More than 770 000 employees in South Africa have been made redundant since the start of the economic crisis in the third quarter of 2008. Unfortunately, companies often do not anticipate, or prepare for, the lower morale and lower productivity experienced by the survivors. However, despite the fact that retrenchment survivors are the linchpin of a company‟s future profitability, limited research on their experiences is available in South Africa. Until recently, the survivors of retrenchment were considered fortunate and the general consensus is that survivors are grateful to have kept their jobs. But is it really that simple? The study explores the perceptions and experiences of survivors of retrenchment in the automotive industry. The study was conducted among retrenchment survivors operating at junior management, middle management and senior management roles in various functional areas in an Automotive Manufacturer in South Africa. Qualitative data was collected by means of conducting semi-structured interviews, which provided insight into the beliefs, attitudes, perceptions and experiences of the participants, as well as by the analysis of company documents. Following an in-depth analysis based on constructivist grounded theory guidelines, survivor denial in varied manifestations emerged as the core concept. This core concept was underpinned by the survivors‟ overall perception of the retrenchment experience, the affective and behavioural responses of survivors, as well some aggravating factors. The result of the analysis is a framework for understanding survivor experiences during retrenchments, as well as suggested interventions for organisations that are contemplating, or have already commenced with retrenchments to reduce the anticipated negative effects of the retrenchment process. This study demonstrates that retrenchment brings to the fore a multitude of inadequately understood emotional reactions and that, if retrenchment is not properly implemented and managed, can result in a significant amount of stress. Appropriate analysis of individual responses and the facilitation of constructive coping strategies is the starting point towards more effective intervention. Copyright
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2012.