Psychology of, and coaching through, redundancy

Redundancy and how our sense of psychological safety is affected be being ‘at risk’ of redundancy is top of mind this week. The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 comes into effect on Friday 6th April.

My thanks to for the following people for their contributions in this piece:

  • Dr Maddy Stevens, Reader in Organisation Transformation, Liverpool John Moores University.
  • Brian Ballantyne, guest on episode 82 of COMEBACK COACH, reflecting on his experience of being made redundant.
  • Suzette Squires, employment lawyers and Partner at Synchrony Law.


The psychology of redundancy - photos of Suzette Squire, Brian Ballantyne and Dr Maddy Stevens

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

Get the lowdown in this quick snippet from my briefing with employment law and Partner at Synchrony Law, Suzette Squires.

COMEBACK COACH – Episode 82 – An uplifting response to redundancy

The latest episode of our podcast, COMEBACK COACH is an uplifting story of how Brian Ballantyne, an ex-Amazon employee, approached gardening leave and his struggle to secure a new role. You’ll also hear Brian in a coaching session with me as we work through how he’s feeling at the half way point of his leave. Redundancy is something we don’t speak enough about yet most of us will experience it. Brian offers such a hopeful lens on a difficult time and you can listen in full on Apple, Spotify and our website.



How psychological Safety is affected by being at risk of redundancy

Redundancy is an experience that seriously impacts a person’s sense of psychological safety and last year I read an excellent piece in The Psychologist – that’s the magazine for members of one of my professional bodies, The British Psychological Society – about the psychological consequences of redundancy. Dr Madeline Stevens wrote the piece and she’s a Reader in Organisational Transformation who teaches on the Human Resource Management programme at Liverpool John Moores University. In the piece she talks about the impact of redundancy announcements in the context of Timothy Clarks’ four stages of psychological safety. Here’s an extract that I hope is useful to as someone who might be going through the redundancy process:

Redundancies impact people at the basic level of physiological needs such as food, water, warmth and rest. It’s a significant psychological shock. The moment an employee is informed that their role is at risk of redundancy the fight or flight stress response will manifest with the release of hormones that will increase the heart rate, blood pressure and rate of breathing. The impact is immediate and does not only realise if and when an employee loses their job. Employers therefore need to adopt a more proactive approach in how they manage the implementation of redundancies, actively working to re-establish employee levels of psychological safety. The detection point of jeopardy for employers should be that being ‘at risk of redundancy’ alone has a severely negative psychological impact on individuals. I consider the impact of redundancy announcements in the context of Timothy Clarke’s 4 Stages of Psychological Safety.

Stage 1 – Inclusion Safety: In this stage, employees experience a connection with other employees through a sense of belonging. Redundancy announcements could lead to employees questioning their own unique attributes and contribution to the organisation.

Stage 2 – Learner Safety. When an employee is in this stage, they feel safe to embrace learning by asking questions and giving and receiving feedback. When employees feel that their jobs are at risk, they are more likely to be protective of their knowledge and more reluctant to experiment and drive innovation. Asking questions to drive learning will be limited as employees will be reluctant to demonstrate any perceived weaknesses in their own knowledge and skills.

Stage 3 – Contributor Safety: At this stage, psychological safety is established through employees being safe enough to use their skills and abilities to make a meaningful contribution. During redundancy situations, employees are more reluctant to share their contributions and work to their full potential due to feeling organisational betrayal as the psychological contract has been breached and the trust relationship damaged.

Stage 4 – Challenger Safety during this stage employees drive continuous improvement by challenging the status quo. Feelings of job insecurity and low self esteem caused by redundancy announcements have a negative impact on employees’ confidence.


How employers can support ‘survivors’ of a redundancy process

Snippet from end of COMEBACK COACH episode 82 – the podcast for people returning to work after a break – with Dr Maddy Stevens, Reader in Organisation Transformation.


Coaching for colleagues affected by redundancy

We are a team of coaching psychologists and executive coaches skilled in supporting the professional performance of wellbeing of employees in times of change. Contact us on +44 (0)1727 856169 and e-mail to start a conversation with us about what’s happening in your team and how we can help.