Unfortunately, this vital aspect of a downsizing effort is too often overlooked amidst the general chaos of the situation: how the survivors are holding up.
After the last desk is cleared out, employers are left with the daunting task of motivating a group of staffers with a wide range of negative emotions. Do it wrong, and you may never get your survivors back to the level they were performing at pre-layoff. But these tactics can go a long way toward rebuilding your staffers’ morale and productivity.
A survivor game plan. Before any layoffs take place, have a plan that addresses how the changes will affect survivors. Explain why the cuts were necessary, and how roles and responsibilities will be altered moving forward.
Also, if possible, be sure to outline your firm’s long-term recovery plan (if employees know what’s expected, it will be easier to achieve goals).
Let them do the talking. Downsizing survivors often have emotions that run the gamut from confusion to guilt to anger. Listening and letting them vent is a key moving on. Positive body language — strong eye contact, appropriate gestures (head nodding), etc. — conveys the message that you’re really listening, and you truly care what they have to say.
Keep their trust. Employees will naturally be defensive and standoffish following layoffs. Remembering these three guidelines can help maintain your staffers’ trust:
- show concern
- be straightforward and honest about updates, and
- achieve outlined goals.
Anticipate additional training. As survivors fill the gaps left by laid-off employees, it’s important to be a step ahead. Having detailed training plans (created as far in advance as possible) makes the transition much smoother.