Nurture layoff survivors
Written by: Renée LeMoine
Photo by: V&V
“Our mother company is going through a process of reorganization and downsizing. Most of the employees in the Czech branch have survived the cuts, buy my staff is still shaken from the experience.
Recent research shows that staff who survive layoffs suffer as much, if not more, trauma than employees who are let go. Those who are fired get a chance to start over fresh in a new job, while the remaining staff must sort through the rubble of changes and rebuild within the confines of a scared corporate culture. Therefore, remaining employees will also feel anxiety, frustration, and loss. As a manager, you need to nurture your staff back to health by implementing procedures that will help set a new and more positive direction.
- Make the cuts understandable and rapid. When cutting staff is necessary, warn them in advance that changes are coming. Provide them with sufficient information as to why, when, where, and how it will happen. Keep your door open, be frank, honest, and prepare to sooth out of control emotions. Be open with all the staff at all times.
- Be empathetic while the surviving staff grieves. Survivors must let their anger and repressed feelings go so that they can move on. Take a leading role in organizing constructive sessions where teams have the opportunity to release pent up opinions and frustration, and to seek solutions for redirecting their energies. Avoid overindulgence of bitterness by concentrating on seeking solutions for bringing vibrant changes that staff will welcome.
- Break employee’s dependency on the organization. Today’s workplace should require employees to build transferable skills. Encourage staff to start thinking about their long-term career, including paying for their own training courses in addition to those offered by the company. The more people are willing to invest into themselves, the more independent and confident they will become.
- Create new corporate procedures to eliminate dependency. Firms should consider detaching themselves from such paternalistic practices as seniority systems for promotions and rewards, loyalty expectations, and long-term socialization processes designed to shape people into “corporate types”.
Article prepared by Renée LeMoine, Executive Director, LeMoine & Associates