explains that the emotions experienced when facing redundancy can be similar to those when grieving. Providing people with a way to say goodbye to their colleagues that works for them can help them come to terms with the situation and move on emotionally.

If a lot of people are losing their jobs to redundancy and will be leaving the business at different points, it is a good idea to speak to them as a group. Ask them how they would like to say goodbye and what they would like to do to mark their final day with the organisation (that feels fair to everybody). Having these conversations well in advance can also help to avoid tricky situations. For example; you will probably want to avoid a situation where the first group of employees to leave are sent off with a leaving party, presents and cards; while the last people to leave find they don’t have any way of marking their final day because most of their colleagues have already left and nothing has been arranged for them. If one date for a ‘goodbye’ party/dinner/drinks is agreed on with everyone, securing a small budget towards this, ensuring ‘goodbye’ cards have been circulated amongst everyone to write messages of support in and inviting people to share some of their favourite stories and experiences of working together, are all simple ways of marking this ending in a positive way for everyone.

9. Going the extra mile

One of the most useful things you can do for anyone facing redundancy is to arrange for them to have outplacement support. If you haven’t encountered this before, it means bringing in an external company that has trained career experts to help your staff with the practical things they need to get their next role. This type of support is highly valued by employees, particularly those who have been with the same organisation for many years and haven’t had to look for a role for a long time. Typical outplacement services include:

  • CV guidance
  • Interview skills training
  • LinkedIn advice
  • Job search tips
  • Building confidence
  • Exploring career options

Outplacement is one of our key areas of expertise at Bright Sky Career Coaching. We have a range of services including online courses, group workshops and one-to-one career clinic sessions. All of our career coaches are highly trained but crucially, they are also compassionate and flexible. We all understand what a difficult transition redundancy can be and work hard to make sure you and your colleagues have the best support possible. If you’d like to explore arranging outplacement services, please do get in touch to have an initial chat about what could work best for you and your business.