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Posted by on in Redundancy
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How does it feel to deliver bad news at work?

Workplace experts Acas have published a new study into how employees feel about delivering news of redundancies and redeployment to their colleagues.

The study found that:

  • envoys from the public and private sector had similar attitudes towards the role and behaved in similar ways regarding the duties involved,
  • they considered the role the most emotionally demanding thing they had undertaken in their working lives,
  • they work very hard to ensure they do a professional job of breaking the news, often involving long hours and emotional stress which can impact on their personal lives,
  • the closer the relationship the envoy has with those facing redundancy, the more difficult the process is for them, particularly if they still have to work with those affected for some time to come, and
  • envoys coped with the role in different ways, often distancing themselves from the situation by focusing on the process involved which reduced their sense of personal responsibility for the situation.

The study also found that experiences in the private and public sectors varied. Envoys in the private sector were more likely to be involved in the decision making process around downsizing which gave them a greater sense of ownership. This helped them deal with the more difficult aspect of the role.

In contrast public sector envoys were less likely to be involved, and though they may understand the reasons behind decisions, they had less sense of ownership and buy in regarding decisions and the procedures for implementing any job losses.

An 'envoy,' is the term used to describe the person - usually a line manager or HR manager - who delivers news to others when an organisation is downsizing.

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