Amid reports of potential job losses across many industry sectors, from John Lewis and The Body Shop to Channel 4, Tata Steel and Deloitte, employers have two factors they will want to bear in mind: the legalities, but also their communication with employees at risk. When communicating redundancies, it’s essential to do so with empathy and transparency.
Here are some key recommendations for employers:
Prepare and inform: Prior to any discussions, gather all relevant information to address employees’ questions and concerns effectively. Remember that a consultation should be just that; a constructive and communicative conversation, not a tick-box exercise.
Empathetic dialogue: Start conversations with empathy. Acknowledge the difficulty of the situation and the feelings involved.
Transparent communication: Consider the communication needs of all affected employees and clearly explain the reasons behind the redundancies, the process that will be followed, and any support that will be provided.
Employers also need to ensure there is a suitable paper trail in place for both themselves and employees so they are clear as to why their role is being made redundant. Make sure employees can engage and consider any suitable alternatives.
Support resources: Offer support through HR services, counselling, or career transition and outplacement support. Make sure employees are aware of these resources.
Inclusive language: Use language that includes everyone affected and avoids singling out individuals—this is especially important to protect the company against any claims and allegations of predetermination.
Avoid Jargon: Keep language simple to ensure understanding, avoiding legal or technical terms that may cause confusion, especially for neurodivergent individuals.
The importance of inclusive language and avoiding jargon when communicating redundancies
While all the above are important when communicating redundancies, we want to go into more detail on two recommendations: inclusive language and avoiding jargon.
When addressing redundancy, inclusive language is a fundamental aspect to consider, as it can significantly affect the psychological wellbeing of those involved.
Whether speaking to the team or individual employees, an employer should choose words that maintain dignity and respect. For example, instead of saying someone was ‘let go’, consider saying ‘their role was made redundant’.
The employer should also focus on the position rather than the person. This detaches personal identity from the business decision and helps reduce feelings of personal failure.
Employers should always endeavour to remain sensitive when it comes to their vocabulary. Use terms that are gentle yet clear. Ambiguous language can lead to misunderstanding and rumours, which may increase anxiety.
Employers should also always provide information directly to the affected employees before making general announcements, to ensure they do not feel bypassed or undervalued. Again, this is also key to reducing a risk of any claim; announcements can demonstrate predetermination which should be avoided at all costs.
Remember, the power of language during such sensitive scenarios can either make things better or worse. It’s not just what is said, but how it’s said, that matters.
Just as important as the inclusivity of language is its clarity. Business jargon can create barriers to understanding, especially for employees who might not have specialist knowledge or are new to the workplace.
As such, employers should adopt plain language when communicating redundancies to employees. Use straightforward, common words to ensure messages are universally understood.
When technical terms are unavoidable, provide clear explanations or alternatives.
Clear communication fosters a shared understanding, enabling all team members to contribute meaningfully to conversations and decision-making.
By blending inclusivity with clarity, employers can create a workplace that’s not only nurturing but also efficient. If there’s a particular scenario or context you’re concerned about, let’s explore that together. Get in touch with us via email@example.com.
Remember, the way redundancies are handled can significantly affect your company’s culture and the wellbeing of remaining employees. Find out more about how we can help on our Redundancy and Business Reorganisation page.
Please note this blog is for reference purposes only and is only accurate at which the date it was published. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any actions. Please contact us if you have any questions on firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog was prepared with assistance from Generative AI.