If layoffs become necessary, how you handle the affected employees and how you immediately respond to the remaining workforce will determine whether your workers remain productive and engaged. Managers erroneously believe that survivors are grateful that they have a job. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Layoffs traumatize an organization and its workers.
Treat your laid off workers with respect and dignity. Take the time to explain why layoffs are necessary. Provide them with severance and outplacement assistance. Give them time to ask questions and to say goodbye. And unless you expect trouble, don’t ask security to escort them to the door. When laid off workers are treated fairly, they are less likely to call an attorney.
As soon as the layoffs are over, talk to the survivors. Explain what happened and why. Answer their questions. Address all their concerns. Be honest and candid. Outline your turnaround plan. Delivering bad news without a plan merely adds to their anxiety.
Reassure your star performers. Let then know how important they are and why they are needed. Make them part of your recovery plan. Remember, good employees can always find jobs and recruiters will be targeting them at the first sign of a layoff.
During the days and weeks that follow the layoff, managers must be visible and accessible. Talk frequently to your survivors. Listen. Keep them focused. Workers remain engaged when they are treated fairly and believe in their management.