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How to keep morale high after a layoff

Sharon Florentine | Oct. 8, 2014
Keeping your remaining employees engaged, motivated and productive after a layoff or restructuring can be a monumental task. Here's how to do it.

That means, on a day-to-day basis, that direct managers must act as the go-between between management and the employee to determine what skills, knowledge and experience are needed to excel in each role, and how those roles align with business strategy. If that's not happening, direct managers should try to reposition workers to fill skill gaps or to motivate the workforce, Denaro says.

Of course, as is the case in many restructurings, sometimes talent is let go or employees leave but their role and their workload remains. It's up to the direct manager to figure out how to distribute the responsibilities and the workload among the remaining team members so no one gets burned out, disgruntled and leaves - presenting an even larger problem, Denaro says.

"Direct managers are often in the perfect position to identify the most successful people in the organization; those with great potential to help take the company out of the downturn," says SevenStep RPO's Harty. "Therefore, managers need to able to push mid-level people to perform like senior-level employees, but do so in a way that doesn't cause burnout. It's important that managers identify those who can deal with the extra pressure, and those who don't and delegate accordingly," Harty says.

"Sometimes jobs get 'Frankensteined' together and just dumped in the lap of whoever's closest to the role," he says. "That's a lot of pressure on an employee, especially if they don't have the strengths for that additional role. That's when coaching, mentoring, education and further training and critical to keeping talent," he says; presenting the additional responsibilities as an opportunity for learning and growth.

The Employee's Role
"The employee has a role, too," says Denaro. "They should have a career plan sketched out that covers their strengths, their weaknesses, their interests and their goals," he says. The company, in turn, should invest in coaching, education, training and mentoring to make sure employees are motivated to stay and engaged in driving the business forward, he says.

"When you do a layoff today, you have to think of engagement first. You've broken that implicit 'trust contract' you had with your employees; everyone's on edge, and there are more and more opportunities for talent to find other positions," says Denaro. "Employees have so many more choices; it's a huge business risk to not focus on engagement of those who remain," he says.


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