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Breaking bad news: It's what you do and the way that you do it

Few tasks are as challenging as breaking bad news to staff about redundancies, but in the current economic cycle it's something that many organisations have had to deal with. The burden of a 'redundancy envoy' or 'teller' can be a heavy one indeed, knowing that the loss of a job can be a devastating blow. Beyond the obvious loss of pay, for some employees a redundancy could also mean the loss of cherished friendships, of identity, self-worth and pride.

In a new video about Redundancy handling released by Acas, employment relations experts give practical advice to help managers through the difficult, and often emotional, process of downsizing. Adrian Wakeling, Acas senior guidance editor, said that the role of teller could be thankless and emotionally draining, and that the reward for not 'messing it up' was often just being asked to do it again.

He urged employers to support the development of 'soft management skills' and to acknowledge that 'the way you do things is as important as what you're doing'. Having emotional intelligence and a good understanding of the way people are interacting will make it easier for line managers to treat employees receiving bad news with dignity and respect. He said, 'Tough times may produce tough leaders, but for organisations to thrive in the future, they also need a great deal of sensitivity.'

Acas has a wealth of resources to help employers and managers on all aspects of Redundancy. Acas also provides practical training on Having difficult conversationsManaging change as well as Skills for supervisors.

The Acas Helpline can give advice about avoiding redundancy and redundancy procedures. Call 0300 123 1100 for free, impartial advice.

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