Simon was 21 years old when he met his girlfriend, and their relationship quickly became serious; the pair had moved in together in a matter of weeks. Eighteen months later, Simon lost his life to this same girl, who his family and work later discovered had been abusing him physically, emotionally, and financially for the entire duration of their relationship. Yet, due to the attached stigma of a man being abused by a woman, Simon did not seek help – and because many external bodies, such as his workplace, have only been trained to spot signs of domestic abuse in women, no one was able to direct Simon to the help he needed.

Simon’s workplace, like all companies, have a responsibility to offer support and guidance when they are led to believe or made aware of a member of staff who is experiencing domestic abuse. Whether it be physical, psychological or a mix of both, managers should be trained on how to respond to these appropriately.

However, many organizations are failing to address the intersectionality of domestic abuse through their support strategies.

For one thing, lockdown brought with it a significant spike in domestic violence reports, with MSI Reproductive Choices finding a 33% increase. Refuge also released new figures which found that calls to their domestic abuse helpline had increased during lockdown by 61%. Despite leaving the pandemic behind, the hybrid and remote working models are more popular than ever, and so the increased proximity risk for domestic abuse to occur is still very much present.

Singal For Help

Employers must begin to look at ways of updating their support strategies to keep up with these changing working environments. One way that businesses can start to do this is by training staff to be aware of a Violence at Home Signal for Help. This would be teaching a covert hand signal that can be made over a video call to make their colleagues aware that they are in danger but are unable to verbally say so.

But this is only the first step. Companies need to start shifting their perception of domestic abuse as being something that only affects heterosexual women. Most strategies will be tailored to the experiences of straight women, as this is the group of people who statistically suffer the most. But a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach can mean employers fail to recognise and respond to those who fall into different groups.

According to the Crime Survey of England and Wales, 27.6% of women have experienced domestic abuse behaviors compared with 13.8% of men. However, many men do not report domestic abuse due to perceived embarrassment and the reluctance to even admit to themselves that they are victims. As a result, the number of men suffering could be much higher.

Similarly, the experiences of people from the LGBTQ+ community will vary significantly from those of straight men and women with around 25% of LGBTQ+ people suffering violent or threatening relationships.

For those in queer relationships, there are a number of unique attributes in the way they are abused. For example, some people are threatened with having their sexual orientation ‘outed’ to people who they have not shared it with. As well as this, many queer people will believe their sexuality or gender identity is the reason why they are being abused, which fuels feelings of internalised homo/bi/transphobia.

Employers must continue to educate themselves around the diversity of domestic abuse. Knowing how it can affect different people, as well as being able to recognise the varying signs, will allow the company to be able to support their employees promptly, and avoid tragic cases like Simon’s.

Those suffering can have noticeable issues in performance, as well as higher absenteeism, which eventually leads to reduced productivity and lower output. And just because domestic abuse is something that happens in the home, does not mean it won’t follow people into the office – up to 75% of employed victims are harassed by their abusers while at work, through repeated calls and texts and visits to the workplace.

Businesses that begin updating their strategies will be able to help those that are suffering, as well as mitigate the effects that domestic violence can have on work performance. Fostering a culture of openness will make it easier for staff to approach leaders with these issues. And when approached, it is important to avoid gendered language when asking questions – substitute ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ for ‘your partner’ – so to avoid making someone potentially uncomfortable.

Organizations should also be able to direct men and LGBTQ+ people to appropriate helplines. Men’s Advice Line is dedicated to helping male victims, while GALOP  provides a national LGBTQ+ domestic abuse helpline.

If you need guidance on how to develop your domestic abuse strategies, please get in touch with me at therese@orgshakers.com

In June Carers Week 2022 published a report highlighting the challenges facing working carers in the UK.

To discuss the implications for employers, I brought together Vivek Patni, CEO of care service access provider WeMa, and Max Lintott, UK General Manager of financial wellbeing platform Wagestream.

Both WeMa and Wagestream are actively engaged in helping working carers cope with the burden of caring for sick or elderly relatives, and their perspective on the report’s findings were enlightening and provocative!

