How to humanise redundancy in banking, finance and financial services

Victoria McLean our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 18 August 2021

Businesses across the world are making tough decisions to stay productive and profitable. The enormous financial impact of the pandemic means that mass redundancies will continue to be a fact of life for the foreseeable future.

In the banking and financial sectors, the economic consequences may not be quite as severe as the 2008 crisis, yet the ongoing effect of Covid-19 is creating significant changes and challenges – digital transformation, loss of high street branches and innovating to stay competitive while still delivering results and attracting fresh talent. Something our own CEO knows only too well. At the peak of the 2008 crisis, Victoria was at Merrill Lynch and saw thousands of employees being made redundant across this sector, leaving morale, productivity and loyalty at an all-time low.

Making people redundant is complex. It isn’t just about the emotional, financial and practical impact on lives, it can also adversely affect morale in the workplace – especially when so many of us now work remotely and have lost that team connection. It can also damage company reputation.

This makes it more important than ever to approach the redundancy process with care and compassion. With years of experience in banking and finance - including private banking executive search and financial services executive search - you can count on us for robust advice and sector expertise.

Here’s our step-by- step guide to handling redundancies sensitively.

Communicate clearly and openly right from the start

Make a redundancy plan with a clear communication strategy – being transparent will help counter low morale and mitigate against feelings of being overlooked, invisible and out of the loop. Your employees are likely to feel upset, confused and worried so explain the reasons behind the decision.

Focus on early consultation and support, giving people timescales, next steps and named contacts.

Show authenticity and compassion

There’s nothing a like a global pandemic to bring out empathy and kindness. CEOs and business leaders are starting to show their compassion in difficult circumstances, as witnessed in the much lauded open letter from Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky to his employees in May 2020. He gave clear direction, practical next steps for those being made redundant and reassurance with ongoing support.

Harnessing these emotions and reflecting them in the way you approach the redundancy process will also help protect your reputation and give impacted employees a less negative view – which will cut the number of detrimental reviews on sites like Glassdoor.

Redeploy where possible

Don’t overlook redeployment - you may have talent that could be valuable elsewhere in the organisation so dedicate time to actively identifying and promoting internal opportunities, which will send a strong, positive message to your people.

Share resources and support

Make sure everyone knows where to go for help, whether this is practical, financial or mental health and wellbeing support. Charities, such as Mind and Time to Change provide lots of invaluable guidance on managing negative thought patterns.

This is also an area where Hanover Outplacement Solutions can offer vital help and expert advice to alleviate the stress for your HR teams and those who are leaving the business.

Our tailored outplacement support can include CV writing , creating strong, effective LinkedIn profiles, help with job hunting, and interview training together with career transition coaching.

It doesn’t have to be the same for everyone - you might choose different outplacement packages for different groups and teams.

Bear in mind that some exiting employees may well have been with you for many years. It’s not easy to leave a familiar environment and start  job hunting again in a world where things are done very differently – especially with the rise of virtual interviews.

Reactions can also be different – some people may be angry, hurt and in shock, others may see an opportunity, a chance to re-evaluate their careers and pursue something they’ve always dreamed of.

Our outplacement packages allow individuals to choose what they need – putting them in control at a time when they may feel everything is out of control. In our Career Refinery, we offer practical resources to help with CVs, LinkedIn profiles and interview technique as well as webinars including building resilience and eradicating unproductive worry.

You don’t have to face making redundancies alone. Get in touch to find out about the support we can give your HR team and your employees.  

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