With employment news hitting the headlines again it is appropriate to reflect on how people are affected when their jobs are at risk or when relationships – usually between those in charge and those who work for them – break down.

  • Today, the army has told 38 people their jobs will end in 12 months time – and it has done so by email. The army’s assistant general chief of staff and the government have apologised for the unacceptable way in which they broke the news to the long-serving soldiers.
  • This week, the RAF announced that about 50 of its trainee pilots could face redundancy and that it will not take any new students next year, ending the careers of people whose hopes seemed built on strong foundations, and disappointing others who had seen a positive future.
  • Throughout this month, widespread media coverage has been given to the fact that the future of our libraries is at risk, potentially putting thousands of librarians out of work.
  • And, again this month, the long-running dispute at British Airways filled more column inches when its recent ballot was declared unlawful, creating more uncertainties for cabin crew whose jobs are under threat.

These high profile cases have attracted sympathy from the public; there is a collective understanding of the disappointment, frustrations and irritations those affected must feel. But, for most people whose jobs are unsatisfactory or at risk, or whose relationships at work have deteriorated, there is no guarantee of understanding from anyone; their bosses, colleagues, family, friends might be too preoccupied by their own work or home lives to provide support.

At work, the highs and lows reverse: when morale dips and motivation wanes, production falls and absenteeism rises. Diffidence increases, tensions heighten, commitment slumps. Managers might not be equipped to manage these new situations or ask for help; respect for them dissipates; their achievements come under closer scrutiny – they, too, struggle to keep up the pace.

The private lives of the people whose jobs are at risk might also fall apart creating tensions, conflict, stress, a withdrawal from normal life and perhaps a drift into risky behaviour.

Professional advice – coaching, counselling, mentoring, mediation, training – can help individuals, individually or in teams, by building confidence, inspiring people, reducing conflict. It can also create a business shift – providing strategic advice on workplace policies, building skills for handling difficult situations or people, devising policies and practices that engender focus, build confidence, strengthen leadership and reshape the corporate culture.

In all four examples highlighted above, professional support and advice could create huge positive shifts for the people – and for the organisations – involved.