Here is a brief extract from our conversation:

Therese

One statistic that stood out to me in the Carers Week report is that workers on lower incomes are disproportionately impacted by the need to provide unpaid care for a loved one – 34% of carers with an annual household income of £20,000 or less are caring for over 20 hours a week, compared to 24% of carers from higher income households.

For me that cuts right to the heart of why employers need to help their people on lower incomes access services and manage their day-to-day finances.

Because you're more likely to face mental health issues due to your inability to be able to get the help you need, or to speak up about the problems you’re facing, because of the fear of losing your job, or whatever it might be.

Vivek

I think there are two angles to this.

Firstly, the number of people now caring for their family has significantly increased; there were 4.5 million additional informal carers in the UK in the 6 months from the start of Covid back in early 2020 (2.6 million of these were working carers). Did you know, by 2025 there will be more adults of working age with adult dependents compared with child dependents?

As well has having little knowledge of how to care, finding time to do so around work, and not being paid for the care they deliver, two-thirds of these carers are in fact using their own income and savings to cover the cost of care for their loved ones, 40% of which are struggling to make ends meet. It's these people that we're really trying to support with the WeMa service, because they're struggling massively.

Secondly, there’s the shortage of professional care workers – and the challenge you've got there is that it’s a very low paid job. This is one of the biggest factors as to getting more people coming into those jobs, but it’s also a very difficult, demanding job which must be respected much more than it currently is. The lack of professional carers puts more pressure back on the informal carer.

To build on what you were saying about the impact on these people, Therese, other research has shown that 54% of carers suffer from negatively impacted financial wellbeing, 70% suffer with mental ill health, and 60% struggle with physical ill health due to the burden of delivering that care.

Max

Add to that the fact that the Carers Week report says that more than 10.5 million adults in the UK are now acting as unpaid carers. I mean, there are only 12 million frontline workers in the UK and there are only around 30 million employees in all, so around a third of the total workforce are impacted by this.

And the burden will often fall on lower-income households which aren't given access to affordable private healthcare to help.

Vivek

I think that’s why this conversation is really timely. If you look at the social care market, everyone's trying to figure out how are people going to fund their care moving forward, because they'll definitely be a very limited amount of money going into it through the state.

The cost per hour of privately funded homecare can range anything from £19 to £30 per hour - the average is estimated to be £21.50. So, based on 2 hours a day, 5 days a week of care required for an individual who's got, say, early-stage dementia, that's about £13,500 a year.

So, the question is what kind of support can we put in place around access to care services and the finances to pay for that care?

Therese

We also have to remember that some of that support is short term. If an elderly relative has just come out of hospital I don't need six weeks off, but I desperately need two or three days.

So, I think the thing that employees want more than anything, is some flexibility. And what you're both giving in different ways is a new flexibility for people to be able to shape and live their lives.

Vivek, your WeMa service is helping working carers to connect quickly and simply with healthcare providers in the community, removing the massive stress and distraction of accessing the services their loved ones need.

And Max, Wagestream, for example, might be helping someone in a situation where they’ve just had to fork out £50 or £60 on some stuff from Amazon that's going to help an elderly person coming out of hospital live their life a bit easier. When you're on £20,000 or less, you're a frontline worker, and you’ve budgeted every single penny, and you've got all the utilities going up, how can you afford this stuff that then comes on top? Being able to access the wages you’ve already earned can be a lifesaver in that kind of situation.

Max

I’d like to add to that too. We’re now finalizing an income protection insurance to cover people on zero-hours contracts for sick leave.

On a zero-hours contract if you don’t do any hours you don't get any money, right? So, there's a very innovative insurance company we're working with to underwrite it so that you can insure yourself very cheaply – it's hopefully going to be something like £2.00-3.00 a month to insure yourself for a set number of weeks’ pay if you get sick.

We’re still ironing out the details but could imagine a very similar product to insure against time off for care.

Vivek

I think the bottom line here is that there's no money from state to support working carers – and there's going to be limited funding for social care going forward.

