How Leaders Engage Employees during and following a Redundancy Programme

How Leaders Engage Employees during and following a Redundancy Programme and the Effects of this on Employees

Redundancies are prevalent in today’s constantly changing work environment, in the public as well as the private sector due to the new coalition government and the current economic climate.

There has been relatively little attention paid to the effects of redundancy on those who remain in employment in Britain (Thornhill & Gibbons, 1995). To date research in this area has been concentrated in the USA, principally through the work of Brockner and his colleagues (Brockner et al, 1987, Brockner, 1988, Brockner & Greenberg, 1990). The research indicates that survivors1 reacted most negatively when they identified with those employees who were made redundant, who were perceived to have been inadequately compensated. The negative reaction took the form of reduced work performance in the laboratory study and lowered organisational commitment and engagement in the field study.

Organisations have under-estimated the negative effects of redundancy and do not take into account the difficulties of engaging a surviving workforce emotionally damaged by watching others lose their jobs. The key literature sources intended to be drawn upon are Wolfe (2004), Gifford (2010) and Macleod & Clarke (2009) whom suggest a number of ways leaders can build employee engagement e.g. ensure that survivors are aware of the assistance provided to terminated employees, attempt to reduce redundant tasks from survivors‟ workload and ensure the employee understands how their role fits in with organisational objectives and they are listened to, respected and valued.

Establishing an engaged workforce is now a high priority for many organisations. Employee engagement is associated with positive benefits in terms of improved organisational performance, patient care, morale, productivity, recruitment and retention (NHS Employers, 2008).

Very often organisations that make redundancies prepare well for those employees who are leaving, by, for example, providing outplacement facilities, career counselling, networking opportunities and early release schemes, but ignore those left behind.

For example, in a UK survey of 170 personnel specialists in 131 financial services companies, Doherty and Horsted (1995) concluded that organisations forced to make redundancies are neglecting the needs of employees who remain.


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