We find ourselves in an economic client of uncertainty, instability, and complexity. All too common right now are layoffs, restructuring, and noticeable reduction-in-force (RIF).
These RIF’s began to emerge in the third quarter of 2022 and continue to flood in as we move into the second quarter of 2023. Companies and learning news outlets were just recently talking nonstop about the great resignation or the unprecedented turnover that companies were facing as employees left for better positions, salaries, etc., yet, now companies are face-planting right into the great reset.
The pain of this reset is beginning to be felt deep within organizations as the surviving employees are now overwhelmed with feelings of uneasiness and mistrust from their leaders and their organizations. The workplace can be a place of guilt, anxiety, and stress due to increased workloads and dysfunction as morale plummets.
The key for organizations after a layoff is for managers to boost morale and focus on these four activities:
- Communicate. Communicate. Just because it has been a few weeks or even a month since the layoff, it’s a great idea to circle back to the reasons for the layoff. Be transparent, ensure those remaining truly understand why the layoff occurred, and listen to their concerns. Be as transparent as you possibly can by answering their concerns and questions. Even if the answer is, “I don’t know.”
- Reassure The Employees. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, such as “there will not be any more layoffs,” but address the anxiety and uncertainty that your employees are feeling. Take the time to assure them they are valued, and that the contributions they are making are appreciated and noticed. This doesn’t have to cost money with an over-the-top recognition program. Thank your team members in a meeting or write a personal thank you letter.
- Focus on the Team. Bring the team together to address work concerns and workloads. Do your best to reduce feelings of confusion about work responsibilities and critical tasks. What needs to come off the team’s plate, and what should be the priorities? Make extra time to bring the team together, even virtually, for team-building activities and a safe place for team members to express their overall fears.
- Rebuild the Trust. It doesn’t matter how well you executed the layoff; trust is diminished after a RIF. Taking the time to communicate and listen will begin the process of rebuilding team trust. Be sympathetic to their concerns and frustrations. While it may be easier to simply say, “Okay. Let’s get back to work.” It may take some longer to get past the grief and loss they experience during a layoff. Give your team members space to process and rebuild trust by talking about the future and your vision with them in it.