So, it's going to come down to employers giving their people the support they need to deal with it in their own way. I wonder what incentives the government could give to businesses to stimulate business-backed support?

Therese

And I think the more we can get that into the mindset of the CEOs and the board – the people that are making decisions around the table – the better, because this has got to go faster up the agenda.

It shouldn't be this difficult for working carers!

********

If you’d like to find out more about any of the issues we were discussing, please contact me: therese@orgshakers.com.

A YouGov survey of 1,025 HR decision makers working across UK businesses has found that almost three quarters (72%) of businesses do not have a menopause policy.

This is despite it being widely accepted that the effects of the menopause can be debilitating for a woman’s physical and psychological wellbeing.

Symptoms such as joint pain, hot flushes, memory loss, fatigue, and anxiety can have a huge impact on a women’s confidence and workplace performance.

Indeed, a recent survey published by renowned GP and menopause specialist Dr Louise Newson found that 99% of respondents said their perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms had led to a negative impact on their careers, with more than a third calling the impact ‘significant’.

Almost 20% were off more than eight weeks and half of this group resigned or took early retirement.

Key findings from the YouGov survey include:

  • Almost three quarters (72%) of businesses do not have a menopause policy.
  • Over a quarter (27%) of large businesses (250 employees or more) say they have a menopause policy but only 10% of small firms (0-50 employees) do.
  • Even within organisations where the workforce is more than 50% women, the same low level of organisations (13%) have no menopause policy.
  • Only 16% of businesses train their line managers about the menopause. 94% of organisations in hospitality & leisure surveyed say they provide no training in this area.
  • Almost half (44%) of all the businesses that say they do not train their staff about the menopause admit to not having thought about it. 15% don’t consider it a priority whilst 7% claim that sensitivities and embarrassment about the issue hold them back.
  • Only half of organisations questioned (50%) say they are confident that women in their organisation are feel able to talk about the menopause. Almost 1/3 (31%) say they are not confident and 1 in 5 say they’re don’t know.
  • Within organisations where the proportion of women was the highest, the confidence levels amongst HR teams that employees are able to talk to their employer was the lowest (57%).
  • Only 18% of organisations say they provide information about the menopause to their employees with 13% offering internal support groups.
  • Almost 2/3 (64%) of businesses say they do not consider menopause during performance reviews for female staff. This is even higher in some sectors including manufacturing (76%), hospitality & leisure (75%), media, marketing & advertising (67%).

The YouGov survey was commissioned by employment law specialists at Irwin Mitchell. The total sample size was 1,025 HR decision makers and fieldwork was undertaken between 10th - 28th February 2022. The survey was carried out online.

The UK government were calling it ‘Freedom Day’ – the day when all Covid-19 restrictions would be lifted after two long years.

To be honest, even though Thursday 24th February was also my birthday, it felt the furthest thing from a Freedom Day that I had ever experienced in my HR  career. As one newspaper headline summed it up: ‘The sun is shining, but we’re keeping our umbrella’.

That morning I had taken a call from a HR director who was talking about the pressures her colleagues were facing. Change and uncertainty were causing stress-related absence to spike like never before and, for the first time, her Board had asked about employee financial poverty.

She wasn’t alone – it was the third call I’d had in a week where financial impact was the number one topic of concern.

For years financial poverty has been a ‘dirty little secret’ in many boardrooms – known about, but never really aired in public.

The CIPD recently published data in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that 1 in 8 UK workers are in financial poverty. While research by financial wellbeing platform Wagestream has shown that 75% of the UK workforce have volatile and unpredictable pay, 50% run out of money before payday, 39% are not comfortable managing money, and 11.5 million have less that £100 in savings.

When financial issues are experienced, there is a direct link to mental and physical wellbeing with an impact on absence. If employees are worrying about money or covering up concerns this can also lead to a negative performance of up to 30% in productivity.

In short, the moral case and business case for acting on financial poverty is compelling.

What can I do to understand what’s going on for my Employees?

