Engaging Employees After A Layoff

There are few things more difficult to do than terminating someone’s employment. Employees who are treated with dignity and respect in this process, and receive the support they need, will progress in their job search with greater ease and reflect more positively on their experiences with their former employer. Remaining employees will also benefit from knowing that their former colleagues have been treated fairly.

Four Key Strategies 

  1. Consistent Messaging: First and foremost, it is critical that all levels of management are speaking with a uniform message. Some employees will feel a sense of permanent change, uncertainty about the future, and wonder whether they can trust management. Conflicting messages and views will only deepen this problem and make the recovery process painfully slow. Consistency in what you say, no matter who you are speaking with, will help to build confidence in the path forward.
  1. Constant Communication: During this period, it is impossible to over-communicate. Information flow should be bountiful, and interactions must be natural and authentic. Communication is 7% word choice, 38% tone, and 55% body language and therefore should include written, verbal, nonverbal, formal, informal, up, down, and laterally. During large and long restructurings, some organizations have published an internal newsletter or set up a hotline to foster communication. You should be accessible and visible, keeping all doors open. Be a sounding board, tell the truth, and never say, “never.”
  1. Clear Direction: Set clear, attainable, and realistic short-term goals to connect an individual’s contributions to the overall company goals; this will allow each person to see how they fit into the bigger picture. Provide frequent, positive, and constructive feedback on how they are progressing.
  1. Career Development Conversations: Help employees proactively manage their careers. Organizations cannot promise job security. Real job security comes from having a marketable skill set, a good reputation, and a strong network. Support them by talking about their strengths, interests, goals, and how they can grow within the organization. Encourage them to attend industry events to stay abreast of what’s happening, speak on panels, write a blog, expand their network by volunteering on a committee, or participating in a corporate-wide initiative.