Letting people go well: A guide on what to do

  • Many organisations are facing the grim reality of having to let go of highly valued staff because of the financial impact of COVID-19.
  • Ensure you communicate honestly authentically with those being made redundant and with other staff.
  • And don’t underestimate the stress felt by HR staff and leaders implementing the decisions.

As the world scrambles to respond to the threat COVID-19 poses to humanity, life has become particularly challenging for a lot of people. A report by the Grattan Institute predicts between 14 and 26 per cent of Australian workers could be out of work as a direct result of the coronavirus shutdown, with the crisis having an enduring impact on employment for years to come.

Some employers find themselves for the first time having to let go of highly valued staff because they simply can’t afford to keep them. Even those leaders who have faced the hard task of downsizing before, are being forced to make extremely difficult decisions that undeniably impact lives. These decisions are being reached in very short time frames with not a lot of certainty of the future to work with.

While there is nothing anyone can do to avoid altogether the circumstances we find ourselves in, nor the pain inherent in letting people go, a respectful and compassionate approach will go some way to making it a little easier for all concerned.

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