Over the past two-years’ the world has experienced a profound economic and social shock that has affected businesses and individuals alike. And the war in Ukraine is adding to heightened emotions of fear and distress as well as accelerating an increase in the cost of living – all of which are being highlighted in news, on social media and in every conversation, by the hour!

Now more than ever, it is critical to scrutinise whatever insights and data you have within your organisations thoroughly, to work out who is worst affected. Use the data determine how the trends are changing or have changed and get a plan of action in place to support your colleagues. Where data is light, or insights are not easily accessible, look internally and externally for support, advise and solutions.

Being aware of employee financial poverty it is no longer good enough. You need to demonstrate that you understand workplace poverty and engage in a conversation across the business about what is driving it and how it feels to be in financial difficulty. Only then can you start to put meaningful solutions and practices in place to help.

In my experience, the core to financial freedom begins with education on money health. It’s a topic that I was never taught at my school or in business. But increasingly it is coming onto the agenda of wellbeing, and rightly so. It’s never too late to start educating – and your employees will welcome your support.

Many HRDs and organisations are looking at external solutions to support their efforts on this topic. There are some really great technology-based solutions available which can help give employees ‘power over pay’.

I’m engaging more and more on this topic happy to share my knowledge and insights about the impact it has on wellbeing and inclusion as well as wider People Strategies.

It’s a conversation that is not going away, and it will require a dedicated focus if you are to retain your talent, maximise , workforce productivity, and demonstrate your understanding of what is , going on in everyone’s lives right now.

As I write this, I’m few days older, perhaps a little wiser, and the sun is streaming through my window. But I am acutely aware of the need for umbrella!

In this episode of the HR Leaders podcast, Chris Rainey is joined by Therese Procter of OrgShakers and Vivek Patni, CEO and Co-Founder WeMa.

With one-third of the workforce now over the age of 50, their focus for discusion is how organizations can optimize this often overlooked pool of talent.

Midlife is a pivotal period in our life journey. It can suck – or rock!

Neither well defined nor well understood, Midlife is described simply as ‘the time between youth and old age’.  A time which is often associated with stress and crisis – especially for women.

I can relate to this, but there are many positives to celebrate in Midlife too, including higher earnings, status at work, leadership in the family, authority in decision-making, self-confidence, and contribution to the community.

The reality is that these negative and positive aspects of Midlife are not exclusive to women – these are things we will all experience.

50 is the new 30

Employers are slowly starting to take more interest in Midlife workers … and they should, because for the first time in history, over 1/3rd of the working population are over 50!

On reflection I realise that for many years the HR community (me included!) put our energy, focus and effort on progressive processes and practices that were supporting the needs of the younger working generation. Many of these innovations were ground-breaking – especially around maternity/paternity, IVF, adoption, childcare, etc. – and we should be proud of what we achieved.

However, the ageing workforce means that we now have to widen our focus to meet the wellbeing and mental health needs of those in Midlife and to consider how they can help them to live their best life while performing their job.

I suggest there are three issues we need to prioritise:

  1.  Biological Changes – Menopause and Andropause
    The tide is turning with conversations at work about Menopause.
    Rightly so, as there are 34 symptoms associated with this time in women’s lives – with some individuals suffering for up to 15 years.
    However, less understood and rarely talked about is the fact that men can experience 17 of these 34 symptoms – the Andropause.
    None of the Midlife men I speak to about the Andropause has heard of it. But all of them recognise that they have experienced the symptoms.
    And the number one silent condition in both women and men linked to the biological changes we go through in Midlife is probably the least well known – a loss of bone density.
    Osteoporosis typically strikes in older age but starts with the Menopause and Andropause.
  2. Cancer – Breast Cancer/ Testicular Cancer
    One in four of us will get cancer.
    Breast cancer is the biggest cancer in women and testicular cancer in men.
    New cases of cancer are 50% higher amongst over 50’s.
  3. Mental Health – ‘Brain Fog’ and Memory Loss
    A symptom of both Menopause and Andropause is ‘brain fog’ and memory loss.
    It’s a scary feeling, and people often mistakenly fear that it’s the onset of dementia.
    However, the evidence shows that these symptoms pass over time and that cognitive ability is not affected – we remain as sharp as we were.

