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Redundancy and Stress

By: Paul Geraghty - Updated: 22 Jan 2021 | comments*Discuss
Redundancy And Stress

Stress is an extremely common problem in those who experience redundancy or who face the threat of it. Studies have shown that metrics such as the proportion of people on prescription anti-depressants or painkillers shoot up by about 60% among those affected by redundancy when compared to the general population. One survey of British workers even rated redundancy as a more stressful life event than divorce or moving house!

Interestingly, men seem to suffer from the stress much more than women do. It may be that the burden of expectations – relating to the traditional image of the male as the family breadwinner - takes a special emotional toll on men when they are no longer able to fulfil that role.

The stress arising from fear of redundancy can be particularly insidious when the threat of redundancy hangs over a workforce for a prolonged period. Uncertainty is corrosive because it makes us feel that we are not in control. This feeling – the sense of not being in control, being a helpless victim of your environment - is one of the key drivers of stress.

The Effects of Stress

Stress ultimately damages the lives of those it affects. Its toll is both emotional and physical. Stressed individuals suffer damage to their relationships, both in the workplace and outside of it, as the pressure blunts their emotional responsiveness in their interactions with others.

The link between stress and physical illness is also well documented. One study found that workers who said their jobs were stressful were 68% more likely to develop coronary heart disease than others who were not routinely subject to stress at work.

Stress Among Those Who Escape Redundancy

The presence of stress among those affected by redundancy is well known. Less well known is that the workers left behind in an organisation after the workforce has been partially purged by a redundancy process also suffer extreme stress too. Studies have shown that their stress levels are only slightly below those of the people who were actually made redundant.

This is a fascinating result, but the reasons for it are unclear. It may be that the company is still in economic difficulties, so that even those left behind are still worried about how long their jobs will last. Or perhaps they went through a stressful redundancy procedure without knowing whether they would be told to stay or asked to leave. It is also possible that the departure of friends and colleagues has had an emotional impact. Conceivably, it could even be something much more mundane : the departure of so many workers has left those left behind with a greater workload than they ever had before, creating a great deal of stress in its own right.

Whatever the reason, the problem of stress in those who survive the redundancy process is one which is largely unacknowledged. Enlightened companies sometimes do make counselling services available to workers who face redundancy; it is rare for counselling to be available to those who escaped it.

Stress Among Managers Who do the Sacking

If you’ve just been given your redundancy notice, you’re probably not exactly overflowing with sympathy and fellow feeling for the managers who gave it to you. But you should spare a little pity for them too. Studies have shown that having to make staff redundant is, in fact, extremely stressful even for managers who do not themselves lose their jobs.

Redundancy and Stress – Conclusion

The problems arising from stress in the workplace have been given increasing recognition in recent years. Redundancy, or the prospect of it, only makes those problems more acute.

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I was given the unexpected news that i am at risk of being made redundant this news was out of no surprise on thursday 3rd september 2020 after 2pm.we was consulted as a team of our sainsbury store closure in Northampton. i have had my final indivdual consultation meeting on thursday 29th october and my notice period started after saturday 7th november 2020 and my last day of employment is sat 6th march 2021, time is coming quick to this date and this was my first permanent job and this will hit me hard.
habz - 22-Jan-21 @ 6:29 PM
I have been in ongoing battle within my department. I was told I would be getting extra support due to taking on an extra role. The support neve came only email from the support team telling me its not their job. I brought it to the attention of my line manager on many an occasion but it was ignored. I've been isolated, received bullying emails and left to carry on my tasks without any support. I flagged up I wanted this raised with HR. I then received an informal warning and following on was told my roll will be made redundant, offered a roll which was said to be a de-motion. Spoke to HR and they said its not the case. Following the Christmas break I was asked to attend a HR meeting. In the meeting I was told it was a consultation for the role im in being made redundant.I asked was this formal and was told yes. I stated I haven't been given the opportunity to have someone with me and they just carried on. There were 2 meetings within three days and imsue to enter the third meeting. Please can you advise if I can appeal this on wrong process and bullying including slanderous comments.
Ady - 17-Jan-21 @ 1:36 PM
I have been identified as high risk of redundancy in work and can't cope. Having been through a long period of unemployment in the past and nearly losing my home, I was on the verge of suicide.I feel myself edging towards that again. I want to take time off for stress and anxiety but then I maybe penalized more. If I took time off sick, then would this be a work related health condition?
Dave - 7-Sep-20 @ 8:16 AM
I have my first redundancy consultation meeting today and people keep asking me who I am taking in with me (companion/colleague etc.) What I can't find out is what is the purpose of that companion? Also, what type of person would be the most suitable?
Simon - 2-Jul-20 @ 9:31 AM
I've been made redundant from one of my 3 jobs and it's taken over a year of me having to work at different places and not knowing what was happening, can I sue them
Paula - 23-Oct-19 @ 10:21 PM
I have been in my job for over 20 years, we were in a situation were there is restructuring going on, there were 5 senior clerical officers and only 4 jobs at this grade.We were based over 2 sites by job of 32 hours per week was taken completely out of the new structure, I went for Voluntary Redundancy but so did two other colleagues on the same grade but only one VR offer we were all told it was down to the public purse least cost would get the redundancy, therefore based on this I don’t think I will be successful.My problem is both girls work less hours than me, do I have to except these hours as a “suitable alternative” or possibly a lower grade job if offered.Thank you
Cat - 29-Jun-19 @ 8:44 AM
Hi, I am currently serving my notice period of redundancy, my employment will end on the 16th of November..... I apealed my redundancy straightaway due to unfair selection process.... Since then I have been signed off work by my Gp due to work related stress and depression..... The company have now arranged an appeal hearing whilst I am off sick, do I have to attend, can the hearing be done without me being there and if they offered to keep me on would I have to accept? As I now no longer wish to work there due to feeling I am treated differently to other employees. Any help on this would Be much appreciated. Thank you
Mike - 6-Nov-18 @ 7:08 PM
My company recently restructured my department an my role was abolished. There were 9 people affected and only 8 jobs available. One person requested and was given voluntary redundancy. I didnt ask for voluntary redundancy at the time and instead took another job that was offered. I was told by the HR department that I could try this job for 4 weeks and if I didn't like it I could apply for voluntary redundancy. There were no guarantees I would be given it. I have now decided I dont want to do the new job and I asked if I could apply for voluntary redundancy without doing the 4 week trial but was told this was not an option. My 4 week trial cannot start for many weeks as I am going to be absent following an operation. The new job should start this month, but i wont be there. Where do I stand? Will they force me to leave without redundancy pay anyway once they know I want to leave?
none - 2-Aug-18 @ 9:18 PM
Bri Did you ever get any advice? im in the same boat and completey empathise. Hope 6 months on things are much better. Josh
josh - 1-Jun-15 @ 5:45 PM
I have been in my job for 20 years and I'm 53. I've been told I'm being made redundant, while many people might be pleased, because I will get a decent payout, but to me it's come as a crushing blow. I've always enjoyed my job and because of my age I think I'll find it hard to get another. Can you give me some advice? I feel hopelessly lost.
Bri - 26-Nov-14 @ 2:19 PM
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