In a perfect world, companies would never have to downsize or reconfigure their operations. But in order to remain competitive and continue growing, restructurings or any type of organizational change are often inevitable — even for industry juggernauts.
Just because companies downsize doesn’t mean they’re getting ready to shut their doors completely. As a matter of fact, it is quite the contrary: companies usually let workers go because their positions don’t align with the organization’s long-term goals and strategies — or because they’re short on cash and need to reduce their expenses to stay in business.
Unfortunately, after massive layoffs, companies still have jobs to do. So do the folks who remain employed.
But oftentimes, employees who survive downsizing lose a lot of motivation. Maybe their best friend at work didn’t make the cut. Maybe they begin to worry about their own financial stability. Maybe they’re overwhelmed by the prospect of being drowned in even more work.
Whatever the case may be, managers need to do everything within their power to keep their employees happy in the aftermath of a mass layoff. Otherwise, productivity could grind to a halt.
While you may be tempted to announce the layoffs during a meeting and then go back to work as if it were business as usual — employees should be happy they still have a job, right? — such an approach is unlikely to encourage your staff.
Beyond that, you’ll want to be careful of immediately divvying up laid-off employees’ workloads to remaining staffers. Nearly 70% of workers already feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the week to get all of their work done, according to our Employee Engagement Report. Adding more work to their plates won’t exactly help the situation.
So How Exactly Are You Supposed to Motivate Your Staff After Sharing the Bad News?
Once you’ve informed everyone about your company’s downsizing, schedule meetings with teams or small groups to discuss everyone’s roles moving forward. Explain why the decision was made, and be ready to listen to and address all questions and concerns. Tell your workers why they made the cut by recognizing the strengths they bring to the team.
You have to understand that no matter how they appear on the outside, chances are your employees will be torn on the inside. Be as empathetic as possible to their needs, and thank them for sticking around through what’s sure to be a difficult process.
Focus on the positives whenever you can. Sure, your company is restructuring. But perhaps if you didn’t, everyone would lose their jobs eventually. Or maybe your company is downsizing because it’s getting ready to make an exciting investment.
Above all else, be courteous and gracious. The last thing you want is to come across as someone who doesn’t care. Remember, layoffs put workers who support their families in a very precarious place. The more you convey the fact that you understand that, the more likely your workers will be to hop onboard with the restructuring.
Nobody wants to let people go due to downsizing. But for a number of reasons, these decisions are unavoidable at most companies. If you find your organization heading toward layoffs, it’s critical that you do your due diligence to figure out the best way to share the news. Otherwise, you risk losing all of your workers — even the ones who remain employees.