Firing someone 'as stressful as being fired'

Jan 13 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Sacking an employee can be a hugely stressful experience for the boss doing the firing as much as for the employee, with managers often suffering sleepless nights as a result, a survey has found.

The study by interim management firm Alexander Hughes reported that 60 per cent of senior managers had had to fire staff over the past two years without being trained in how to do it.

Four out of 10 felt their health and family life had suffered as a result, and one in eight had experienced stress that affected their work.

More than a third of the 200 or so managers questioned felt stressed and worried as a result of the redundancy/change management programmes they have had to undertake, with more than 44 per cent having received no prior training.

A total of 37 per cent enjoyed their job less as a result with 12 per cent believing this had affected their ability to do their job properly.

The results of the research were even higher among those senior managers questioned who had not yet undertaken any redundancy programmes but expected to have to do so in the near future.

A total of 71 per cent of senior managers and directors admitted they would be upset if they had to take the lead in making people redundant.

Gavan Burden, managing director at AHIM advised hiring outsiders, such as interim managers, who did not have the same "emotional baggage" to carry out such sackings.

"There seems to be increasing support for the belief that the economy is still in decline, so companies will now be turning their thoughts to cost savings and rationalisation programmes," he said.

"However some seem to be failing to appreciate the affect that this can have on their senior managers.

"At AHIM we are seeing an increase in the use of interim managers for this kind of work as candidates are experienced, do not have any personal history with any of the employees and can leave when the programme is successfully completed," he added.