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Downsizing or layoffs can do a lot to not only diminish workers, but also diminish the morale of workers that get to stay. Unfortunately, downsizing is at times necessary for creating a more productive and efficient workforce that meets the demands of current business. Although the “surviving” employees initially feel relief for being on the “safe side”, eventually those feelings turn into guilt and anxiety. Suddenly they are concerned about low job security and fear of being the “next” in future downsizing episodes. Other times, what is termed as “survivor’s guilt” takes over and makes them feel bad about their good fortune which they feel they acquired at the expense of others’ employment.

Emotionally affected employees are always a cause of concern for employers because emotions affect behavior which in turn affects job performance. Employers must find ways to keep the surviving employees engaged, motivated, and productive to avoid jeopardizing remaining key talent retention. Here’s how this can be done.

Open Communication:

Surviving employees need to be reassured both during and after lay off. The more frequent the communication, the better. Let the employees know how the organization plans to pull through after downsizing and how each employee plays a key role in that recovery phase. Also, communication channels should be restructured and made simpler than they were before, to encourage two-way communication.  Personal one-to-one communication is far more effective than a one-time, comprehensive approach to communication and reassurance. An issue that may be discussed personally on a one-to-one basis is not always easy to address in a large crowd.

Re-Build Trust:

During these times, mistrust and skepticism tends to dominate. A manager must be completely open and honest with the employees to rebuild trust. During these times, transparency is the key. A manager could, for example, discuss the financials and how the organization plans on shifting with the economy.

Instead of keeping critical information on downsizing, planning, and future management safely hidden in the top levels, share what every surviving employee should know since they have vested interest in the future of the company as well.

Explain Challenges and Solutions:

Two-way communication also accounts for sharing of any problem and possible solutions that may contribute to company’s success. Evidently, a company must be going through some tough times to have come upon the decision to downsize. When these “problems” arise, they should be communicated to employees even before downsizing takes place. If the company is still running on its hinges after the downsizing phase, employee feedback is necessary to not only encourage open communication and maintain trust, but also drive company success or survival with the help of the remaining employees.

Keep an Open Door:

Keeping the door open, or in other words, allowing your employee to get in touch with you anytime they like without any form-filling or going through various other channels first, is the best way to encourage employees to communicate and fill-in a manager with their concerns every so often. For instance, if an employee is exceedingly concerned about his future in the company and wishes to discuss the matter with the manager, there should be a way for him to receive that much needed solace and comfort. Without that direct link, they may search for inaccurate opinions through other unauthentic sources and may even decide to leave without prior notice.

An open-door policy also has a way of putting rumors and gossip to rest which tend to prevail in the company during and after downsizing. These rumors usually spring from uncertainty, ambiguity, and anxiety, often worsening employee morale. Contain these rumors and eliminate as much negativity from the company as possible before they cause too much damage to the company environment.

Author Bio

Edward Warner is a professional copywriter and blogger working as a freelancer in UK. He has worked with various local brands and has done ad copies for TV and print ads. He owns Writing Essay company that provides essay help to students in UK.