The Employee Engagement Challenge
“First I was afraid
I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live
without you by my side”
Survivors of layoffs always think at first that they are the lucky ones. One company that I consulted to had to lay off 2/3 of its salaried workforce in two days. Those two days were harrowing for all involved – those who had to do the firing, those who were being fired and those who had to watch. Those watching felt compassion and relief that it wasn’t they who were called into one of those meetings where they would be asked to relinquish their id’s and other company possessions and then be walked out the door in shame.
However, such relief does not last; after the dust settles and reality descends is when it gets hard for everyone. And engaging surviving employees may be really tough, because:
Their careers could become inadvertently stalled or limited. This reality may not be obvious at first. However, along with positions and people, promotional opportunities and career ladders are also eliminated. For many, working hard, doing the right things, and gaining the right expertise has led to a role they have long outgrown, at a red-circled salary that isn’t dramatically increasing.
And, of course, surviving employees are almost always overworked. When a large portion of a workforce is let go, the corresponding amount of work to be done is not necessarily eliminated. Thus, survivors have the burden of their own jobs, plus the jobs of those who were let go. This math is also simple: Same amount of work + Fewer people + Same salary = Big bummer.
Surviving employees still have the same desire to do a job well, but they may have a harder time achieving the same sense of accomplishment as they did previously. Customers can be more demanding, and increased workloads could make it harder for surviving employees to do what is required merely to satisfy customers, much less to thrill them.
In such a situation, a leader can do a lot to assess where those employees are and make immediate and meaningful course corrections. Here is what can be done:
Ask them how they feel about the decisions that have made.
Fully admit mistakes for the decisions that were made and/or how those decisions were made and carried out. Make no excuses. Don’t blame Wall Street, recession, etc. Lay aside your demands that your employees be loyal to you.
Involve them in developing the solutions for re-engaging the workforce and your customers. If they weren’t involved in creating the problem, make them an integral part of the solution.
The bottom line
Take action today to re-engage your surviving employees. Figure out how you will solicit and gain employee feedback. Gather your executive team together to have gut-level, honest conversations about the quality and integrity of decisions made and the potential negative impact on long-term employee engagement. Lastly, find ways to take responsibility for and to rectify the decisions that may have damaged your employee loyalty.
Are you ready to take your organizational effectiveness to the next level? Check out the other resources available online at www.acceleraconsultinggroup.com or give us a call at 407.376.8522 for a free consultation. We accelerate results by igniting leadership and organizational potential!