How to Improve Office Morale Following Staff Lay-offs

How to Improve Office Morale Following Staff Lay-offs
Jobsdb content teamupdated on 25 September, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted many job sectors in Thailand. A recent Survey Report by JobsDB shows that 47% of organisations had experienced a negative impact on headcount—around one in 10 hirers had permanently laid off staff, with 13% having temporarily done so.
On a positive note, many companies are seeking to continue recruitment as they head towards recovery. The same survey shows that 7% of organisations that had previously reduced or frozen new hires are now already hiring again. Meanwhile, 36% are expecting to start hiring within the next three months. A further 24% are anticipating a bounceback in recruitment in the next six months.
How to Improve Office Morale Following Staff Lay-offs

Reasonably enough, employers have been zooming into the issues of layoffs and unemployment during the past months. However, hirers must not overlook the “layoff survivors”—the “lucky ones” whose jobs have been spared. While 72% of these remaining employees feel positive about keeping their jobs, many of them are not experiencing job happiness.

As the COVID-19 crisis hit, several employees have been experiencing “layoff survivor guilt”—a mental condition wherein employees feel guilty for overcoming a company layoff, while some of their colleagues did not. When not properly addressed, layoff survivor guilt can cause employees to voluntarily quit their jobs.

As an employer, you have a vital role to help your remaining employees cope with their layoff survivor guilt. While this seems like a challenging part to play, know that there are definitely things you can do to motivate employees to keep moving forward.Below are some tips to improve employee morale in your workplace.

1.Set a culture of transparency.

In whatever circumstances, having a company culture of trust is essential. Before conducting lay-offs, it is best to exhaust all other cost-cutting options to protect every employee from dismissal. Give employees the chance to discuss and collaborate with human resources before choosing to lay them off.

When employee dismissal is inevitable, make sure to set fair standards and follow legal procedures. To establish a culture of trust, employees must understand why unfortunate choices have to be made. Be transparent with your team about the whole decision-making process.

Create a merit-based system wherein employees can see the necessity of organisational restructures, retrenchment, and redundancy. Commonly, merit-based systems include evaluation based on length of service, disciplinary records, performance appraisals, and skills and experience. This said, make sure that every employee is treated with respect throughout the whole process of dismissal. This will lessen the blow for both the laid off and the remaining employees.

2.Allow staff to deal with the loss of valued coworkers.

As with all kinds of grief, moving on from loss takes time. For many employees, colleagues are not just partners at work—they are friends and family, too. Thus, the first step to helping layoff survivors is to acknowledge their pain.

Studies show that while employees appreciate employers who are supportive during wins, they much more value the support of employers during times of losses. With this, make sure to extend empathy towards your remaining employees as they deal with the loss of their ex-colleagues. Give them time to breathe; avoid pressuring them with tasks; encourage them to reach out to ex-colleagues if they want.

Additionally, it would be helpful to remind employees that the company cares for the laid-off employees as well. Be supportive as ex-employees seek out new jobs. Provide them with information on job opportunities and government assistance; aid them with recommendation letters and referrals.

Also read: How to deal with absence

3.Address concerns on trust and job security through open communication and forums.

Unsurprisingly, mass layoffs agitate most employees. To improve employee morale during COVID-19, you must prioritise open communication among your team. Ideally, the more employees you are handling, the more systematic and intentional you should be when it comes to company interaction.

Whether virtually or physically, meetings and open forums should be done regularly to motivate employees. Hold town hall meetings or casual gatherings—either of these work, depending on the situation. During these events, communicate your organisational goals and personal sentiments to your employees. Employees must understand how their leaders think and feel to trust them during a crisis.

Remember that communication is a two-way street. Besides expressing your thoughts, allow employees to voice out their concerns. Listen to them sincerely; take note of pressing concerns that the company must act on.

4.Communicate a renewed vision for the company.

Allow the organisation to stand as a role model for pushing on amid the COVID-19 crisis. By now, your company probably already has plans on how to adapt to the new normal. Communicate your vision to your employees—this will remind them that despite losses, there remains a light at the end of the tunnel.

A new vision can motivate employees to do their best to help the company succeed after suffering from employee layoffs. This may even inspire them to embrace new roles, take on new tasks, and dream of new ways they can positively affect the organisation.

5.Provide skills training and re-distribute work for lay-off survivors to help them manage potentially larger workloads.

Once employees are ready for additional tasks, equip them with proper skills training. During this pandemic, many companies are cost-cutting and cannot afford to pay employees for their additional labour. See to it that you remain humane and motivate them with development opportunities instead. Employees who see their significance in a company are more secure in their jobs and are more likely to stay.Be sensitive to the current workload of your employees, as well. Never take advantage of their enthusiasm; instead, leverage their optimism and build them up as they help the company. Prevent them from being burnt out by regularly evaluating their tasks—redistribute and redelegate work if necessary.

Whenever you introduce an employee to a new job role, follow up on them after a short while. Ask them for their feedback, evaluation, expectations, and goals.

Also read: Five Ways for Small HR Departments to Focus on Employee Development

Best believe that these pressing times can strengthen your organisation. Once you overcome layoffs and learn to manage layoff survivors, your company will be heading towards quick recovery. As the most successful employers believe: Employees are your most valuable assets.

Visit the COVID-19 Resource Hub for expert advice on managing the challenges of COVID-19. And to find the best talent for your company, look to Talent Search to connect with candidates faster. #TogetherAhead, we rise above our challenges.

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