Tuesday, January 1, 2013

8 Tips For Supporting Retained Employees After Layoffs

Engaging survivors is key to successfully downsizing a workforce. Failing to support survivors is proven to lead to low motivation, loss of productivity, and a decrease in performance. Survivor disengagement leads to an increased staff turnover, causing companies to hire new staff, negating the cost saving intentions of layoffs in the first place. Having highly engaged employees is key to successful downsizing. Follow these tips for keeping survivors engaged. 

1. Preplan - Start the downsizing process by considering all your options to avoid downsizing1. Include staff in your look for a solution. Ask them what they need for the company to be successful.

2. Create career development plans - Meet with individual staff to create career development plans. Understand what motivates each employee; what he or she truly values in life and work. Support them to create a plan to journey towards their career goals. Having staff invested in their future helps your company meet your needs of a diversely skilled work force2.

3. Treat those being laid off with dignity and respect - This reassures survivors that if they must leave in the future, they will be treated in the same manor. It reduces their fear and anxiety over the future3, as well as encourages them to stay with the company4.

4. Address survivor guilt - Survivors can be plagued by worry about the future, guilt over surviving the cut, increased stress about the increased workload, and their skill gaps5. This overall leads to lower morale, productivity, and performance, as well as higher staff turnover6. Address this through one on one coaching. Allow each staff to process the transition in their own way as they move toward understanding their new identity within the company7.

5. Recognize accomplishments - Celebrate small wins for the company; how the downsizing is fulfilling its goals. Also celebrate the achievements of staff; when they reach part of their goals, complete training, etc. Acknowledging their accomplishments and how they ultimately make your company stronger boosts morale and the staff's commitment to their personal career development goals and loyalty to the company2.

6. Communicate transparently - Update staff frequently on how the company is doing through newsletters, reports, emails, staff meetings, etc. Encourage them to give you feedback on what they need to do their job more effectively. Use multiple avenues such as feedback surveys, group planning sessions, one on one coaching, etc5.

7. Provide strong leadership - Survivors need help to focus on the most important things they can do for the company and themselves in order to succeed in the time of transition2. They require clear communication on the expected outcome and empowerment to reach and even exceed those expectations. Also, don't forget the need for honest communication and recognition for moving towards and reaching expectations.

8. Create an environment for highly motivated employees to succeed - Have the systems (policies and procedures), as well as the strategies (career development planning, cross training, leadership) in place for people to tap into their internal motivation and talents for being highly engaged employees2.

Miranda Vande Kuyt is a self-employed project and communications consultant. She is also the facilitator of the "Look Before You Leap: Self-Employment Survival Strategies" online course through www.LifeStrategies.ca.

End Notes:

1 Weber, Liz. (2009, March 20) Managing Layoffs With Dignity. Retrieved from http://www.smartbiz.com/article/articleview/2516/1/8/

2 Discover Winning Ways. (2009, April 15) Outplacement – Managing the Survivors After the Layoff. Retrieved from http://www.discoverwinningways.com/outplacement-layoff

3 Oliver, Karen. (n.d.) Outplacement Services – Part II. Retrieved from http://www.dbmgulf.com/articles/dbm_articles2.htm

4 People Central, (2009, February 12) ROI for Businesses Using Outplacement & Career Transition Services Retrieved from http://www.peoplecentral.co.nz/outplacement/roi-for-businesses-using-outplacement-career-transition-services/

5 Oliver, Karen. (n.d.) Outplacement Services – Part III. Retrieved from http://www.dbmgulf.com/articles/dbm_articles3.htm

6 CallMe!. (2011, April 26) 5 Steps to Overcome “Survivor Syndrome”: managing Employee Productivity in the Wake of Layoffs & Restructuring Retrieved from http://iq.callme.io/2011/04/26/5-steps-to-overcome-survivor-syndrome-managing-employee-productivity-in-the-wake-of-layoffs-restructuring/

7 Trevor-Roberts, Edwin. (2008) Outplacement Myths. Retrieved from http://www.aim.com.au/DisplayStory.asp?ID=653