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Managing Your Retained Employees After a Layoff
In this uncertain global economic climate companies are forced to make tough decisions to stay afloat, including layoffs. As someone who has witnessed layoffs firsthand, it's clear that there is no easy way or right time to do it, and the consequences affect not only outgoing employees but also those who remain.
After a layoff, attention understandably turns to the departing employees, but the remaining employees are often overlooked. Those who remain may feel a mix of emotions, including anxiety about their own roles and sadness for their former colleagues. They may also be concerned about the stability of the company and its organizational structure.
Studies have shown that productivity can decline among retained employees after a layoff, and they may also lose trust in the company. However, employees who have access to senior leadership or their managers tend to experience less anxiety, guilt, and anger, and their productivity remains stable.
Therefore, it's crucial for leaders to step up and help employees deal with survivor guilt and maintain productivity.
Acknowledge and communicate the truth as much as possible
Avoid sugarcoating during a crisis. If you don't know if there will be more layoffs, don't make promises. Keep it real.
Encourage proactive communication
Prevent rumors from spreading by communicating regularly with your employees. Be transparent about the reasons for downsizing and the steps being taken to support outgoing employees. When employees are confident about the company's future, they are more likely to remain productive.
Encourage two-way communication
Provide a safe space for employees to ask questions and share concerns. Address ambiguities honestly and transparently. Open discussions help employees feel more confident about the company's and their own future.
Ensure outgoing employees are treated with respect
Treat departing employees with dignity and respect. Fulfill commitments, such as severance packages and references, to mitigate survivor guilt among retained employees.
Respect outgoing employees
Avoid speaking negatively about former colleagues. Show that the company values all employees, and that they will be treated fairly if they were ever laid off.
In summary, communicate proactively and honestly during a crisis, create a safe space for retained employees, and treat them with empathy and respect. By taking these steps, leaders can help retain employees' trust, confidence, and productivity during difficult times.
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