You've successfully subscribed to Thrive In Asia
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Thrive In Asia
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Billing info update failed.
Managing Redundancies with Dignity and Empathy

Managing Redundancies with Dignity and Empathy

How can HR aid impacted individuals to manage exits and redundancies?

Site Assistant
Site Assistant

by Lim Zhi Rong

2016 could be a year many remembers as a time where companies went through transformation, restructuring and redundancies...

Recently, Standard Chartered Bank announced 15,000 job cuts globally. Global IT MNC Intel announced 12,000 job cuts globally. Even Goldman Sachs has cut 2,600 people this year - more than at any time since 2008.

Closer to home in Singapore, the last quarter has seen the highest number of workers made redundant in the first quarter since 2009. This was according to a new Ministry of Manpower (MOM) labour market report. In the first quarter of 2016, 4,710 redundancies were found to have been made in the island-nation wide.

And the list can go on and on...

As a HR Professional, I have had unfortunately, the chance to manage exits and redundancies in my life. It is never easy, always a tough conversation and could be very sensitive when the impacted individuals are also some of your closest colleagues and friends.

This article seeks to shed light and share suggestions and possible ways HR can aid impacted individuals in the transition and manage redundancies with dignity and empathy. Employees doesn't care how many redundancies you're making or as a percentage of the workforce. Every redundancy is 100% unemployment to an impacted individual.

1. Provide Career Outplacement Support

Managing redundancies is more than just communicating a redundancy package and paying impacted employees a X month salary for every X years of service tenure with the company.

It is about helping the individual to pick up again, get ready to restart in another new turning point of their life. When communicating redundancy package, HR Leaders can integrate Career Outplacement Support into it. Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH) is one of the leading Career Outplacement Support service provider and here, I quote from Lyndsay Potts, Managing Director of LHH,

"At LHH we are working hard to minimize the trauma of retrenchment and craft career strategies, assist with professional branding, and generate opportunities for individuals.

Good companies understand the systemic nature of restructuring and the potential impact on their Employer Brand, productivity, and on their ability to attract and retain talent in the future.

Off boarding with dignity has a powerful ROI and Return in Engagement RIE".

As HR Professionals, we should reinforce the importance and need to provide career outplacement support for every impacted individual, regardless of their seniority and tenure with the company.

2. Recruitment Agency Contacts

In every redundancy case that I've managed, I've always strive to provide meaningful recruitment agency contacts for the impacted individual.

If it is an impacted individual from the Finance department, I'll link him/her up with a leading Finance consultant from CAP CG and Kerry. If it is an impacted individual from the Marketing department, I've a couple of trusted friends from Randstad, CharterHouse Partnership and Robert Walters who may be able to assist.

The point here - be selfless and go the extra mile. Help others and don't expect anything in return. Sometimes, impacted individuals are so shocked by the redundancy communication; they have stayed with the company for so long and they have lost touch with external recruitment agency networks over the years.

As a HR Professional, you should have cultivated such recruitment agency networks and this is the least HR Leaders can do to help, i.e. to share and connect them with people who will be able to help them in their next job search.

Everybody wins here - the agency get a new candidate lead, the impacted individual is connected with someone who may be able to help him/her.

3. Insurance, Benefits and Extending Local Stay

When employees are made redundant, some of them may not be covered by adequate medical insurance after their last day of work with the company.

I make it a point to educate them to get themselves insured (especially if they are not familiar with the insurance landscape in Singapore), remind them of the benefits that they are still eligible for (pro-rated or in full) until the last day of their employment and what are the areas to take care for themselves when they are no longer employed by the company.

When my foreign colleagues who are on employment pass are made redundant in Singapore, I educate them to explore options, including how to apply for a Personalised Employment Pass (PEP) which will allow them to stay in Singapore longer without a job. The cessation of their regular employment pass will happen on their last day of work and they will be allowed to stay only for an additional 30 days.

It makes a whole lot of a difference, especially if their intention is to stay in Singapore and spend sufficient time to look for a good role, company and job.

The point here is to educate them of the possible options for life after their last day of work/redundancy. Do it because you're a HR Leader with a heart and truly care about people.


I may be a HR Professional today, but I am also a manager, a colleague and an employee just like anyone else. Putting yourself in the shoes of employees going through redundancies can really help you to prepare and manage redundancy with empathy.

Addressing the softer issues in a redundancy goes a long way... and it makes HR more human. We are call Human Resources after all.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.