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How to keep morale high after a layoff

Sharon Florentine | Oct. 8, 2014
Keeping your remaining employees engaged, motivated and productive after a layoff or restructuring can be a monumental task. Here's how to do it.

"In the best-case scenarios, executives would be able to say, 'That's it, we've done with layoffs.' If that's the case, then make that message clear and loud. If not, be truthful about that, too.

If there's the possibility for future layoffs, you need to make that explicit, and also talk about what conditions would necessitate any future restructuring. For instance, 'We're done for now, but if we don't meet these benchmarks, we may have to prepare ourselves for deeper cuts,'" Denaro says.

While it might seem counter-productive, that kind of honesty can help maintain loyalty and it can motivate employees to work harder towards the goal of keeping the business successful, he says.

Executives should also set specific timeframes for delivering progress reports and stick to them so employees know where the business is headed and how milestones are being met, Denaro says.

"Set company meetings on the calendar to come back and report on progress. From an employee perspective, it's crucial for them to understand not just where the business stands, but where they are and if they're in danger," he says.

The Direct Manager's Role
More so than top-level executives,  mid-level managers must deliver a message of stability and have clear, detailed plans in place for how the business will move forward and be able to communicate those plans effectively to their remaining workforce, says Denaro. This includes both higher-level, strategic plans passed down from the C-suite as well as individual career progression and succession plans for each employee, he says.

"An ideal manager during a layoff is someone who will align with the company's message, keep things organized, and ensure the junior staff is motivated and on point to work through the downturn to help the company turn it around," says Seven Step RPO's Harty. All companies go through macroeconomic downturns and restructuring, but managers are key to keeping open lines of communication with their valuable talent resources, he says.

"To employees, most managers represent the company culture. Even if they like the company, statistics show that something like 80 percent of people who voluntarily leave a job do so because of their direct manager," Denaro says. "That means these managers are an incredibly important resource to help keep great talent, even in the event of a restructuring or layoff," he says.

"The direct manager's role is to align employees' career plans with the work that needs to be done and the delivery of that work for the company as a whole so everyone can move forward," he says. "They're responsible for making sure those smaller pieces - the employees and their work - fit into the larger business strategy and align with the greater goals."


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