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Don’t shoot the messenger: The enigmatic impact of conveying bad news during redundancy situations and how to limit the impact

Petzer, M (2020) Don’t shoot the messenger: The enigmatic impact of conveying bad news during redundancy situations and how to limit the impact. In: 2020 Applied Research Conference . (Applied Research Conference (ARC), 22-23 January 2020, Dublin, Ireland).

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Abstract

.“Redundancy envoys,” the managers and HR Professionals that break bad news to staff about job losses are key to the effectiveness of an organisation’s redundancy programme. If they suffer a bad experience dealing with the change – and are not properly looked after - it can hamper an organisation’s chances of benefits being realised. A paper submitted to the CIPD’s Applied Research Conference 2020 says redundancy envoys – a job that can fall to those in critical leadership roles such as directors, managers or HR professionals – can suffer considerable psychological damage. They carry the burden of “activities such as the strategy, planning, process, implementation, communication and consultations associated with redundancies, as well as dealing with the aftermath,” explains author Dr Madeleine Petzer, senior lecturer HRM at Liverpool John Moores University. As such, it can take its toll on their emotional wellbeing triggering feelings such as guilt, fear, anger or frustration. Even worse, redundancy envoys can suffer sleepless nights and high stress levels resulting in the need for therapy or medication, and even leading to long-term absences and resignations, says the paper, Don’t shoot the messenger: The enigmatic impact of conveying bad news during redundancy situations. Despite these negative experiences, redundancy envoys are still relied upon by employers to boost engagement and motivation during a time of profound change, adds the study. Petzer argues that “with the rate of redundancies on an upward spiral” (now even more heightened amid the outbreak of Covid-19) it is imperative that organisations understand the “idiosyncrasy” of this group of people. Her research involved 36 interviews with Business directors, HR professionals, Line managers and Employee representatives as well as collecting data from a private sector organisation that underwent a redundancy programme, using four different redundancy models over four years. Results highlighted that redundancy envoys suffered a “rollercoaster of emotions”. Interestingly, directors and line managers were more prone to experiencing guilt than HR professionals. Overall, the psychological effects on all redundancy envoys had repercussions for their organisations – it curbed managers’ productivity and their ability to function effectively. Even more significantly, it led to emotional detachment reducing their effectiveness in leading and driving a programme of organisational change. “Organisations need to appreciate that the very people they ask to run their business are being put under undue stress by implementing redundancies,” says the study. It urges employers to put tailored support strategies and training in place to mitigate the negative experiences of redundancy envoys during restructure programmes. Organisations must understand the particular emotions being experienced, guilt or fear, for example, and respond with appropriate interventions.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Divisions: Business & Management (new Sep 19)
Publisher: CIPD
Date Deposited: 19 May 2020 11:15
Last Modified: 19 May 2020 11:15
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12959

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