Pin Me

Guidelines for Steering Your Employees When Downsizing Occurs

written by: Michael Guerrero•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 10/14/2011

Downsizing is an unfortunate but effective tool for helping a hurting business. However, the workforce will respond negatively and tempers will run high. Use our guide of collected tips and strategies for managing your workforce during a downsizing to prevent those emotions from getting in the way.

  • slide 1 of 2

    Managing emotions and employees through downsizing is hard. Downsizing is a tough process that happens for a lot of unfortunate reasons. The toughest part is having to cut people from your workforce in order to keep your business from going under. It's a heavy blow to the morale of the people in your workforce, who are affected by the constant fear of termination and seeing their co-workers lose their jobs. Managing through this is hard--there are no two ways about it--but you have to continue on.

    From Bright Hub's top HR experts you'll find here the kind of advice you need to keep your employees' morale up during a stressful situation.

  • slide 2 of 2

    Common Reasons for Downsizing the Labor Force

    The first thing you need to do before the actual downsizing is to justify the need to reduce your workforce. Be careful; a downsizing will have long-lasting effects and will require time and effort for a recovery. It has to be legitimate or else you will suffer the repercussions of a stressed and drained workforce.

    Tips for Following Corporate Layoff Procedures

    There are procedures in place that need to be followed for a variety of reasons. Failure to follow them will result in either legal trouble or it will create a situation within your business that is far worse than the consequences of downsizing. Just remember to do things by the book in order to prevent fallout in your organization.

    Free Example: General Notice of Layoff Form

    During your downsizing, it's good to have the necessary tools on hand for laying off employees. This will save a lot of time and effort during a very stressful and hectic time. While it's difficult to lay someone off, it's better to be prepared to do so rather than have to wait and dwell on the subject for too long.

    Communicating Job Changes to Employees

    Keeping your employees informed of the situation is critical. If allowed, they will spread rumors and create a whole new set of issues to deal with on top of the downsizing at hand. Let them know what is happening, and it will help to reduce stressful anxiety and fear in the workplace.

    Motivating Employees Using Positive Reinforcement

    The most important thing you need to do for your employees during a downsizing is keep them positive. Motivate them to continue pushing through the downsizing, so that when everything is all said and done they won't feel as awful. Keeping the work environment positive and on task will be the most effective way of managing through a downsizing.

    Effects of Downsizing: Take Steps for a Positive Outcome

    The cuts will create anxiety for your employees and if that anxiety lingers throughout the downsizing and beyond it will result in some serious problems for your business. Take the appropriate measures to keep things positive and moving rather than having everyone lingering on that feeling of dread surrounding layoffs. Preventing post-layoff syndrome will keep your business going despite the job eliminations.

    How to Write an Employee Reference Letter

    The best way to reduce the tension caused by layoffs is to provide ex-employees a tool to find work elsewhere. This will lighten the environment a bit and show that you're willing to do everything you can to help someone even if you can't keep him with your business. Extending this offer will show that you are caring and that this downsizing is--unfortunately--the only viable option.

    Motivating Employees After Layoffs

    After the downsizing takes place, your employees are going to be recovering from the experience. There will be a loss in confidence in you and the company because management was unable to keep everyone on board as promised, and it's your job to restore that confidence. Keep your employees moving to stop them from lingering on the loss of fellow employees, and show them they that they still have guaranteed work to do.

    Ethical Issues Concerning Downsizing

    As a manager, you need to be familiar with the implications of downsizing a company. It's not an easy thing to do and will take a serious toll on you if you aren't prepared for the ethical issues that will arise from such an undertaking. Learn as much as you can so that when the time comes you are ready to deal with the consequences of your actions.

    Tips For Managing Resistance to Change

    By nature, humans will be resistant to any sort of negative change in the environment. That's why it's all but certain you will have to endure your employees' responding negatively to a downsizing. Keep yourself armed with knowledge and be ready to communicate with your employees throughout a period of layoffs to prevent emotions from running high and completely ruining your business.

    Managing the Emotions of Change Through Downsizing

    Emotions will be stretched to the limit, and the work environment will be tense and full of negativity. You will also be experiencing these negative emotions in yourself; it's important to keep them in check or else they will consume everything. Learn how to do this and apply this knowledge when appropriate.

    Helping Staff Embrace Change

    Once you've managed the employees' emotions and your own, you need to get them to embrace the change. Share your perspective on the situation and show them that the downsizing is a positive thing for everyone involved in your organization. It will help reduce some pressure and negative energy and help to get things back on track once the downsizing is completed.

References