Combating Layoff Lows
March 16, 2016
Layoffs will happen. Unfortunately, the process is unpleasant, disruptive, and affects performance and morale in a negative way. Employees can get wrapped up in feelings of uncertainty, unhappiness, and betrayal causing the company and the employees to lose focus on business goals and customer needs. This lack of focus hinders the ability of any company to rebound from a layoff and improve bottom line performance.
But Wait! There are important practices that companies can implement that have been shown to ease the burden of “layoff lows.”
In preparation of layoffs, HR and management should work together to develop a plan to handle and combat the negative impact of layoffs in the workplace.
A layoff or downsizing plan should consider the following:
- Be proactive at handling the rumor mill. Post information, use your intranet to give employees up to date details of what is happening.
- Train managers on layoff procedures, information sharing, and handling employee reactions. Clearly define management expectations during the layoffs.
- Work with your EAP. Schedule on-site counseling.
- Publicize post-layoff assistance such as career counseling, job placement assistance, severance packages, etc.
- Survey employees to find out what information they are missing and would like to know.
- Provide clear explanations of layoff criteria. All employees should perceive this as fair business practices.
- Share information and data that will support layoffs. This could include economic information, company performance results, etc.
And as if the task of layoffs wasn’t difficult enough, companies need to recognize that working with “survivors” is the most important part of the process. Survivors of layoffs are dealing with fear that they are the next to go, guilt they survived the cut, as well as frustration and anger from increased workloads. A study by the American Management Association found that 40 percent of companies reported that productivity dropped after layoffs, 18 percent reported that quality had suffered, and 58 percent said that morale had worsened.
This is not great news for companies who are looking to quickly recover from layoffs and get back to a state of normalcy in the workplace. Consider these suggestions during the layoff process to help increase recovery time:
Improving Morale During Layoffs
- Be open and honest. Use open book management as much as possible. Information is power and will help employees feel more knowledgeable about the process.
- Keep employees informed. Make executives more visible to answer questions regularly.
- Establish and communicate a clear vision for the future. Now that the layoff is over, where is the company going from here?
- Focus on communicating positive information. Acknowledge and recognize employees for good work.
- Prioritize and eliminate low priority work.
- Work hard to keep top performers. Offer incentives and developmental opportunities wherever possible.
- Utilize EAP services.
- Consider others who are impacted by the layoffs such as family members, HR, Administration. Give them special thanks for their support.
- Seek out updates to systems and technology so that the remaining employee can do more with less
- Enlist help. Consider consultants who are experienced in change management to offer some group programs where employees can discuss their feelings and fears.
To summarize, layoffs are a difficult and painful process. However, by utilizing some of the ideas listed in this article, your company can prepare for and mitigate “layoff lows” with respect and dignity for all involved.