Redundancy Hrm

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Abstract Downsizing has been a common cost-cutting activity for organisations in the last 25 years. Literature in this area has focused mainly on the effects that redundancy may have on people leaving the organisation. However, some research has investigated the effect it may have on the employees who were not made redundant, and from this the concept of 'Survivor Syndrome' was created. It has been established that redundancy processes result in negative emotions being felt by survivors, such as less job satisfaction, mistrust in the organisation, less pride in the organisation and they feel that the organisation is not supporting them as much. These are just a few of the symptoms that have been associated with the syndrome. However, some research has suggested that Survivor syndrome is a myth, or can be prevented. This study presents the findings of a company-based study, in which employees opinions and emotions were investigated prior to and post-redundancies. It argues that symptoms of survivor syndrome are present in employees after the downsizing process has occurred, and that it is more prominent in non-managerial employees than in managers within the organisation. The study suggests that the way in which the organisation rolls out the process of redundancies, and the way in which employees are treated, both those remaining within the company and those leaving, can result in these negative emotions being felt. This suggests that effective management of employees during the process and after can decrease the likelihood that survivor syndrome will be present within the organisation, and Corus and other organisations going through similar situations should utilise methods that are recommended in order to help avoid the syndrome occurring.

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1. Introduction There has been an increasing amount of research in recent years examining the effect of downsizing and redundancies on those employees who remain within the organisations after redundancies have taken place. Downsizing is defined as 'a deliberate organisational decision to reduce the workforce size and to change working practices, in order to improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the organisation' (Freeman & Cameron, 1993), and has been described as 'probably the most pervasive yet understudied phenomenon in the business world' (Cameron, 1994). This is a particularly relevant subject due to the current economic climate, and the large number of organisations that have had to partake in downsizing due to the recession. 'The number of organisations and jobs affected by redundancy in Britain is staggering' according to Campbell, Worrall and Cooper (2000), and this figure will have only increased since the start of the recession, as evidenced by the 22 million people in Europe who were unemployed in July 2009, 5 million more than the year before 'and it is highly likely that the full force of the recession has yet to fully impact on the labour market' (Hurley et al, 2009). The statistics that are available are behind the situation slightly, due to the time it takes to collect the data, and the fact that the situation is constantly changing. A Quality of Working Life Survey conducted by UMIST and the Institute of Management measured the extent of organisational change occurring in the UK over three years, and it found that there had been a 8% increase in organisational change, and a 3% rise in redundancy because of this (Campbell, Worrall and Cooper, 2000). An increase in redundancies can also be due to the constant technological advances (Rifkin, 1999). Britain was found to suffer more job losses than any other country in the EU in 2008, according to Eurofound (Hurley et al, 2009). In a study of 1000 human resource and finance professionals conducted by Mercer in 2008, it was found that 35% of the organisations were expecting to make large-scale cuts in their workforce (Pitcher, 2008). Pitcher (2008) found evidence showing that the production and...
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