In most cases if these issues are identified early, they can be treated positively and permanently.

So, is your organization encouraging Midlife colleagues to be aware of these issues and encouraging them to get regular health checks? And are they being given time to get appointments booked and time off to support these issues?

I’m in the camp that wants to Rock my mid life and get up every day and perform at my best.

So, I recently started taking HRT – not because I had any menopausal symptoms, but because my mum has osteoporosis. I have also had a blood tests and bone scans.

My parents are my role models, they exercise every day and have done since I can remember, and they are 83!

Tp And Parents

Diet and exercise are important. And so is being aware of what is going on in our bodies.

So, my call to arms is for all of us in Midlife to take control of ensuring that we can live our best lives – and for organizations to provide the encouragement, environment, and policies that support their employees throughout their working lives.

For more information, training, policy reviews or insight on how your business can navigate this important topic and “shake” things up, please contact therese@orgshakers.com.

Life expectancy is increasing, and by 2040 this is projected to rise to the age of 85.

That’s great news for me personally as I am now in my 50’s, but as an HR professional I’m also thinking about what these projections mean in the workplace – and what I should be focussing on for the future to benefit employees and to drive business performance.

The ageing population means that there are more midlife workers than ever before.

The employment rate for 50- to 64-year-olds in the UK has risen from 56% 30-years ago to 73% today – and it’s still rising.

We know that knowledge, skills, and experience are at their peak in midlife. And for employers to optimise these, they need to better understand and answer the needs of midlife workers.

Working Carers. Working age people will soon have more adult dependants than child dependants, with 1 in 6 of the workforce currently balancing their ‘day job’ with adult care responsibilities.

The pressures created by this balancing act can be enormous, with many being forced to take a career break.

Midlife workers the most likely to fall into this category, and the pandemic has had a massive impact on them with 81% saying caring responsibilities have grown due to Covid-19 and 74% feeling exhausted because of the increased stress.

Menopause and andropause are a biological fact of life and many organisations are starting to implement policies and workplace principles to support their employees through these changes.

More remains needs to be done, however, to educate managers and those without experience of midlife issues.

Career opportunities. Perversely, career and personal development opportunities for midlife workers slow down at precisely the moment they have the most to offer.

Some organisations offer a ‘returnship’ programs for individuals who have had to take a midlife career break, but these are currently very inconsistent with varied success.

There is also disparity in gender pay – especially if a person has been out of the workplace for some time and then returning.

As a proud midlife HR practitioner my aim is to shine a light for employers on the issues people face at midlife and to provide education, policies, training, seminars, and guidelines to ensure organizations can maximise the performance of an age diverse workforce.

I’m also very privileged to work with companies who are developing products to support businesses with these issues and, in doing so, help us all to live our best life, for the rest of our life.

Phil Mickelson stunned the golf world on Sunday when he finished off his win in the PGA Championship to become, at 50, the oldest golfer ever to win a major championship.

He finished the event shooting six under par. After his win, praise flooded in from across not just the golf community, but from other star athletes and celebrities across the world. His performance was truly inspiring.

What came after, was not so much an explanation of how Mickelson reached the finest achievement of his career, but insistence of how he never believed his time on golf's frontline was over.

Mickelson admitted it is very possible that this is the last tournament I ever win. It's also very possible that  I may have had a little bit of a breakthrough in some of my focus and maybe I’ll go on a little bit of a run.  But the point is, there's no reason why I or anybody else can't do it at a later age … it just takes a little bit more work."

This immediately made me think of my father Michael.

At 83 years young, his passion for golf is a strong today as it was at the age of 7 when the Christian Brother monks would give him time off school from so he could caddy for American visitors at the course near his home in Lehinch, Co. Clare in Ireland. He received golf balls as payment and split the proceeds with the monks.

