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Understanding and Supporting Staff When Making Redundancies

Taking the lead on redundancies is one of the most stressful roles you have as an HR professional, business owner or senior leader. No-one wants to be the bearer of bad news and it can be difficult to know how someone will react to the news that their job is at risk of redundancy, or how they will handle the redundancy process. This article will help you to understand how and why people may react differently, as well as giving you tips on how to support them.

Understand that people react differently to the news

It’s impossible to second guess how people will react to the news of being placed at risk of redundancy or being told they’re losing their job. Some may feel shocked, angry, or tearful. Others may be quite accepting. But some people can experience profound grief at the idea of leaving the company, especially if their career or role is a strong part of their identity.

The Kübler-Ross Change Curve is Trade Marked by the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Family Limited Partnership. It cannot be used for commercial purposes without prior written permission and licensing from the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Family Limited Partnership.

The Kübler-Ross change curve

You may be familiar with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s theory about the stages of grief, which teaches us that a person moves through different phases when faced with loss. Her model has been adopted by the business world when it was realised that what she had discovered can be applied to almost any situation when someone is faced with a big change. The Kubler-Ross Change Curve can be a helpful tool for both yourself and anyone else affected by the redundancy process, as it helps to explain and understand how staff facing redundancy may feel about and react to the news.

It’s also worth pointing out that people move through these stages at different rates. Some may skip certain phases altogether, so bear this in mind when working with staff, but don’t take it as gospel.

two women talking at a table

Communication is key

Over-communication is almost impossible. When it comes to managing redundancy, the more information you can provide, the better. All employees will be keen to hear the news as soon as there is any.

People naturally want to fully understand:

  • What the process is.
  • How and when they can access information or ask questions.
  • What is happening?
  • What their options are.

Communication shouldn’t just be a one-way street. Not only does it help the people at risk of redundancy, the fairer you are as a business, the less likely you are to have ‘survivor syndrome’ (employees who keep their jobs but who feel angry and resentful towards the organisation).

Provide employees with outplacement support

One way to treat employees fairly and to support them properly is to offer them outplacement support. The service helps employees who face redundancy to prepare and transition into a new job through practical advice, training materials, one-to-one coaching sessions, or workshops.

You can call on external career experts, like myself and my team, to deliver outplacement support.

For example, depending on your staff’s needs, I can offer:

  • 1:1 Career Coaching Sessions.
  • Career Clinics, where staff can discuss a particular career issue they’d like support with, including CV writing, job search and interview skills.
  • Career and Outplacement Workshops, on CV writing, LinkedIn, interview techniques, job searching, or workshops that are tailor-made to meet the topic of your choice.
  • 1:1 Executive Coaching Sessions for the leaders and managers in your organisation who need to deliver the redundancy news to your colleagues and may be facing redundancy themself.

To find out more about my Outplacement Services, click here  or get in touch to discuss how I might be able to help you.


Fay Wallis is a Career Coach and Executive Coach with a background in HR and Recruitment. She is the founder of Bright Sky Career Coaching, where she helps organisations with outplacement support and coaching.

Fay knows how tough working in HR can be when the organisation looks to you to take the lead on redundancies and restructures, or to grow and develop employees and support the senior leadership team. She’s created the HR Coffee Time newsletter, to share her free tips and resources on helping you navigate the challenges of your role and support the organisation you work for.  Sign up below to receive it every other week.