Turn That Frown Upside Down: Motivating Employees after Downsizing

Posted by Jaylyn Schumpert

Rumors of layoffs have been going around your office for weeks, and everyone is on edge. Today is the day and at 5 o’clock you will be doing one of two things: getting ready for the next work day or packing up your personal belongings and joining the unemployment line. The end of the day arrives and you dodge the bullet; you will be returning to work the next day. Now what? Are you worried that this is only round one of the layoffs and that future downsizing will cost you your job? Has your morale and motivation level taken a hit due to the stress associated with the layoffs?

Corporate downsizing is nothing new; companies have been doing it for 20+ years. However, over the last few years, with all of the economic uncertainty, it seems that more companies have had to turn to this unfortunate tactic to stay in business. Downsizing and employee layoffs can evoke a number of emotions in an organization’s workforce: anger, disappointment, fear, sadness, anxiousness, and even relief. So how can an organization deal with these emotions and still motivate remaining employees after the downsizing has taken place?

The most effective way to calm employee fear is to address employee concerns head-on through honest communication. Let employees know about the downsizing up front and the impact that it will have on the organization. Although open communication is the most effective, here are 7 equally effective measures that an organization and managers can use to boost employee motivation and employee productivity after downsizing:

  1. Review your company’s downsizing plan and be able to clearly articulate the organization’s decisions and reasons for those decisions.
  2. Create or adjust staffing plans to ensure adequate coverage of duties and responsibilities. Utilize suggestions from top performing employees on how to maintain performance and productivity levels.
  3. Establish a communication strategy that will keep employees informed of any additional changes including organizational structure. Organize all-staff meetings or hold individual conferences so that employees can voice concerns and ask questions.
  4. Research, research, research. Read professional journals, magazines, blogs, etc. to find out how other companies and leaders are handling, or have handled, the effects of downsizing. Focus specifically on ways to maintain employee morale.
  5. Explore ways that you can motivate or reward employees without blowing the budget. Reassess benefit costs and determine if the smaller workforce size will allow you to offer a better benefits package or find other ways to say “thank you” for the hard work of the remaining employees.
  6. Model the behavior and attitude you want your employees to emulate. Organizational leaders need to behave in a way that discourages low employee morale.
  7. Implement an open-door policy throughout the organization. Although this is a good policy to have in place at all times, it is especially important following a layoff. Open lines of communication will minimize gossip and any misconceptions employees may have regarding job security.

Downsizing is difficult on all employees at every level of an organization. It is crucial for organizations to reassure remaining employees that it is business as usual and to find ways to maintain, or even strengthen, employee morale.

For more information please visit www.smartmovesinc.com or contact us at (800) 700-6507.