How to Minimise Harm When Making Redundancies

22nd March 2024
 minute read

Table of contents


Redundancies can have a profound effect on the mental health and wellbeing of all employees. The impact of job loss extends beyond those directly affected, taking its toll on leaders, managers, HR teams and the employees who remain behind. 

This guide will explore the various ways that redundancies can impact wellbeing. It will also outline workplace policies, procedures and strategies that can reduce negative effects on mental health during a challenging time.

Who is affected by redundancies?

While redundancies directly affect those losing their jobs, they can also cast a shadow over the entire organisation. Increased workload, decreased morale and eroded trust are common consequences. 

Leaders, managers and HR teams who are tasked with delivering the news of redundancies can also face distress, as they have to navigate both the practical and emotional aftermath. That is why it is crucial to acknowledge the ripple effect of redundancies on all aspects of the workplace. Lumo’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr Kate Robinson goes into further depth on this in her HR Zone article on How to Support Mental Wellbeing During Redundancies

What are the mental health effects of redundancies?

For those facing job loss, the repercussions of redundancies can be profound. If the employee is working out a notice period, then the mental health effects can also seriously impact their job performance and relationships with colleagues. 

Issues can include:

  • Loss of identity: losing their job can lead to a person feeling disconnected from their sense of self, sense of purpose and sense of community. This can cause feelings of alienation and confusion.
  • Reduced self-esteem: redundancy can trigger feelings of guilt, shame, self-blame and embarrassment, accompanied by a significant drop in self-esteem. People may believe that the redundancy is somehow personal or performance-related, or see themselves as a ‘failure’ or ‘worthless’.
  • Depression: if self-esteem is impacted, redundancy can have a severe impact on mood and emotions, affecting an individual’s day-to-day functioning and their ability to search for new employment.
  • Stress and anxiety: redundancy can result in worry and stress about finding another job, as well as financial concerns and uncertainty about the future. These feelings of stress and anxiety can become pervasive and difficult to manage.

How to deliver redundancy news in a compassionate way

To safeguard the mental health of employees, it is essential to deliver redundancy news clearly and compassionately. Here are some best practice approaches that you can take:

  • Choose an appropriate setting: make sure that you minimise privacy when delivering redundancy news. If possible, aim to choose an enclosed space away from other employees, so that the individual can enter and leave the room in private. Choosing a quiet and separate space also means that the person can express themselves without fear of being overheard and that your conversation won’t be interrupted by noise distractions. Having the conversation at the end of the day when the workplace may be quieter can also help to maintain the person’s privacy and dignity. 
  • Be transparent: when delivering the news, it is important to provide clear reasons for the decision. Communicating openly about the factors that led to the redundancy can help the individual to understand the situation better. It can also help to prevent or reduce any natural feelings of shame, embarrassment, self-blame, confusion and betrayal.
  • Express gratitude: make sure to acknowledge the employee’s contribution to the organisation, as well their achievements, skills and personal qualities. Make it clear that the redundancy is not a reflection of their worth as a person. This can help to minimise the impact to their self-worth and self-esteem.
  • Practise active listening: compassionate listening skills are crucial during redundancy conversations. Encourage the employee to share any thoughts, concerns and feelings. Emotions such as anger, shock or grief may come up, so validate those with empathy and understanding. Where appropriate, repeat back any questions or comments to both demonstrate that you’re listening and ensure that you have fully understood. This may help the person feel valued, validated and heard.
  • Show commitment to employee wellbeing: offer any support resources that you have available. This can include severance packages, career counselling, CV advice and access to therapy via your workplace EAP
  • Offer ongoing support: make arrangements to check in with the employee for a follow up conversation, both during the notice period and after they leave the organisation. This shows your ongoing commitment to their wellbeing. 

Offer space and time: where possible, give the employee an opportunity to take time out to process the information and collect themselves. For instance, by suggesting that they take the rest of the day off, or offering the chance to switch to hybrid or home working for the notice period.

How to support your own wellbeing when delivering redundancy news

While redundancies are very difficult for the people losing their job, delivering the news can also take its toll on managers and HR professionals. So while the mental health focus is often on supporting the employees affected, it is crucial for you to prioritise your own wellbeing too. Recognising, addressing and processing your feelings about the redundancy process can also put you in a better position to support those being given the news. 

Feelings that can come up for managers and HR professionals can include guilt, sadness, embarrassment, fear, anxiety and stress. Additionally, if an employee expresses anger, then it can be difficult not to take this personally or even feel triggered by it.

That is why it is crucial for you to have a safe space to express your emotions, whether with a trusted colleague, a manager or by talking to a therapist via your workplace EAP. Aim to also prioritise your own self-care, which could include making sure that your workload is manageable, taking regular breaks during the day and setting boundaries around work (for instance, not checking emails after hours). 

By safeguarding your wellbeing when delivering redundancy news — and by safely processing any emotions that come up — you can better support affected employees with empathy, resilience and professionalism.

Redundancies can have a profound impact on the mental health and wellbeing of all employees. By fostering open communication, providing robust support systems and treating individuals with empathy and respect, organisations can navigate this difficult process with compassion and integrity. 

Lumo offers a range of evidence-based therapies that can support individuals being made redundant and other employees affected by the process. By offering access to safe and confidential therapy, you can maintain the wellbeing of your whole organisation during, what can often be, a painful and confusing time. 

How to Minimise Harm When Making Redundancies
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