5 Ways to Boost Employee Motivation After Downsizing
Retrenchment has been one of the challenges an organisation has had to face during this pandemic. As the crisis continues in Malaysia, many corporations have had to adapt and restructure functions in the business to survive. Unfortunately, these changes include laying off employees.
According to the Job Report, though 58% of workers are still employed in Malaysia, 11% are temporarily out of their jobs and 18% have been permanently let go. The same survey shows that one out of three Malaysian employees were badly hit by the current crisis.
While it’s normal to be concerned for employees that have been retrenched, these so-called “layoff survivors” (staff who were able to keep their jobs) are most likely to experience physical, emotional, and mental stress after the downsizing. “Layoff survivor guilt” is real; it is a mental health condition wherein they feel guilty for being able to make the cut while others did not. Without proper intervention from the management, this guilt can lead to resignation.
Thus, the big question for employers who experienced retrenchment is: “How can you boost employee morale and motivation after a mass layoff?” While it can be tough to keep your employees happy during these trying times, there are ways to lift their spirits.
1. Honesty is the best policy
Although many companies are trying to do everything they can to sustain every single staff in the company, sometimes employee cuts turn into an unavoidable reality that needs to be done. Layoffs are usually the last resort for many employers, but your employees must know that you have done everything to keep them. Thus, being honest to your staff about the business condition before doing a mass layoff is essential. They need to feel involved in the conversation and the whole decision-making process as their livelihood is at stake. What is the basis of retrenchment? Will there be a system that the human resources department will follow?
Whether you decide to let go permanently or temporarily, you need to have a sincere talk with your employees about what you know, no matter how bad the picture is. Your transparency can also give the employees a chance to act for themselves and be in control. Furthermore, the company’s honesty can empower trust and respect as well lessen conflict in the future.
2. Redirect them to a new vision
Adapting to the new normal is one thing, but making a difference is another. Communicate your vision to the team. Make them aware of upcoming projects, innovative ideas, or new activities towards the new goal. Lead them at every step to achieve those goals together. A new direction will motivate the employees to push forward for the better of the company. It will also serve as a reminder to the staff that there is a rainbow after every storm, so they should not dwell on the problems. Focusing their attention towards the future will boost their morale at work, make them excited, and help them move forward. You might be surprised at how much difference you can make and how much positivity you can spread once you lead them into a new vision.
3. Have an open line of communication
One of the effects of downsizing your company is that the “layoff survivors” tend to feel upset and unmotivated. Most employees would still feel worried about their finances and job security even after making the cut. And this daily uneasiness can derail productivity, overall output at work; sometimes it can even stimulate staff turnover. To address this issue, you need to bridge the gap and open a line of communication to your employees. Start by initiating town hall meetings and encourage open forums regularly to communicate organisational goals and exchange constructive thoughts as a team, whether it is virtual or face-to-face. You can also start a one-on-one session with your employees if they are not comfortable with a group setting.
The important thing is to exchange a healthy conversation and understand each other’s perspectives. While an employee needs to learn how a manager thinks on the business side of things, especially during the pandemic, the leader, on the other hand, needs to consider an employee’s views and sentiments.
4. Equip them with training and education
Mass layoff means more workload for “layoff survivor” employees. Thus, be conscious of the tasks you give out as you might end up burning out the team. Do a slow but smooth transition of workload. When they are ready to take on more jobs, inspire them to focus on increasing their capabilities. Let them know that you appreciate them and you care about their career progress and developing these skills could assist that process. Assure them that you are there to support them with whatever they need for their development.
As an employer, you need to know what your staff needs to excel and reach their best self. Be vocal about career progression by initiating skills training and coaching, as well as conducting online courses or even cross-training staff to another department if they wish. While it will not be monetarily paid, this is a good chance for the employee to find their passion and purpose.
5. Empower trust and show them that you care
After everything that happened, remember that ‘layoff survivors’ are still dealing with a lot of emotions. Many employees have established a platonic relationship with their colleagues, especially if they have worked together for a long time. So, whether it is grief or separation anxiety, you must show your support by acknowledging their feelings. Employees will grieve after a loss, and they can show it in many ways. And it can surely affect their attitude towards work. Hence, give them the space they need to overcome their loss. Moreover, you can boost their morale by showing your care for the retrenched employees. Reach out to them and see how they are doing. Let them know that you are there to support them with their job search by lending a hand with references and referrals. You can also keep them up to date for job opportunities and even government assistance. This would help your remaining employees move on from their loss.
Remember that there is a light at the end of every tunnel. Sometimes, an employee just needs an inspirational leader who sees their efforts and cares about their welfare. By showing the right attitude, particularly in this challenging period, you can retain the best employees in your company. Use these practical tips to guide you in lifting their spirits during these difficult times. Once you have surpassed this emotional rollercoaster, it will strengthen your team and help invigorate a happy workplace environment.
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