Redundancy lesson: how to lose staff and retain trust

Effective internal communication plays a vital role in the way companies
handle redundancies.

This was illustrated last week by the contrasting approach to staff cuts
taken by a telecoms company and a financial services firm.The way they dealt
with the redundancies not only sent strong messages to the people who left with
tales to tell about their erstwhile employers, but also to those remaining.

The telecoms company, which reduced from 1,450 to 1,200 staff, managed the
communication successfully from the outset. As industry conditions worsened
people were kept abreast of the impact on their organisation. And when the call
went out for voluntary redundancies, clear criteria were set and people were
swiftly told whether or not their applications had been accepted.

They left soon afterwards, happy with their pay-offs and feeling generally
favourably disposed towards the company. The remaining staff felt the
organisation had treated people with dignity and were proud to be continuing
their employment.

The financial services company, losing a much smaller proportion of people,
did it more quietly but created much greater disharmony. Those selected for
redundancy were escorted off the premises immediately after being informed and
their colleagues told at the same time. Long-serving staff felt bitter and
unvalued, whether it was them or their colleagues who left. The company’s
vaunted values were thought to have been flouted.

In times of redundancy, internal communication professionals need to make
sure they give a voice to those unspoken messages sent out to staff. By doing
this, like the telecoms firm’s internal communication manager, you will play a
key role in retaining staff confidence.

Jenny Davenport is the director of People in

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