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Downsizing Survivors: Motivating the Remaining Employees After Layoffs

Manage Change During Downsizing and Layoffs With Grace and Understanding


Downsizing Survivors: Motivating the Remaining Employees After Layoffs

When You Do Layoffs, You Need to Pay Close Attention to Your Remaining Employees

Christopher Steer / iStockphoto

More Ways to Demonstrate That You Value the Layoff Survivors in a Downsizing

Re-look at the goals and resolutions you set this year. (See The Awesome Power of Goal Setting: Ten Tips for Triumph.) Make certain your daily tasks are focused, like a laser beam, on tasks that support the accomplishment of the most important goals.

Just when you need people to step up, help out, improve work processes, and provide astonishing customer service, your layoff survivors are feeling most battered. Anything you can do to help them feel and see their value is a plus for you, as the employer, and a plus for them, as valued contributors.

Focus on Career Development and Building Self-Esteem for Layoff Survivors in a Downsizing

The people who report to you are worried for various reasons. Some layoff survivors are worried that they don’t have the knowledge and skills necessary to do their new or expanded jobs. In one of my client companies, the warehouse manager expressed to me her fear that she did not have the knowledge she needed to manage the new automated equipment. More of a concern to me, was her belief that she did not have the ability to learn the new skills.

Some people are worried about having the time and energy to step up to the larger challenge. Some are concerned that there is just so much to do.

This is an excellent time for a career development discussion with each of the people who report to you. Identify the additional training, resources and support they feel they need, and provide it if possible. Some people will feel passed over during the downsizing; they must be assured of their value.

Help each individual feel as if the skills they have or are obtaining will make them highly marketable so they experience self-security and high self-esteem. In both the value discussion and the career development discussion, your goal is to help people feel confident that they have the capacity to contribute, to grow and develop, and to master the changed work environment.

Don’t Forget Trust and Emotions After Downsizing

You will need to work to restore trust. It is damaged. Whether it is the larger picture from the company or losing a valued colleague during the layoffs, regardless of the relationship, trust is injured. First, recognize that people are experiencing a loss. People will grieve even if they recognize the changes are good for them and the organization for the long term.

When people have worked together, regardless of the relationship or perceived contribution, they will experience the loss of their coworkers. You must allow them time and space to deal with anger, loss and denial. You will even have some people who feel guilty that they were chosen to remain after the layoffs. Recognize the gamut of emotions people, including yourself, will experience. Cut yourself and the people you support some slack as you all say good-bye to the past, and commit to the future.

See more about how employees respond to change following layoffs.

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