When is the best time to notify an Employee regarding a Retrenchment?

1/6/2020, By Sze-Yen Chee

There is no perfect time to tell someone his/her job has been made redundant.

Many HR experts have differing opinions on when the notification should take place. Some prefer the start of the day, while others prefer it at the end.

It’s a delicate balancing act for HR Leaders to manage both the Corporate’s needs and the individuals’ well-being. 

The short answer to this question is “Whatever works for you”, with these exceptions:

1) Do not notify on a Friday (or the end of a workweek)

There have been cases of emotionally fragile individuals who did not take the news well and were stranded without support over the weekend. If the individual was exited on a Thursday, for instance, there’s still Friday for them to seek clarification and support from HR.

2) Do not notify on Special Days.
These could include Work Anniversaries and Birthdays. We had a client who shared that when he was invited to go to the conference room to meet his boss and HR, he thought he was going to receive a long service award as it was his 10th year anniversary. He was traumatized with an Exit notification instead.

3) Check for Significant Life Events.
Avoid notifying staff during such occasions which could include times of bereavement, pregnancy and maternity, divorce, and health issues. We had clients tell stories of being retrenched just after the death of a spouse and spiraled into depression.

4) Do not notify during Celebratory seasons.
One European company decided to retrench its staff in Singapore the week before the Chinese New Year. It was definitely a mean thing to do.

Regardless of when the notification has to take place, the thing to bear in mind is to plan well and be sensitive.

For more details on executing Employee Exits responsibly, please refer to The Exit Management Handbook.