How do you Maintain Morale in the Face of Uncertainty? Three Guidelines

Situation: The industry is changing and the Company must adapt both structure and focus. This may require a layoff of staff not aligned with the new focus. How do you maintain morale in the face of uncertainty and possible layoffs?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Ask for employee input as to industry trends and what possible directions for the company.
    • Employees are closer to the customer than the CEO and have valuable insights.
    • Gather input in small group meetings to prompt discussion and ideas.
    • Make this a research talk. Leverage the “wisdom of the crowd.”
  • Research other industries that have undergone similar changes.
    • What strategies did the most successful companies pursue? Could these work for you?
    • If faced with protracted uncertainty, what did they do while waiting for market clarity?
  • If a layoff is necessary, conduct it in one day:
    • Monday is better than Friday.
    • Do it early in the day. Give final checks the day of the layoff.
    • Provide instructions for filing for unemployment assistance via the Internet.
    • Hold a company meeting for remaining staff immediately after the layoffs. Focus your message on the future and positioning the company for the future.
    • Prepare a brief summary of your message, to distribute as a take-away.
    • Be prepared for a grieving process following the layoff. Consider outside assistance on grieving to overview the process.
    • Following the company meeting, have key employees conduct smaller group meetings to lead discussions and allay fears about the layoff. Fully prep these individuals about the situation with written responses to likely questions.
    • The benefit of a Monday layoff is that you will see everyone on Tuesday, and the team can continue to address their concerns.

Key Words: Strategy, Layoff, Change, Morale, Employee Input, Analysis 

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