Handling redundancy face-to-face meeting

A friend of mine has to deliver the redundancy notice face to face for the first time. She had been involved in the process of selection a few times but never had to deliver this to anyone in her team.

She has received advise on the legalities from her own HR department but is looking for assistance on the practicalities of the face to face meeting.  I've never had to make anyone redundant so am limited on advise I can give on handling the face to face meeting.

I'm sure there are many out there that have done this - could you please share some practical advise on what sort of things she  will need to be ready for. (her own HR department do issue some guidelines like .. make sure you sit by the door in case you need to get out the meeting in a hurry!!, )

Many thanks and regards 

  • She should be calm and professional.  Ideally she should have a script to work to to ensure that all the essential areas are covered and the full information provided to the employees.  They should of course be given the right to appeal.  It would help if the company are providing some support to find another job eg outplacement and/or an employee assistance programme for those are particularly badly affected.  

    Some employees may take it badly whilst others may not.  

  • Hi Helen,

    I would say the best thing is for her to be very clear, direct and honest with what she says.  When having to give people bad news there is a tendency to try to wrap it up into a "nicer" package by saying loads of waffle about what a great person they are and how they are really good at their job etc and the meaning gets lost.  The employee just wants to know whether they have a job or not and what that means - i.e. when do they leave, how much money will they get etc.

    If she starts saying that the employee is a great worker etc then the employee is basically sitting there thinking, well why are you getting rid of me then!

    I assume that there will have been a consultation period prior to this meeting so this should be a factual meeting to confirm the outcome - it shouldn't be rehashing old ground or worse bringing new things into the mix.

    The employee could have any number of reactions from anger to tears so your friend will need to remain calm and professional and let the employee vent their feelings even if this feels a bit like a personal attack.

    Its never easy to do these meetings but however hard it is for the person delivering the news it can be a whole lot worse for the person receiving it so your friend should focus on the employee and make it about them and not her personal feelings.

     I agree with Sandra that a script is a good idea so that your friend can make sure she has covered everything

  • Thanks for your help everyone, I'm sure all of this will be appreciated.


  • I would add, always hide a box of tissues somewhere in the room.  Don't put them front and centre on the table, as that sets a subconscious expectation that tears are required.  No matter how prepared people think they are for the bad news, it always catches some out.  If you're prepared, you can handle it with dignity and discretion.
  • As already mentioned, employees don't want to hear waffle, they want to hear the simple facts.  The meeting should follow on from full consultation and outcome so there should be no surprises.  Some people can react quite unexpectedly, I've had to duck to miss a chair that was thrown at me/the GM from a member of the management team - he had very long service and just "lost it" in the meeting.
  • In addition to the great advice above, would just observe that handing over notice of redundancy ought to be towards the end of a staged process and c ome as no great shock to the employee.

    Whereas being first informed that as a result of a selection process or whatever that they're headed towards such notice can come as a terrible blow  to some people, whilst others often are expecting it to happen anyhow.

    Especially if multiple notifications are being made, stage manage the event very carefully in order to avoid if at all possible the usual 'walk of shame' past curious colleagues both to and especially from the terrible meeting.

    Keep the notification short and simple yet try to exude some empathy and sympathy as opposed to 'couldn't care' coldness. Those who take it badly will be stunned and won't be taking in anything at all that's said to them after the initial notification - keep all this for later.

    It was often advised not to arrange such things for the end of a working week, especially on a Friday afternoon, because the 'victims' will tend to brood beyond assistance sources over the weekend.

    Again, especially if multiple employees being notified, a nearby private 'recovery room' can be a good idea. For really big shows, I've put a trained and experienced hired-in counsellor in there to comfort and to talk  things through with people, but at a pinch anyone suitable will do, or even just the room and the obligatory box of tissues.

    Ensure they've somewhere suitable to go after hearing the news - let them go home, perhaps. On rare-ish occasions I've phoned wives etc to forewarn them of the situation, but this is an extreme requirement and fraught with its own troubles.

    Just a few random thoughts.
  • In reply to David:

    PS Helen

    Forgot to say: 'HR' shouldn't have to impart this kind of news themselves - it is the responsibility of the line manager, of course with full assistance from HR.
  • I agree David (re HR not delivering the news) hence I have never been in this situation myself. 

    I am the one advising beforehand and then brought in immediately after the meeting with a coffee and to go through the practical stuff.


  • Indeed, Helen 

    And this provokes one more afterthought - HR should try not to neglect the effect of all this on the line manager involved. Some will take it in their stride others will be ruthless about it, but for some managers it can be a very upsetting experience too, and they need emotional support as well.

  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    6 Mar, 2014 09:13

    Good point, David...

    Managing survivor guilt

  • one thing to remember is that the role is redundant NOT the person.