Downsizing – The Human Story

Downsizing – The Human Story

Have you been through a redundancy or early retirement process recently, either as ..

  • An employee leaving
  • An employee staying with the company
  • An HR person or leader managing the downsizing process
  • A union official supporting staff?

For some, redundancy or early retirement, is a welcome opportunity to pursue dreams or take a well-earned break. For others, it can be a diminishing experience, leaving them unprepared and ill equipped for their new lives.

In some companies, the process is handled very well, with sensitivity, consideration and foresight. In others, it can be cold, clinical and rushed.

In researching best practices for redundancy processes, I can find plenty of material to help companies cover themselves legally and reduce costs, but very little in the line of how to manage the human story here. I personally have been through a very well managed redundancy process. I left feeling appreciated and well looked after. But I am meeting many people who have not shared the same experience.

A downsizing or redundancy process affects everyone it touches, be it the people leaving, the people remaining behind, the leaders who have had to make the decisions – or at the very least, communicate the decisions and support the staff, the HR staff who have to implement the process and the trade unions who have to represent the staff. It can be stressful, harrowing, enraging, scary and confusing and yet if handled thoughtfully and sensitively, it can allow people to move through it, to have good endings and positive beginnings and feel appreciated and empowered.

I would like to start a conversation here that will, through the stories of real life experiences, allow us to paint a picture of the practices that will make the Human Story of Downsizing an uplifting one – that will be a guide to other organisations who are facing this challenge so that they can care for all their people well through the process.

If your experience of a redundancy or early retirement process was a positive one, please share it with us and tell us what were the key things about it that made the difference for you.

If your experience of a redundancy or early retirement process was a negative one, please tell us what hurt you and what were the most important things in your opinion that would have made a difference to you. What would you ask the company or organisation to do differently?

Let’s learn from all the experience we have recently had in this field and put it to some good use!


2 responses to “Downsizing – The Human Story

  1. I took voluntary redundancy from a middle management position after 31 years service with good financial and pension package.
    I had completed a BCL degree at night while working and part of Solicitors entry exams. I have opened a Solicitors Practice now.
    During the redundancy process I found that if you were not represented by a Union (which I was not) the Company did not negotiate with you and what applied to the Unionised personnel applied to you. In this case it was positive but to HR and senior Management I did not exist and had to get information regarding negotiations and the process from my unionised colleagues. It can be a lonely place.
    Finally, always have a second string to your bow in case the opportunity of a positive redundanct arises.

  2. Space For Change

    Thank you for sharing this Joe and congratulations on setting up your solicitor’s practice. I hope it is going very well for you. Your advice about having a second string to your bow is very wise and you, yourself, are an example of how redundancy can lead to very positive outcomes.
    The personal impact of HR and senior management not dealing directly with you is something for us to learn from so I am very grateful to you for sharing it. Regards, Miriam

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