After a company downsizes the remaining employees can experience a range of emotions: initial relief, a sense of loss, even guilt over keeping their jobs. During these emotional periods, HR managers need to provide support to employees and develop a plan for moving forward.

Optimism, Honesty and Rebuilding Trust

It’s important for managers to maintain an optimistic attitude and promote positive thinking. Be honest about the situation. All who are coping with the recent layoffs need to understand the logistics behind the decision and the plan going forward.

Pay special attention to high performers. Research shows that better-performing employees typically have more training, education and ability, and are are the most likely to quit their jobs when dissatisfied. Provide support and encouragement, and help them see that downsizing opens new opportunities and channels for promotion.

Many employees will be concerned about increasing workloads. Proactively address this by conducting staff meetings to brainstorm ideas for dividing the added work fairly. This will give employees a sense of ownership in the plan, post layoff. It may even give certain employees a chance to gain experience in an area where he or she had not yet worked. Try to emphasize these opportunities.

In today’s business environment, change is the norm. This is an integral message that needs to be communicated. Most importantly, you need to not only allow but encourage open communication between executives and managers and the remaining employees. There will be questions; be prepared to answer them. This will help rebuild a sense of trust between senior management and their employees.

Emphasizing Outplacement Benefits

Take this as an opportunity to emphasize employee outplacement benefits. This offering can sometimes appear intimidating to some staff members who fear that they will be let go. What needs to be clearly explained is that these services protect all employees should a layoff take place.

A recently released study by the Aberdeen Group reveals that companies offering outplacement services achieve gains in engagement, recruitment cycle, cost per hire and referrals. So outplacement can be a useful tool in turbulent times, even for employees who remain.

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