Layoffs are a necessary evil it's true, sometimes they can even be good for a company's morale. But let's get real, a highly visible RIF can really put a company through the ringer. You've implemented this tough decision, directed your employees through it, and now it's time for some damage control.
Don't ignore the problem. Going on like it's just another day at the office can exacerbate any guilt, anxiety or uncertainty your current workforce may be experiencing. Yes, they still have their jobs but that doesn't mean they aren't affected, not by a long shot. There's even something called "layoff survivor syndrome”.
So what is the quickest, healthiest way BACK to business as usual?
Outplacement. But not just any outplacement.
There are three interested parties involved here, employees, former employees and the company. Virtual outplacement services benefit everyone involved in a layoff. From the perspective of the existing employees, it helps repair the damage to workplace morale. Sometimes co-workers see one another more often than they see their own families. Those not transitioned out of the organization want to know their colleagues will be okay. By offering your former employee(s) a virtual outplacement service, your organization is also offering your existing employees piece of mind, which results in a more positive existing workplace.
For former employees, this can be a very scary time. By offering outplacement services, you are essentially offering them a safety net. You're telling them that they matter to the company, and you are getting them help. This action only helps to build a positive company image, and in turn a magnet for top talent. Treating former and current employees well is right and classy move.
Treat Your Employees Fairly
The remaining employees are undoubtedly going to have to take on more work and more responsibilities. Yes, this is just part of life, but so is fair compensation. If you expect more work from those remaining, you need to give them more, both in the way of gratitude and monetary compensation. It's not only the right thing to do, it's a great retention strategy, at a time you need one most.
At a time when they’re feeling the lowest, middle management must perform at their best. Although the company appears to be in a state of chaos, managers should act calm, confident and in control. It is their job to begin allocating tasks, confirming work objectives, making sure people stay focused on appropriate tasks, and pulling together a new team.
Let your employees know what is going on. Very often, one string of layoffs doesn't cut the mustard. Even if the initial cuts made were sufficient, your employees might still be feeling some anxiety about being the next to go. Communicate with your team early and often about how the business is doing. Having a floor full of nervous, distracted employees doesn't help anyone. Be judicious about how much you share however, some employees might jump the gun in looking for another job, driving productivity to a halt.
Show Your Appreciation
More will be expected of your employees in a time of low morale, let them know that you appreciate them. Obviously, if you're conducting layoffs, there isn't a lot of money to go around, so make your gestures small, genuine and personalized. By getting some input on rewards programs, you are more likely to get participation. More importantly, the programs and rewards are less likely to be viewed as a ploy or desperate act on your part. And don't forget, like smiles, credit and recognition are free. Dole out credit where it's due and make sure your top performers know they are appreciated and acknowledged.
Keep Your Own Status in Mind
If you've just taken part in a layoff, maybe you should leave the Benz at home. There's a stigma around those that have had to make the tough decision to implement layoffs. Expensive lunches, luxury cars and suits that cost more than a month's salary won't be well received by those remaining employees. If you are part of the team managing a tough layoff or several RIFs, ensure that you stay sensitive to outward appearances in the weeks leading up to and following these activities.