Morale is the next casualty after a round of layoffs. Those who survived the cuts are left to speculate on the health of the business and their place within it.
So, if your firm has recently experienced a downsizing, it is your responsibility to restore your team’s confidence and set a positive outlook amid lingering uncertainty.
“Any time there’s turbulence in the workplace, it’s good to level with the team,” says Jillian Bannister, co-founder of Ext. Marketing Inc. “[You would say], ‘Here are our objectives,’ and stay focused on achieving those goals.”
If team members lose sight of what anchors them to the business, they may become disengaged and unmotivated.
“[You’re] a role model for employees to develop positive attitudes with whatever they’re doing,” Bannister says.
Here are four tips for boosting morale following layoffs:
1. Focus on the team’s successes
Don’t let the negative circumstances overshadow any positive outcomes. Take time to “celebrate the wins you have on your team,” Bannister says.
Make sure to recognize the team’s efforts and individual contributions, to make them aware of their impact. “Everyone likes to feel like they’re a part of something, that they’re helping people,” she says.
2. Schedule a team-building activity
Spend a day with your team outside the office, so they can bond over an activity unrelated to work. You can have a picnic spread at the park on a sunny day, or opt for some indoor fun at a bowling alley.
Whatever the team decides, it will be a welcome distraction that can help change team members’ attitude toward work.
“[A team activity can] relieve any anxiety about what might be happening at the firm,” Bannister says. “It helps people reset and think a little differently.”
3. Maintain an open dialogue
While you may not be able to disclose all the details about layoffs at your firm, try to be upfront about the circumstances. “It’s important to keep your team informed as much as you can, and be open and honest with what you know and what you may not know,” Bannister says.
Give them the opportunity to ask questions, and address them as best you can. They should have a sense of the situation, and how it will affect the work they do. People need context for why layoffs have happened, especially if it means the workload needs to be reallocated and expectations change, Bannister says.
4. Refine the work process
With fewer resources available, there often is more pressure on employees to get things right in a tighter time frame. While such a change can be difficult to manage initially, Bannister says, there’s also an unrecognized opportunity.
“Everyone is being asked to do more with less,” she says. “Instead of thinking about having more work to do, see where you can make something more efficient.”
One way of engaging the team is to ask for feedback on better ways to process the work: “Get them involved in that thought process.”
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