How to communicate job losses in your organisation

I can tell from my blog’s statistics that you are looking for help communicating job losses and redundancies.

If you’re struggling to know what to write and what to advise your organisation, I encourage you to join me online tomorrow morning.

I’ll be a guest on Eleanor Tweddell’s Another Door podcast at 9.30am BST on Thursday 9 July 2020 and we’ll be discussing the topic. You’re welcome to tune in live to the show while we talk. Here’s the link you need.

9 July update: Here’s the show.

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Eleanor is a former in-house IC professional who is now running her own business, Another Door, as a redundancy mentor. As well as the communications consultancy, Eleanor now works with people who have been made redundant and supports them through the shock to thriving. The Another Door community was inspired by working with businesses on change programmes, who only offered limited support for people affected.

Regular readers of my blog will know Eleanor wrote a guest post for All Things IC in April 2019: How to communicate redundancies.

Think about language

My advice when communicating this topic is to analyse your language.

The word redundant is a dreadful one. The dictionary defines it as: “no longer needed or useful” – is that really what we want to tell our employees?

There are alternatives, talk about job losses, but make sure you are talking about people rather than headcount and numbers. Every number is a person, your internal communication and leadership communication needs to reflect this.

Sometimes the cold hard facts are that a person’s role is no longer needed. That could be for a variety of reasons e.g. automation, mergers and acquisitions, changes in priorities and products etc. But again, watch your language here – the role is redundant, but is the person? Will you be looking to redeploy them in the organisation? Are there other opportunities to use their skill sets in your company?

You can’t fudge this. Don’t hide behind superfluous language. If there are job losses, you need to say so. But do so with compassion, empathy and kindness.

I blogged recently on this topic: How to communicate with compassion.

Rachel Miller All Things IC

Your task list

From an internal communication perceptive, once you know there will be job losses in your organisation, your task list typically includes:

  • Analysing who is involved and creating stakeholder maps, segmenting employees and diarising key milestones.
  • Knowing who the key decision makers are e.g your HR colleagues and leaders.
  • Crafting the strategic narrative (the story) of the changes. This includes explaining why the change is happening and its purpose.
  • Writing key messages to help your leaders and line managers be consistent.
  • Coaching managers to have difficult conversations. Tip: get them comfortable being uncomfortable, I use peer-to-peer practice sessions to help them do this.
  • Creating collateral e.g. letters, talking points, presentations, guides for line managers.
  • Informing external stakeholders and interested parties e.g. your employee assistance programme, so they can support employees.
  • Advising on and/or creating information for employees who are leaving the company or who are displaced.

To make any of this work, you need to be truly effective in your role as an internal communicator. That means having the right relationships with the right people so you can hit the ground running, asking questions, knowing who decision makers are, holding the organisation to account over the promises it makes, listening to rumours and concerns from employees and incorporating those into your internal communication and working constructively with employees at all levels of the organisation.

You need to focus on the internal side of internal communication.

Regular readers of my blog will also recognise this artwork. I had it created by Lisa Kirkbride when All Things IC turned five years old in 2018. We need to be mindful of our employees’ (and Comms team’s) mental health and wellbeing at all times. When we’re communicating job losses, it’s critical.

According to Eleanor: “Redundancies are never good news. But how they are handled can affect people long after garden leave, long after notice period and will become what they remember about working there.”

Do join us tomorrow, here’s the link you need. It will also be available to listen to as a replay if you’re not able to join us live.

Further reading on the All Things IC blog

How I can support you through consultancy

Are you struggling to communicate change? I can help you. Why not book one of my popular Power Hour calls and we can talk it through together confidentially.

I could also run my Change Communication Masterclass remotely with you 1-2-1 via a 2.5 hour session.

Sign up to the virtual Comms Bootcamp next week

I’m going to be giving a keynote talk at the Poppulo #CommsBootcamp on 14 July 2020 on the topic of communicating change successfully. Tickets are free and available now. See the Poppulo website for everything you need to know and to save your place.

Thank you for stopping by


First published on the All Things IC blog 8 July 2020


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