How to Motivate Your Employees after a Layoff

No matter what name you use, downsizing, layoff, termination, and rightsizing, all of these terms ultimately have the same meaning. The outcome is fewer employees, same or more work, same pay, and less motivation. So what should you do when financial situations force you to take harsh steps?

Everyone will give you the easiest advice – divide the work in remaining employees. Some will argue that this will eventually increase productivity because employees will have more work, appreciation, and growth opportunities.

In reality, even though after the layoff there’s more work, fewer employees, and more appreciation, motivation decreases. Why? There is guilt of surviving the downsizing, while others had to leave. Then there is the grief of not seeing familiar co-workers and peers around. And lastly, more work is not always pleasant, sometimes it is overwhelming. Moreover, there is always the feeling, are we done with the layoff or am I the next one on the block?

It is common for employers to lose hope and fail to motivate their team, or they believe that survivors should be thankful for retained employment. Both of which is not healthy for the workplace. People may work out of fear or for the sake of working, but slowly the team will fall out, and then you’ll wish to go back in time and take the right steps.

Here’s how you can motivate your employees after a layoff.

First, trust

Your employees need to develop their trust again because you left them thinking that they can be fired anytime. Communicate and truthfully convey that their jobs are secure and if the corporate, you can put the company in a better position. If you fail to do so, many may switch, or their performance will degrade. Communication with people in groups and in a 1-1 setting is very important while dealing with a layoff.

Then, truth

Your employees deserve to know the truth behind downsizing. Share with them every detail that you know and that they need to know.Explain why you had to do what you did. With an explanation, it is easier for people to accept the circumstances. If you expect your employees to blindly trust you after a layoff, then, frankly, they really have no reason to do so.

Show empathy

Understand why people are de-motivated instead of expecting them to be grateful for retaining their jobs. Let them know you understand that the extra workload can be exhausting, but together the team can overcome this situation. Also, take responsibility for the employees you let go and that you plan to rehire when things are right.

Stay positive

The current condition may be depressing but staying positive can take you a long way. Once your employees know their jobs are safe and the reasons behind the layoff, they will embrace the change. However, for your employees to accept the change and stay positive, you have to be positive first.

Be a leader

Convey to your team that you and other managerial staff that you will always be available to address any queries regarding work changes. Discuss performance issues, motivate your team, and advise them on how to be more productive.

Divide the workload

After downsizing, you and other management employees will have to take on extra responsibilities and work because your team can’t handle everything. Dividing the workload will additionally make your employees realize that you are in this together and they are not the only ones rowing a drowning boat.

Even after all this, not all your employees will be satisfied, and some may leave because they will lose faith in the organization. However, in the end, you have to realize if you fail to motivate your team, you might lose much more than you already have.

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