Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Publication date: 1 January 1973


It is suggested that, although accurate data is hard to come by, it is possible that redundancy amongst industrial executives is important because of its rate of incidence and the stress which it apparently can cause. This article is concerned primarily with the particular type of redundancy which results from an employee experiencing difficulty in successfully performing his job. In order to learn how to alleviate stress caused by this type of redundancy,it is suggested that we study other types of employees who have long been subject to redundancy and for whom it no longer poses such a threat. Such workers are often found in creative jobs, amongst some highly skilled professionals, and amongst those holding jobs requiring them to be very physically active. From studies of such individuals it is suggested that less stress is experienced by those who expect to be made redundant and also by those who find themselves in situations where they have little option and are forced to accept a high degree of change in their skills, abilities or values. If it was possible to predict redundancy then it would follow that much of the current anxiety could be removed from the situation by means of careful individual preparation. However, although the funtional areas most likely to be affected by redundancy are fairly clear, it is suggested that it is at the moment impossible for a variety of reasons to predict to any high degree of accuracy any single individual's likelihood of being made redundant. However, this inability to predict accurately is hardly an excuse for the questionable behaviour of most of the United Kingdom organizations when they are faced with having to divest themselves of some staff. Faced with such situations, organizations nearly always indulge in behaviour which has unwelcome effects both to the individuals concerned and upon the organization itself. Since these short‐term reactions are so dangerous and inadequate and since long‐term prediction of individual redundancy is so difficult, the only fair alternative is to prepare all who are at all likely to be affected by redundancy from as early a date as possible. The aims behind such a policy would be that the organization might have more information upon which to base its choice as to whom to make redundant and the individuals concerned should have as much opportunity as possible to choose their own courses of action. Four major steps are required in order to reach this state. Firstly, provision has to be made in the financial area, primarily through the re‐introduction of the concept of the explicit financial contract. Secondly, there needs to be the introduction of counselling of executives which would take into account their total life environment and not just their situation at work. Thirdly, there needs to be much greater provision of information about alternative sources of employment both within and without the organization. And fourthly, the concept of the ‘halfway house’ which has proved itself so useful in preparing employees for retirement, should be extended to encompass as well those who are likely to be faced with a change of career. Leaving the organization should not be a short sharp step any more than getting promotion is a short sharp step. It has to be prepared for on both the individual and the organization's sides. It is clearly difficult — this does not mean that it can be ignored.


Williams, R. and Sneath, F. (1973), "A SUITABLE CASE FOR TREATMENT—THE REDUNDANT EXECUTIVE", Personnel Review, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 52-61. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb055224

Download as .RIS




Copyright © 1973, MCB UP Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.