Careers advice

Dealing with restructuring at work

Some advice on how to approach a workplace restructure.

Company restructures can be uncomfortable and destabilising experiences.

From the moment the process is announced, you’ll likely have a million questions racing through your mind as you wait to hear if the change will impact you.

While everyone deals with these situations differently, we hope the tips in this article will help you take some positive steps to dealing with restructuring at work.

How do you handle workplace restructures?

1. Know your rights

During a restructure, it’s important to understand the steps your employer should be taking in managing the process and ensuring fair treatment of all their staff.

In addition, we advise you re-read your employment agreement to establish what it says you’re entitled to if you’re made redundant.

Getting a firm grasp of this knowledge early on will help you understand what’s going on as the process progresses.

2. Seek support when you need it

Restructures are unsettling for everyone, and looking after your mental health should be among your top priorities at this time.

Some organisations might make counsellors available to employees to talk to if they’re struggling, and talking to professionals can be a great way to help you process what’s happening around you.

However, there are plenty of other people you should be able to reach out to, from your manager and colleagues to friends and family. Sometimes, you just need to vent.

Talk to your friends and family if you're finding it hard to deal with a company restructue.

3. Engage with the process

Any restructuring process in New Zealand should involve a consultation between the employer and their staff on the proposed restructuring of the organisation.

It’s really important that you attend all the restructuring meetings you’re invited to, and provide feedback on what you think of the proposal. Leaders are obliged to listen to staff suggestions and questions, and show that they’ve taken them into account, or explain why they have not.

Understandably, many employees who are told their positions are likely to be made redundant feel they can’t do anything to change this. However, good leaders will take the time to evaluate employee suggestions, including ways of restructuring that involve cutting fewer jobs.

4. Try to stay positive

This is much easier said than done, but having positive, forward-looking conversations with colleagues and managers, rather than getting defensive is the best approach.

While it's inevitable that you’ll want to talk about what’s going on with your workmates, try to avoid toxic gossiping. Instead, try to use social interactions as a way to take your mind off what’s going, even if it’s just for a minute or two – giving your brain a break is an important part of staying mentally healthy.

Engage with the restructure process and provide feedback to your manager.

5. Have a plan

Sometimes, you’ll have a good idea of how likely your role is to be impacted by a restructure, and other times you’ll have no idea. So, while the process is going on, as well as adapting to the change in your workplace, it’s good to have a backup plan.

This could involve making sure your CV and online job profile are up-to-date, reaching out to your network or even applying for jobs. This means that if you’re made redundant you’re in a good position to start searching for new opportunities.