EMPLOYMENT law experts have warned business leaders of the challenges ahead in the face of the predicted influx of redundancies during 2023, alongside shifting expectations in a changing workforce.

Research conducted earlier this year revealed that two-fifths (42%) of employers predict that they will be making redundancies during 2023. The research also found that 16% of those who identified themselves as C-suite, managing directors, or HR professionals, do not fully understand the redundancy process.

Experts at Womble Bond Dickinson, the Newcastle-based international law firm that undertook the research, have warned of how this could be perceived negatively by a less mature workforce, and the tricky relationship between trust and making tough business decisions.

Gearalt Fahy, partner and employment law expert at the firm - one of the key partners in The Northern Echo’s Level Up campaign for investment and jobs – said: “On the surface, we know that business leaders - especially those in the C-suite of large organisations - don’t need to understand the nuts and bolts behind the redundancy process and that this is the responsibility of a wider team and, often, requiring external support.

The Northern Echo: Gearalt FahyGearalt Fahy (Image: Press release)


"However, the climate that organisations are operating in needs to be considered. We’re amid a huge workforce upheaval and the pace of change and speed at which these decisions must be made is unprecedented and presents an evolving challenge.”

Gearalt also warns that businesses are not only contending with swift decision making, but a multi-generational workforce that has been exposed to a different working experience during covid, with more flexibility, hybrid working and an employment safety net through the likes of the furlough scheme. This has created a set of challenging optics.

Gearalt explained: “The impact of these decisions reverberates across the organisation and can influence staff retention and recruitment.

The Northern Echo: Join us in the Level Up campaign - ryan.fenwick@localiq.co.ukJoin us in the Level Up campaign - ryan.fenwick@localiq.co.uk (Image: Newsquest)

“There’s a balancing act as businesses need to appeal to a workforce that might have different expectations of normal working life or how their employer should behave during tough times. A lot of Gen Z employees in particular will have the support that they received during the pandemic as their only or most recent point of reference. They might expect that during tough times, there’s always going to be a safety net. For younger generations communication is key, as they may not understand the process or have the built in trust that their employer is making tough decisions because it is absolutely essential for the survival of the business.”

Read next:


Gen Z is ushering in an era of openness. They demand inclusivity, fairness, and equity, and are wary of mistreatment or inequality. A notable 60% of them believe most people are untrustworthy, valuing individual trust more than in organisations.

Gearalt says that this cultivation of trust will be essential during tough times in business. He advises: “Trust must be earned, and the Gen Z workforce will expect employers to uphold the values that they declare. This makes managing redundancies well critical for future appeal to the next generation of employees, starting with an understanding of the process you’re undertaking. Achieving this means fostering open dialogues, thoroughly adhering to proper procedures, and maintaining transparent communication channels. There’s a way of getting things done quickly, but also getting it right.”