The COVID-19 pandemic has presented tough times for businesses in every industry and many employers are having to make difficult decisions regarding the future of their workforce.

A recent study by Acas found that over a third of employers are likely to make redundancies before the end of 2020.

No employer enjoys making redundancies. They can be necessary to help struggling businesses but it’s important to remember who is most affected by this action – the employee.

So, what can you do to support staff in finding a new job and help to alleviate the stress that comes with being made redundant?

Be open and honest

Supporting your staff through redundancy begins before you make the decision to terminate any employees.

During this uncertain time, your workers are likely worried about what the future will hold for them. Especially if you have a furloughed workforce that are currently transitioning to the new Job Support Scheme.

Whether you are considering making redundancies or not, it’s important to have honest discussions with your team about company finances and the plan for the coming months.

Communicate available support

If redundancies become inevitable, you should hold a redundancy consultation to let employees know that there will be dismissals and lay out the process you will be following to decide on whose contract will be ended.

At this stage, you can also make services, such as an employee assistance programme (EAP), available to provide confidential and professional help with the emotional situation. These services will be available to any employee that is made redundant until they end their notice period.

If you already have an EAP available to employees, it is good practice to remind your staff how to access the support at this stage, whether they are facing redundancy or not.

There is no legal requirement to hold a consultation if you are making less than 19 redundancies in a 90-day period but it’s advisable to follow the process for any redundancies to provide clarity to all staff.

Provide personalised information on what redundancy means to them

In broad terms, everyone understands what redundancy means, but the financial reality of what it means to an individual employee can differ.

You can help to alleviate some of the stress of redundancy by walking the employee through their contract to explain their notice period, their entitlement to redundancy pay and any other money due to them, such as pay for unused annual leave.

Helping the individual understand their financial situation won’t completely remove the stress of facing job loss, but it will give workers complete clarity while they find a new role.

Offer to review CVs

Once decisions are finalised and the unfortunate individuals being made redundant have been notified, you can offer to support those people by reviewing their CV and helping to rewrite it based on their time working for you.

As a person who has hired the employee before, you will be uniquely positioned to review their CV based on what it was that made you invite them to interview.

Some employees may be averse to sharing their updated CV with you. If you are making a number of redundancies, it can be worthwhile working with an outplacement agency, a third-party who can provide this advice instead.

Advertise the employee’s skills to your network

As a more senior member of the team than the employee facing redundant, you likely have a more diverse network of other business leaders in the area. You will also be able to use that to help the individual find a new role.

You can do this by reaching out to individuals that you think would benefit from having the employee join their team or posting more broadly about the unfortunate situation on LinkedIn and detailing the specialities of that member of staff.

However, this piece of advice isn’t very achievable when you are having to make several redundancies at the same time.

Don’t forget those not directly affected

After making redundancies, team morale can be negatively affected and it’s common for businesses to see employees that survived the redundancies handing in their notice.

This is can be tied to the individuals that were made redundant, but in most cases is caused by the uncertainty of not knowing whether their will be more redundancies in the near future or how the current layoffs will impact their own workloads.

Make sure you keep the remaining team informed on the process after the first round of redundancies and be transparent about their own job security.

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