Redundancy, Mental Health and the Employer

human figures against grid background

April 2019

Redundancy, Mental Health and the Employer

human figures against grid background - Redundancy, Mental Health and the Employer

Early in 2019, Honda confirmed its intention to close its Swindon car plant in 2021, with the loss of some 3,500 direct jobs. Not to mention the related jobs in Honda’s supply chain. The company’s Swindon plant is its only EU base, building 160,000 Honda Civics a year.

Those affected will now be dealing with a range of emotions.  In a previous post we’ve examined mental health in the workplace in general. But this worrying news from Honda makes it timely to explore workplace mental health in relation to redundancy and the particular problems it brings.


When companies are firing their employees they often draw on the gamut of euphemisms used to soften the bitterness of the pill.  They talk of downsizing, outsourcing, rationalisation, organisational change, company review or restructuring. In Honda’s case they cited global changes in the car industry and their need to launch electric cars, claiming Brexit not to be an influence. Here is not the place to debate that.

Yet it makes no difference what spin you put on it, when someone is fired from their work their emotions tend to follow similar patterns.

Loss of Identity

Redundancy is now more commonplace than it was a generation or so ago. The old notion of the job for life and the gold watch at the end of many years of faithful service is long-gone. Ergo, redundancy doesn’t, for some at least, have the same level of negative connotation that it did a generation ago. It’s almostbecome a fact of working life.

Faceless queue of people

That said, for someone that’s been in one job for well over twenty years – as is true for some of Honda’s workers – their redundancy notices are likely to be a bitter blow. When someone’s been in one job for a long time they tend to have invested a lot, oftentimes too much, of themselves in it.  Thus, losing it might lead to a loss of identity – a feeling of having no function. Returning to the old-job-for-life society of old, retirement often had the same effect. 

In addition, self-confidence can become eroded the longer the joblessness goes on for. Society goes to work – if you’re not, then that can be tough. Men in particular are vulnerable here.

This 2018 article from the Telegraph, about how to deal with redundancy, discusses the relationship between job loss and mental health. James Laurence, from the University of Manchester, observed that certain factors magnified redundancy’s negative effects. Such as having redundancy forced upon them rather than choosing it. He found that those who’d had redundancy forced upon them – like Swindon’s Honda workers – had significantly lower senses of self-confidence . This in both their employability and in general.

Moreover, the more an individual valued their job, the greater was their post-redundancy loss of confidence. Studies comparing those forced to resign with those who chose to, found higher levels of depression in the former along with a reduced tendency to look for new work. And, even if they did get another job, they often remained depressed, lacked commitment to it and worried more about losing that job. These tendencies were much less marked in those who’d chosen redundancy.

Common Reactions

The one saving grace that the Honda workers have – if we can call it that – is that they have time to prepare for the end. It’s a small crumb of comfort from an otherwise unpalatable cake. Because of course it happens too often that too many workers have no prior warning or sense that their job is going. Either way, the typical reaction is physical shock alongside classic grief symptoms. Because make no mistake about it, job loss is a bereavement and incurs the same reactions:

  • Shock
  • Disbelief
  • Anger
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Loss of confidence and a sense of ‘why me?’

It’s not hard to see the potential detrimental effect on mental health.

How do we then cope with losing that which we don’t expect to lose? And here I’m referring to both employer and staff. For Honda, firing 3,500 people might be nothing more than collateral damage. But for the small business owner, having to fire staff is as distressing to do, as it is to be the soul or souls on the receiving end.

Should you be an employer facing this situation, Go-Legal HR will advise and support both you and your staff through the process.

We will help you ensure you have a meaningful redundancy consultation process and assist you with making correct redundancy payment calculations.

From giving your staff enough time off to look for work to your redundancy selection criteria there’s a lot for you the employer to think about.

Done well, you can at least limit, if not remove altogether, the potential detrimental effects on your employees’ mental health. We’re here to help you through it.

Don’t wait – get in touch now and arrange a consultation to talk it through in more detail.

Redundancy can be a positive thing

While it is difficult to appreciate when you are affected by redundancy, it’s important to be aware that it doesn’t haveto be the end of the world. It can be the harbinger of a whole new one.

Many people that have lost their jobs, whether by choice  or had it forced upon them, take advantage of their situation. They return to education or start a business. With hard work and determination, they turn an undoubted negative into a whole new life. It’s not easy no – but the phoenix can arise from the ashes.



Outsourcing your HR functions: the benefits

Outsourcing your HR functions: the benefits

Go-Legal HR - The benefits of outsourcing your HR functions

Expanding your business and taking on staff brings many things – HR responsibilities included. One of which  is the mental health of your staff. Add more staff to the payroll and you’re entering the realms of diversity issues, office relationships, banter and employment tribunals. A lot of potential HR headaches there!

That’s a lot of HR issues for one small business to handle. As if all that weren’t enough, as this article from Forbes about the benefits of HR outsourcing points out, ‘With today’s emphasis on company culture and loyalty, the role of human resources management and the types of benefits a company offers has become increasingly important for a business’s future.’

But how can you be competitive in these areas if you’re a small or medium-sized business? That’s one heck of an ask.

As a small company you won’t have the budget to have the requisite personnel on your own payroll. And, even if you do, HR issues are often a minefield. And minefields, as we all know, are things fraught with danger. They need experts to traverse them without causing an epic explosion. And anyway, having your own in-house HR department might not be the best use of company funds. Wouldn’t you be better off investing the cost of a HR department on your businesses core activities? An investment that will, over time, fuel your business success.

As for the HR – Outsourcing is Your Saviour

According to the CIPD, the main HR function that businesses outsource is payroll. Hot on payroll’s heels is the provision of complex advice, including case management.

The CIPD cites increased efficiency and access to expertise amongst the benefits of outsourcing. To return to Forbes: ‘some mistakes in HR management will not only hurt employee loyalty, but can lead to fines.’  It’s not sound business sense to trust HR responsibilities to an employee who either:

  • Deals with these issues on a part-time basis only
  • And/or has not had enough training in HR matters

Any mistakes made could turn out to be expensive indeed, and in more ways than one. It’s better by far to bolster areas of weakness with an outsourced HR solution that is both cost-effective and expertise-effective.

Note that the CIPD voices a note of caution about HR outsourcing. They suggest that ‘it can also present challenges, such as loss of local knowledge and processes and fragmentation of the service provided.’ That’s a fair point. But one that you can address by finding, where it’s possible, your HR outsourcing support in your locality.

Should you be a Swindon or Wiltshire business in need of experienced HR outsourcing support then look no further than Go-Legal HR. That said, Go-Legal HR supports clients across the country.

About Go-Legal HR

Go Legal HR offer a comprehensive service focusing on all aspects of the legal compliance that goes hand-in-hand with employing people.

Bringing his thirty-two years of experience to the job in hand, Paul works with small to medium sized businesses. These are businesses that employ staff but neither have nor need a full-time, in-house HR advisor or manager. He also supports internal HR personnel lacking the necessary expertise in employment law.

The Go-Legal expert advice and hands-on help covers four key areas:

  1. Employment contracts, and policies and procedures
  2. Employee relations including dispute resolution and mediation
  3. Employment tribunal preparation and support
  4. Recruitment and selection

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