Clear communication is important when an organisation undergoes any major change or has to make a difficult decision.
Seek legal and auditors’ advice as soon as you can. It’s vitally important to seek this support to know what your options are before any decisions are made. Your Local Authority might be able provide this pro bono.
Communication with the workforce
Consult and inform the whole workforce before going public with any news.
Understand what the things are you are telling staff and volunteers about – e.g. processes, timescales, anything that is not negotiable - record what information has been shared.
Where can the staff and volunteers have an opportunity to input/ be involved – for example, the way some things might happen, any work to capture the story of the organisation, place and people before closing.
Be open about why the decision has been made to close.
If you are a large organisation, the role of line managers is crucial in communication as is staff and volunteers' experience of the process – so make sure your line managers are well-informed and supported.
Avoid an ‘us and them’ situation – governing body vs workforce; employed staff vs volunteers.
Understanding the Kubler Ross Change Curve (similar to the grief cycle) will help with recognising and responding to the different reactions people will have to the information you are communicating.
Ensure you are aware of your organisation’s Redundancy Policy, if you have one. If you will be making employees redundant you should take advice as early as possible.
Redundancy is not just about following the process but, as best as you can, giving staff practical and emotional support to help them move on. (PACE can help with this but you will know your own workforce best.)
It may be a time-consuming process.
Be mindful of treating people fairly and consistently, and don’t disadvantage anyone who may be on furlough, off sick or on maternity/parental leave.
Although volunteers will not go through a formal redundancy process it is still important to support them well. For many people their volunteering work may play a significant role in their life, skills and wellbeing. Recognising and valuing their contribution will help support them as individuals and also influence your local community’s experience and support.
There is some information around support for volunteers and handling difficult situations in our Volunteer Toolkit. Volunteer Scotland may be able to offer further advice and support.
Case Study - Abott House
Supporting people through a museum closure - Abbot House, Dunfermline
If a museum or heritage site has to close, doing something like this [video] which captures the story of the place and the people who are giving it their all is a great thing to do. Everyone said it helped them so much, and is lovely to look back on. It literally helped to give 'closure' as well as capturing a moment and a family of volunteers.
Catherine Gillies - Former Heritage Director of Abbot House