Last year, he won the senior singles competition at his club against a 55-year-old opponent.
He’d previously won the same title in 1996 – but he wasn’t going to let 24 years, two hip replacements, a knee replacement, and COPD get in his way!

Like Phil Mickelson, he believes that there’s no reason why you can’t keep going – and that one day, when the wind is on your back and the sun on your face … you might just get a win!

My dad really inspires me never to give up and to  keep on learning.  It’s a lesson I’ve taken from him and one I’ve passed to my two daughters and the countless leaders I’ve had the privilege to coach.

My colleague Pamela Kingsland at Orgshakers also talks and writes about how we can keep developing and learning all through our lives and age should never be a barrier.

As a woman who is now mid-life, I’m so encouraged by that.
And both Phil and my Dad are testament to the fact that for all the mid-lifers (and even those who’ve entered later-life) … now is our time!

As I  was writing this, a poem I had read some time ago came into my head: ‘Don’t Let Anyone Mess With Your Swing’.

It wasn’t written for golf, but it could have been. It was written about a Boston baseball player called Ted Williams, and this verse is my favourite:

Enjoy your talents. Have your fling.
The seasons change. The years advance.
Watch the ball and do your thing.
And don't let anybody mess with your swing.

Tp Dad Golf

Most of us will have experienced the impact of redundancy at some point in our lives – if not directly, then through a friend or family member. It is one of the most intensely stressful events that an individual will ever experience, ranking closely with divorce, serious illness, and the death of a close relative – and knowing this makes having to deliver the news of redundancy one of the most difficult challenges facing any manager or team leader.

The disastrous impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on previously thriving organisations around the world, means that managers now find themselves having to lay-off loyal, highly capable employees: a situation which would have been unthinkable just a few months ago.

Not only that, but social distancing in face-to-face meetings and remote working serve to make delivering a difficult redundancy message even more challenging and upsetting for both the manager and the employee.

So, in this article I will offer my advice on how managers should prepare themselves for redundancy meetings and share videos of my own online meeting rehearsals with a colleague where we address three of the most common employee reactions: withdrawal, anger, and pragmatism.

Redundancy conversations are never easy, and I know highly experienced managers who have sleepless nights worrying about how they are going to break the news to their people. Some try to bottle up their emotions to the point where they can appear somewhat cold and callous. Others try to distance themselves from the decision to make redundancies – “if it was down to me we wouldn’t be letting people go”.

None of this is helpful to the individuals who are at risk of losing their jobs.

In my experience, the best approach for one-on-one redundancy meetings is to deliver the message briefly, simply, and consistently, giving the employee clear and precise reasons why their role is at risk – and then respond to each individual’s reaction to that message with care and compassion.

Immediately after the meeting, a letter reiterating the redundancy message and giving further details of the process should be given to the employee along with any additional supporting documentation.

There are seven key stages to ensuring a successful outcome to these meetings:

1. Legal Considerations: Managers need to be clear whether the one-on-one meetings they are having with their people are either (a) to give the employee notice of dismissal, or (b) to make employees aware that they are at risk of redundancy and that a consultation process will now take place. It is also good practice for managers to make the employee aware of any internal right of appeal procedures.

2. Documentation: Most redundancy programmes will require a series of letters to be sent to the employees who will potentially lose their jobs. The first letter will confirm that jobs are at risk and that the organisation is entering a period of consultation. This should include details of the terms being offered. The second letter confirms that the employee has provisionally been selected for redundancy. The final letter gives formal notice of redundancy. The appropriate letter should be sent to the employee immediately after meeting with their manager.

Internal communications to inform employees who will not be impacted by the redundancy program should also be prepared. These should explain the process and highlight which groups of employees will be impacted. Where appropriate, organisations should also prepare communications for external stakeholders.

A timetable at the start of the process is also useful as a guide both for employees and managers. The timetable should include any steps that the employee needs to take, e.g.: the opportunity to consider alternative vacancies that might be available within the organisation.

