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GTP21: How to support the wellbeing of your employees during restructuring

Next Steps Consulting

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2021 Growth Through People campaign.

Growth Through People is the Chamber’s annual campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity and grow through improved leadership and people management skills. In 2021 this involves 8 free online workshops taking place throughout March, and a virtual Growth Through People conference on 30th March. In addition, throughout the campaign the Chambers will be publishing thought leadership podcasts, videos and blog content such as this.

Thanks to our Headline Sponsors – Aston University, BMet College and the University of Birmingham’s Work Inclusivity Research Centre - all workshops are free to attend. Interested readers can find out more and register to attend Growth Through People workshops here, and the Growth Through People conference here.

Many organisations are finding themselves in difficult circumstances where a restructure is becoming inevitable with little choice but to make redundancies.

Taking a “people first” approach considering the wellbeing of your employees throughout, is not only the right thing to do, but it sends a message about the type of organisation you are which will build confidence levels and trust.

Going through a restructure is a challenging and emotional time for all. Here are our thoughts on the steps you can take to lead this process in an empathetic way giving maximum support to your employees.

How to effectively lead through a restructure:

  • Be honest and transparent - ensure you give as much information as possible about the reasons for the restructure, timescales and support you will be offering.
  • Have a focus on your managers - provide clarity and training on how to effectively manage consultation meetings and have regular 1-1’s to check in with their wellbeing and how they are coping with the situation.
  • Be visible -as a leader you need to be seen and offer up opportunities for people to reach out to you as well as leading business wide communications and meetings.
  • Live by your values - these underpin you organisation now and in the future and it’s essential these values at the heart of everything you do.

How to support those affected by redundancy:

  • Communicate regularly - lack of communications will make employees feel even more anxious so communicate regularly with lots of opportunities for Q&A sessions.
  • Give individuals time and flexibility - allow employees the opportunity to go home after initial consultation meetings and consider how you can provide further time off or flexible working.
  • Signpost to wellbeing support -if you have an EAP, let them know a restructure is taking place and ensure employees know how to access this. Signpost to other support and consider putting on additional programmes such as counselling or workshops on building resilience or managing change.
  • Provide financial wellbeing support -one of the immediate worries for individuals will be their financial situation. Provide or signpost to financial wellbeing resources to help individuals with their personal finances.
  • Provide outplacement support -particularly in the current job market, finding a new job is challenging, by providing outplacement you can ensure those affected have the best possible chance of finding a new role quickly.

How to support those that are not directly impacted:

  • Communications -even those not at risk will still be impacted, ensure you communicate regularly and bring people together for Q&A sessions and provide FAQ’
  • Prepare for emotional responses -whilst there may initially be relief felt by ‘survivors’ this may also lead to feelings of guilt, anger and a lack of motivation, engagement and productivity. Have open conversations about how employees are feeling and signpost to support available to them.
  • Track engagement - after the restructure undertake pulse surveys or focus groups to understand how individuals are feeling and if there are any longer term impacts such as significantly increased workloads or reduced motivation levels which you can build into your engagement

Having an employee centric, personalised and 1-1 approach ensuring everyone is treated as an individual getting the help and support they need will ensure the most positive outcome as possible for all.  Whilst it is never an easy process, focussing on your people will lead to better levels of engagement, wellbeing, productivity and talent retention.

Gemma Carter-Morris
Next Steps Consulting