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Losing your job in public

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

The TodayFM closure and HealthNZ job cut plans are harbingers of a period of significant redundancy announcements.

Many executives have either forgotten, or haven’t yet faced, the reputation risks from large-scale redundancies.

A considerable difference between now and post-GFC, the last period of significant job losses, is the openness of employee’s professional lives, courtesy of social media.

Over the past few months people have been reporting their pending and actual redundancy in real time via LinkedIn and Facebook. The mood has been positive, as employees portrayed themselves as loyal, and their newly unemployed status as unrelated to their job-worthiness.

This mood will change as unemployment grows. Losing your job will again become a life-risk. That greatly increases the reputation risk for organisations.

The ‘live reporting’ of redundancies is a new risk, but the old rules of communicating to staff still apply, because what works for staff will work with those they speak to.

· Organisations must reduce, now, the relentless happy talk, because it creates a sense of betrayal when redundancies arise.

· Don’t sugar-coat redundancies. Trite sentiments make concern look like a pretence. Unflinching honesty is the best honour you can pay staff.

· Provide credible explanations that cite detail and data, and real-world conditions.

· Concentrate communication into a senior executive chosen for their empathy, succinctness and knowledge of the business and staff, empowered to quickly fix problems.

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