3. Frequently Asked Questions: Managers should work with their HR colleagues to identify and sign off approved answers to questions which might arise during the redundancy meetings e.g.: Would my pay be the same if I am offered an alternative role within the organisation? Am I entitled to ask for time off to find new work and attend interviews? What happens to my pension?
Being able to answer these questions in the meeting rather than having to go back to the employee will reassure them that the redundancy process has been properly thought through, and that the concerns of employees have been addressed.

4. Location: When face-to-face meetings are possible, it is important to meet in a quiet, private room free from the risk of interruptions. In glass-walled meeting rooms, seating should be arranged to ensure that the employee is not looking out into a public area.

If managers are meeting with their people online, however, the location is significantly less controllable. Planning and preparation are, therefore, even more important – thinking about what each employee will need in order for them to have the best meeting possible. For example, if an employee is working from home and typically has family members in close proximity, the manager might suggest that for this meeting they need to find a private and quiet space.

This is vital because the conversation must not be rushed or interrupted. Employees need time to process what they are being told. Managers need to be able to read the employee’s emotions and think about how best to react. As a result, there are likely to be long pauses in the conversation, and in some instances it might be appropriate to have a follow-up call later in the day or the following morning.

5. Timing: Most redundancy conversations can be concluded professionally and compassionately in about 15 to 20-minutes – however, it is always wise for a manager to assume they will take half an hour. Managers should also allow sufficient time after the meeting for the employee to adjust to having heard the news before having to spend time with their family. For these reasons, meetings should be booked for the morning or early afternoon. As follow-up call may also be required, meetings should be avoided ahead of days-off and holidays.

6. Rehearsals: The purpose of rehearsals is to ensure that managers remain in control of the meeting at all times. In preparation for these rehearsals, managers should write down the key points they need to make. This not only helps structure a personal narrative, it also acts as an aide memoire if a meeting becomes emotional and the manager needs to bring it back on track.

It should be noted that some organisations require a pre-scripted statement to be read out to employees, so managers should check the organisation’s policy on this ahead of rehearsals.

Below I have posted videos of three of my own online redundancy meeting rehearsals. Click on the images to see the videos and, as you’ll see, these are not ‘perfect’ meetings – far from it. Rather, they were an opportunity for my colleague and I to review the content and delivery of our key messages and address any issues before meeting with employees.

The first meeting is with “Jo” who I thought would be very upset but who would try to suppress her emotions:

The second meeting is with “Pat” who I expected to respond angrily to the news:

The final meeting is with “Cindy” who tends to be positive and optimistic in most situations:

7. Conducting the meeting: I’ve said that employees who are to lose their jobs are entitled to consideration and compassion. So, what constitutes compassion? I suggest the following:

  • The meeting should convey a clear message with no element of ambiguity or doubt. If the employee is to be dismissed at the meeting this should be clear and unequivocal. However, if the meeting is designed to start of redundancy consultation process it should be made equally clear that a final decision has not yet been taken and will only be made once the consultation process is concluded.
  • The employee should be told where any notice period will be worked. Alternatively, the employee should be informed that they will be leaving immediately and paid in lieu of notice.
  • If the organisation is making any ex-gratia payments (i.e.: payments that are in addition to the basic entitlement) then this should be made clear.
  • The employee should be informed that the proposed terms for the severance will be given in writing following the meeting. If the employee wishes to discuss severance terms in more detail the manager should commit to arrange a meeting with a member of the HR team or another line manager the next day or certainly soon after. (Managers should check how the organisation wishes these requests to be met ahead of their meeting with the employee).
  • If job search or outplacement support is being provided by the organisation to help an individual find a new position or move into self-employment or retirement, this should be highlighted in the meeting with details provided either in writing or in a follow-up meeting.

****************

In summary, to conduct a redundancy meeting with professionalism and compassion requires thorough and detailed preparation. The process will never be easy, never be comfortable – but enabling an employee to exit the organisation with dignity is something the very best managers strive to deliver for their people.

If you would like to discuss this article, or have any questions about how you can implement a caring and compassionate redundancy programme in your organisation I can be contacted at therese@orgshakers.com.

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