Make the most of staff following restructure

By Michelle Pittorino

It’s not uncommon for the employees who remain after restructure and redundancies to experience what is known as ‘survivor syndrome’. 

This can be cultivated through increased workload pressures, distress over losing colleagues, apprehension about job stability and mistrust if employees feel the process was handled poorly. 

While restructuring generally has a negative effect on employee wellbeing, there are certain steps employers can take to reduce the impact and even enhance employee engagement as a result.  

Keep communication lines open 

Communication and consultation with employees are vital during this process and should commence early on and continue throughoutand following, the changes being implemented.  

If employees receive regular and transparent communication and support through the process, trust can be fostered which has a proven ability to significantly reduce the negative effects a restructure can deliver on employee wellbeing.  

Further, if employees are involved in the process, studies indicate their wellbeing is significantly enhanced compared with employees that have no ownership over the process.   

This highlights the need for strong collaboration and consultation with your employees. 

Monitor wellbeing, provide support 

Throughout the communication and support period, supervisors should be aware of ‘at risk’ or vulnerable employees.  

Older employees, people who easily become stressed or experience anxiety, and those who may have difficulty finding alternate work report higher levels of negative effects from restructures.  

Employers may need to give greater support and coaching to these employees.  

This might include providing additional training coupled with a buddy system to allow them to expand their skill set and ensure they continue to feel valued.  

As employers, we have a duty of care to ensure that employees are working in a safe environment, physically and psychologically.  

Supervisors should continue to monitor their workforce to look for any signs of stress amongst workers.  

Different communication and support strategies may need to be employed to assist employees varying requirements.  

Supervisors need support too 

Supervisors themselves often have the difficult task of being at the ‘front line’ of the process.  

They may be involved in developing the process, however at the same time need to be supporting their own employees.  

They may know too much or too little and juggling this with the need to be honest with their employees can be difficult.  

Extra support and training should be given to supervisors throughout this process.  

The offer of an Employee Assistance Program could also be considered, not only for staff but also for supervisors and managers who are executing the restructure.  

For further advice regarding the redundancy process, managing mental health during a restructure or information on the guide, contact CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or advice@cciwa.com. 

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