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What the marriage debate can teach companies about redundancy.

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I recently witnessed one of the many water-cooler debates that occurred around the plebiscite that is currently underway in Australia to redefine marriage. Two passionate people on opposite sides of a debate, both fully convinced about the validity of their respective positions and both unlikely to change their view by reasoned argument. In such cases, where views on both sides are entrenched, there can occur a ‘dialogue of the deaf’ and in such instances where emotions have pretty much precluded any possibility of compromise or empathy with the ‘opponents’ position, the audience witnessing the exchange often inadvertently becomes the target for conversion and not the protagonists themselves. How the two parties conduct themselves in the exchange will colour their position, and like it or not, they will be viewed as representatives of people that share that view. It might not be fair or accurate (generalisations and caricatures rarely are) but they do reveal something about the nature of transference.
 
Similarly, when companies are forced by economic circumstances to make difficult redundancy decisions, even though the redundant employees will undergo the actual Outplacement workshops and support, the ‘real’ audience are the employees remaining at the company. How a company treats those who, in its judgement, no longer provide an economic advantage for the company, speaks volumes about how valued the employees were as human beings and not just as economic units of production. The remaining personnel see this in real time, and it will impact on how invested they will be going forward. If a company treats the departing workers holistically and not merely one-dimensional job functions, employees are far more likely to bring their whole person with all those invaluable intangibles – creativity, initiative and passion. As one person remarked to me some years ago: ‘For 20 years they had my hands. If they had treated me with just a little care, they would have had my heart as well.’   
 

Carmen Mackrill is Principal consultant at www.ozoutplacement.com.au

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