There's nothing more jarring than having a change imposed on us:
something we didn't plan for, anticipate, or even want. When the
imposed change involves workforce reduction, managers have much at
stake. Not only do they need to take care of their own needs, but
they also must consider the risks facing their organization,
including the loss of talent due to disengaged employees. Several
profiled companies in a research study conducted by the Corporate
Leadership Council agreed that workforce reductions have a lasting
impact on employee motivation, loyalty, and engagement.
This can lead to one or more of the following outcomes:
- Employees might leave, which could cost up to 200 percent of an
annual employee salary.
- Employees may stay, but remain disengaged; this population
costs roughly 11 percent in payroll costs.
- Employees could choose to stay, find ways to recover from the
loss, re-engage, and get back to generating as much as 33 percent
higher profits and operate at 50 percent higher productivity.
According to the Gallup organization, only 26 percent of today's
workforce is engaged after downsizing efforts. The employees who
remain at the company have experienced great loss. This can impact
their psychological contract with their employer and damage trust.
Furthermore, these employees may struggle to see the connection
between workplace changes and the potential for continued workplace
A focused, holistic approach toward developing employee resilience
is paramount to maintaining employee engagement. Here are a number
of tips and actions that can help employees develop resilience:
Maintain a constructive outlook. Resilient people
are realistic; they also believe they can control their situation
and the choices they make. Facilitate the development of your
employees' positive outlook through communication. Communicate good
and bad news often; be realistic, tell the truth, and don't over
promise. Communicating well will pave the way toward restoring a
relationship with employees based on mutual trust and respect and
helping them gain their own constructive outlook.
Leverage resources. Ask employees what has helped
them deal with change in the past. Offer your own resources.
Get proactive. Encourage proactive thinking by
exploring the future of the organization with employees and
discussing how their skills, interests, and motivations can be
incorporated into the new direction. Provide time for employees to
focus on their career goals, continued learning, and development.
Practice flexibility. Employees
with resilience compromise when necessary. Help employees increase
their flexibility by offering ways to explore the change and its
implications. By shifting employees' attention from what has
happened to them, to what they are going to do as a result of the
change, you can guide employees to manage their own transition.
Maintain focus. Keep your eye on the intended
objective of the change. Short-term changes need not derail you
from the big picture. Support your employees' ability to maintain
focus and perspective by describing and sharing your vision of the
future and how employees fit into that picture.
Focusing on developing employee resilience during times of change
and workforce reduction enables employees to become more adaptable
to change. It can help employees make informed decisions and
reduces the likelihood that employees will leave the company or