Tips for Re-engaging Employees After Layoffs - Novacrea Research
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Tips for Re-engaging Employees After Layoffs

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I am in the process of revamping my website, so I’m transferring some of the articles I wrote to this blog. These are oldies but goodies!

I wrote this one three years ago when many companies were laying off workers. It is as applicable then as it is now, with updated data from the Conference Board.

The latest Conference Board Employment Trends Index (ETI) for August 2011 is 100.8, down from July’s revised figure of 101. The August figure is up 4.1 percent from a year ago,but still lags behind the August 2008 index of 109.3. Recent news such as that of Bank of America and BAE Systems indicate that many companies may plan to layoff workers in this weak economy.

While most companies take great care to help laid-off employees with their transitions, many companies are not doing enough for the layoff survivors. Consequently, employee morale drops and company productivity suffers. If your company has laid off staff, here are five tips to motivate and re-engage the remaining employees.

Reemphasize your company vision, mission, and values.
Employee morale is negatively impacted after layoffs. Often, employees feel confused about their company direction and priorities. As a leader, you can re-emphasize your organization’s mission and values to recreate a work environment/culture that engages your employees. Take this opportunity to talk with employees about the culture and work environment that you want to create after layoffs. Speak positively about the company mission and goals after downsizing and thank employees for their contributions. Articulate clearly what you need to do as a group to move forward. Review your rewards and recognition program to ensure the remaining employees feel valued and appreciated.

Be visible and accessible to employees.
Employees want reassurance about their job security and their future. They want to hear it from senior management and not from the rumor mill. Senior management must be visible and accessible to employees to listen to employee concerns and answer their questions. Have an all-hands meeting to reiterate company direction and answer employees’ questions. Encourage managers to have regular departmental or team meetings where employees can ask questions, discuss their fears and concerns, and mourn the loss of their coworkers.

Continue to build trust with employees through effective communication.
After layoffs, the “psychological contract” between employees and their employer has been violated. As a result, employees lose trust in company leaders and wonder if they’ll lose their jobs next. It is critical that you have an effective communication strategy to reassure employees that you value them and their contributions to your company. Through effective communication, you’ll help employees let go of the old ways of doing things and integrate with new processes or methodology.

Reassess work processes and identify ways to improve efficiency.
Employees who survived layoffs are likely to take on more responsibilities. They may feel overwhelmed and burned out. As a leader, you want to help employees set clear priorities and worthwhile objectives. You want to focus your energy on accomplishing tasks that support the most important goals. This is also a good time to review work processes, identify ways to improve efficiency, assess what’s working and what’s not to improve your company’s competitiveness.

Continue to train and develop employees despite tough economic times.
During a downturn, many companies are likely to cut training budgets. However, doing so will only further erode employee morale and can decrease productivity. Often, layoff survivors wonder if they have the necessary skills and knowledge to take on expanded roles. As a leader, you can discuss training and career development plans with your employees to reassure them that the skills they have or are learning are highly valued and marketable. Through this process, you’ll help employees feel confident. In fact, these steps outlined above are best practices that employers of choice use to engage their employees as a matter of course. During times of major changes, you will need to up the efforts of implementing these best practices. Doing so will help you build a more positive work environment and motivate employees to give you their best work.

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