News by JP Smith Toowoomba

News

02 March 2015

Managing the morale of retained staff during redundancy activities

Redundancy planning has obvious ramifications for those losing their employment and many businesses do brilliant work in providing support and retraining opportunities for outgoing staff.

However, there is more to managing a redundancy than dealing with directly-affected staff.

A factor easily overlooked is the wellbeing and, especially, the morale of those employees who are retained. Ignoring the needs of retained staff is a certain pathway to future issues and, counter-intuitively, can lead to the loss of staff businesses had every intention of keeping.

Surviving a downsizing, having watched work colleagues receive redundancy packages will not necessarily result in feelings of relief at keeping a job. It is common for retained staff to feel insecure and worry about their own future. Questions that may be dwelt upon can include:

  • Will I be next?
  • There was no warning, is this just the first round?
  • Is the business failing?
  • If I lose my job how will I survive financially?
  • Should I get out before I have to compete with others for available jobs when the next redundancies happen?

Such internal questioning may lead to a nervous staff-base with low morale and a focus on matters contrary to the ongoing sustainability of the organisation. This can lead to retained employees seeking alternative employment and rapidly see a business move from being overstaffed and having gone to great expense to reduce the workforce only to become under-staffed.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY

A well-planned redundancy program should include a facilitated plan maintain staff morale and foster confidence both in the future of the business and the stability of remaining roles.

Some ways to actively maintain morale include:

  • Honest and transparent communication before, during and after redundancy.
  • Avoid rhetoric that indicates information is being hidden from employees.
  • As far as possible, clearly outline the objectives of the redundancies and how this will ensure the long-term viability of the business.
  • Retained staff will likely view the redundancies their colleagues were offered with a mind towards how they would have felt receiving one – it is important they see the method and offers as being fair and equitable.
  • Ensure new workloads are not onerous. Workloads will increase and extra responsibilities will be shared, but avoid over-burdening remaining employees.
  • Offer external, confidential counselling support.
  • Carefully monitor staff morale before, during and after the redundancy period and encourage feedback. Be proactive in adjusting strategies if needed.
  • Avoid cancelling bonus schemes or inflating performance targets – reducing the effective salaries of employees will quickly lead to discontentment.
  • Actively and regularly update staff on the rebuilding process and financial progress of the company.
  • Continue to provide training and development opportunities to demonstrate a positive future outlook.

These points aim to foster employee confidence that the company will continue to provide stable employment – it is a delicate process for which expert support, advice and facilitation is available.

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