While the separation conversation can be difficult for you as an employer, not surprisingly, it’s even more challenging and confronting for the employee being made redundant.

To appropriately support your employees during this time, it’s important to have a greater understanding of what they will be experiencing and feeling upon learning about their involuntary redundancy.


The first reaction a transitioning employee will experience is shock. For some, it may not be too surprising. They may have seen signs that the company was in trouble, their role was no longer needed, or that outside forces were impacting on the ability for the business to continue as usual. But for others, it may be a huge blow that they didn’t see coming.

As a result, your employee will likely go into flight or fright; their pulse will increase rapidly, they may become blank in facial expression and can even experience a wave of nausea, anxiety and confusion.

Anger and frustration

For some, shock can lead to irritability, and they may become visibly angry or frustrated. While this can be difficult for the person managing the separation conversation, understand that this can be a natural response when something like this happens.

Your transitioning team member will feel vulnerable, disappointed, out of control and likely embarrassed, ashamed and maybe even attacked, all of these feelings can lead to a surge of anger and frustration – at the company, the person who is telling them and themselves.

Fear and uncertainty

Very soon, these feelings can give way to fear and uncertainty. Thoughts like “What am I going to do next?” “How will I provide for my family?” “What happens when the money runs out?” can fill their head.

Keep in mind that by this stage, your transitioning employees may not be hearing much of what you are saying as there will be a lot of noise in their heads. That’s why it’s important to recap the conversation on email and outline the next steps.

Shame and self-doubt

This is where thoughts like “What is everyone going to think of me?” “How am I going to tell my family?” “They’re going to think I’m such a failure” “Who will ever hire me?” “I can’t get back into the job market at my age” start.

Shame, self-doubt and shaken confidence can be incredibly destructive if left to linger, but as an employer, you can help prevent this from happening.

The first way to do this is to assure your transitioning employee that it’s the role that is being made redundant, not them. Use personal anecdotes and examples to illustrate how you have enjoyed working with them and how much you have appreciated their work. Make them feel valued and like they have made a difference in the organisation.

The second way you can help is to offer outplacement and have a career coach there to talk to them immediately after the Separation Conversation. A career coach will help a transitioning employee work through the emotional turmoil of their redundancy and help them move forward with support and advice that will move them smoothly into their next role.

It can be a challenging road ahead for transitioning employees and you and your remaining team as you navigate back to some form of business-as-usual. Though hopefully, this insight into how your transiting employees are likely to feel, gives you an understanding of how you can best support them as they exit your company.

Need help planning a smoother career transition of your employees? Call us today on 1300 27 83 45.