“Redundancy Isn’t Personal. It’s Often the Product of a Company Merely Trying to Survive”

Sunday, 4 October, 2020

Writing about the challenges and emotional complexities of redundancy, our Wellbeing Co-ordinator Sam Wells didn’t have to go far to look for information.  Sam talks to her father Ron, who has experienced redundancy both as an employer having to deliver the news and as an employee receiving it.

In his personal account, he describes both scenarios as “very stressful and deeply upsetting experiences.”

Ron recalls how, as an employer, he faced the task of having to inform a colleague – one who he had recruited into the business – that he was to be made redundant.

Remembering feelings of great regret, he paced up and down a local park, turning the words over in his head, trying to find a way to make the experience less unpleasant for his colleague.

“Many employers don’t want to make people redundant, but in times of economic crisis, such as the one companies find themselves in now, some very difficult decisions are having to be made,” he said.

And later, as an employee being made redundant, Ron recalls feelings of anguish and bitter disappointment along with a degree of humiliation. He remembers feeling discarded and a deep loss of all status earned over many years. He felt severed from his place of work, with little or no opportunity for closure.

As well as support from his family, one thing that helped Ron through that difficult time was hearing the words ‘redundancy isn’t personal, don’t beat yourself up’.

Wellbeing Co-ordinator Sam Wells
Wellbeing Co-ordinator Sam Wells

Sam said: “While the emotional response for the employee may feel deeply personal, the act of redundancy itself is not. It’s often the product of a company merely trying to survive.

“The ability to separate the act of redundancy from its emotional response can be an empowering one both for employees and employers and a way for both to move forward.”

Furloughed workers across the UK have continued to receive 80% of their salary (up to £2,500) from the Government. But with the coronavirus job retention scheme due to end on October 31, many workers face the prospect of redundancy. This is despite the Government replacing this with a job support scheme.

“It is a challenging and emotionally charged situation for all involved, including employers, employees and those who remain in the workplace, and who face an ever-increasing workload,” said Sam.

“But it is possible to manage redundancy sensitively. By being transparent, communicating well with employees, supporting them and following legal requirements, this will help an employee in their effort to return to the workplace.”

She added: “It’s a while since dad was made redundant and although he still has a clear memory of the emotional response he felt at the time, he can now look back and see the opportunity it brought for inner resilience and the chance to re-appraise.

“It allowed him to identify strengths and transferable skills. For employers, it may mean the ability to become aware of previously unseen skills in remaining team members.

“But dad’s overriding message is to never give up hope.

“He went on to become a successful, self-employed public relations and marketing consultant. His experience of redundancy, as both an employer and an employee, certainly contributed to his overall journey.”