3 simple ways to motivate employees after layoffs

Corporate restructuring and layoffs are an unfortunate but inevitable part of today's business ecosystem. Keeping your remaining employees engaged, motivated and productive after a restructuring requires managers to be proactive, honest and consistent.


You might think that employees who survive layoffs feel lucky or valued, but the ramification of layoffs or restructuring, including lower productivity and less engaged employees, has left many leaders baffled. The big question is how to motivate employees and generate employee loyalty among the “survivors” who are feeling distracted, and overworked. While difficult times can certainly be “discouraging,” they don’t have to be “de-motivating” to your employees.

The employees who are retained after a round of layoffs will likely experience a variety of emotions and reactions to the changes created through a workforce restructuring event. Here are 3 ways HR leaders and organizations can lessen the impact of a layoff on the remaining employees and get everyone back on track.

#1 Have a good communication plan - During a layoff it’s very important for managers and HR personnel to communicate with employees and stay visible and accesssible. Even before the layoff occurs, increase your frequency of communication at the company, team, and individual levels. Before the layoff, be as transparent as possible about the state of the company and future trajectory. After the layoff, be sure to acknowledge how the transition has been on employees and express your gratitude for their continued loyalty to the company and the work they are doing.

Don’t make the mistake of dropping the level of communication too soon. Plan to take a pulse survey of employee morale three months out and develop a plan to address lingering doubts and anxiety. Discuss what to expect while experiencing phases of change, how work will be delegated, and honestly address the likelihood of future layoffs.

#2 Work towards increasing employee resilience – Finding ways to increase employee resiliency will help your organization return to productivity and an atmosphere of employee engagement faster. One of the keys to resiliency is focusing on ways to help employees look forward to a better future – both for their own careers and for the company. Begin building resiliency by creating short-term, attainable goals for teams and individuals. Encourage individual employees to focus on their career development goals and broaden their perspectives. Give them the support they need to take positive actions that will result in personal growth and benefit the company.

Change the work environment by leading by example. Managers and HR leaders that take care of themselves will come to work with a positive mindset and the energy and outlook to encourage their team members to do the same. At the company and department level, managers can begin by encouraging their employees to practice healthy lifestyles and to take breaks and eat lunch away from their desks.

#3 Create an innovative and engaged workplace - With less staff and resources coupled with the need to meet the team and company goals; remaining employees may feel overwhelmed and helpless. Instead of pretending there has been no impact, or simply expecting employees to do more with less, look for ways to engage your staff in finding creative ways to handle the changes, effectively prioritize projects, collaborate to complete initiatives, and find solutions to challenges. Encourage innovation – ask remaining employees to find new ways to change how work is done and offer solutions to the bigger organizational challenges in addition to asking for their input when prioritizing tasks and projects. When asked to be part of the solutions, employees have been shown to be effective partners in helping to identify ways to improve efficiency, assess what’s working and what’s not, and improving an organization’s competitiveness in the market.

Don’t just focus on the work that needs to be done. The employees who remain after a round of layoffs will need to feel engaged at work and connected to their colleagues that remain. Arrange company-wide events where employees can get together and create a sense of community. Although this is the wrong time to go all out on events, host a potluck or treat employees to an inexpensive lunch. Find ways to increase team engagement with frequent bonding activities

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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