9 Dealing with the rough stuff The big three: restructure, redundancy and dismissal

People get attached to their roles at work. Their job becomes an identity for some, and ownership for others, and for some their job may even go a long way to defining who they are. As a result, restructure, redundancy, dismissal or personal injury or illness can have a major impact on individuals due to profound feelings of grief and loss.

Psychiatrist and best-selling author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross pioneered the understanding of the stages of grief and loss for the health sector, and in many ways turned an entire culture around. Before Kübler-Ross's work, hospital staff, including doctors, were ordered to never discuss death or even the possibility of it with their patients. The results of this misguided practice, particularly for terminally ill patients, were shocking. Patients felt loneliness, frustration and a lack of humanity as they endured their last days on earth. Thankfully, Kübler-Ross's work brought about change and has made the health system significantly better for it.

Unfortunately, the corporate world still works like a 1950's hospital. We don't talk about the big three: restructure, redundancy and dismissal; we don't talk about the pain and disruption they cause — but we should. We need to map grief and loss better when people's work worlds are tipped on their head. It's time ...

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