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Employee Engagement

How to keep up employee engagement and motivation during and after layoffs

The current downturn in the economy has led to an increase in layoffs and downsizing at many organizations. While layoffs can be a necessary step for companies to stay afloat, they can also have a significant impact on employee engagement and motivation. This can be especially true during a recession when the job market is tight and the future may seem uncertain.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the effects of layoffs on employee engagement and motivation and discuss strategies for maintaining employee engagement and motivation during this difficult time. We will explore the importance of open and transparent communication, providing support and resources during layoffs, and how it can help to mitigate the negative impact on employee engagement and motivation. Additionally, we will delve into the role of leadership and management in fostering a positive company culture that can help to keep employees engaged and motivated, even during tough times.

Employee layoffs are not easy for anyone. While an organization needs to make tough decisions on who to let go of to be able to retain the best of talent, employees – laid off and retained, go through their own turmoil of ups and downs with mixed emotions about the news surrounding them. This is exactly why as organizations go through employee layoffs in this downturn economy, we recommend them to simultaneously focus on employee engagement and motivation.

employee engagement and motivation

Why is it important to focus on employee engagement and motivation during an economic downturn?

Employees at an organization undergoing layoffs and restructuring often tend to lose sight of the vision and mission they joined it for. They are surrounded by the news of their team members leaving the company, of a tight market, of recession, which instills uncertainty about who they are going to work with and how they’re going to be doing all the work that will now be left unattended. Add to that all the emotions they go through and rumor-mongering instigated by a few insiders and outsiders, and you have a workforce that is doing everything but work. 

This results in the best of your talents suddenly becoming disengaged at work and losing interest in what they are hired for or simply losing the motivation to do the best of their work. Either way, the workforce productivity drops, and the culture you have been focusing on becomes all too negative.

So what can you really do to keep employee engagement and motivation up during this time? 

Simple ways to keep employee engagement and motivation up in tough times 

We have broken the following set of actionables down on the basis of the stage of employee layoffs that you are in. The intent behind each of these activities hence changes accordingly.

Things to do during employee layoffs 

1. Communicate clearly 

Stay transparent throughout the process and keep your workforce informed about the layoffs. Ensure it doesn’t come across as a surprise that no one asked for!

Talk about the what, why, how behind the employee layoffs as clearly as possible. Rope in team managers and key stakeholders into the process to ensure you get the message across in the right way.

2. Plan employee offboarding  

Similar to how you onboard talent, ensure you have a proper employee offboarding process in place. You don’t want a laid-off employee to feel like they are being rushed out of the door after all this time of working with you. 

Your employee offboarding process should include a series of steps that gradually walks the employee through document submissions, getting clearances, submitting devices, revoking access to key accounts, and a knowledge transfer to the next in line. Keep the process as optimized as possible and ensure it does not feel like an added burden on them.

3. Conduct exit interviews

employee engagement and motivation

Don’t let your laid off employees leave without feeling heard. Conduct an exit interview that is targeted at understanding how they felt about their tenure at the organization, feedback on how you can make it better for future hires, and what they’d require from you in the next couple of days, weeks, and months. 

We recommend leveraging a mix of automations and one-on-one meetings for the exit interview.

Here’s a ready employee offboarding checklist for smooth exits.
Read Now

4. Ensure post-offboarding communication

Once an offboarding process is complete, don’t let the employees feel like they are alone. Ensure post-exit communication by sending them a thank you email and encouraging them to join an alumni group. 

You should also communicate how you’re with them and available in case they need anything in the days coming ahead.

Things to do after employee layoffs 

1. Communicate proactively 

Don’t let your workforce ‘settle in’ with everything happening around them. Communicate proactively and positively about what has happened, restate why you underwent these changes, and share your plans for the coming year. 

Ensure you reinforce the organization’s vision, mission, and values too so you can align everyone and get them on the same page. Communicate positively and with assurance to build trust in your workforce.

2. Conduct pulse surveys

employee engagement and motivation

Never let things run on assumptions. After you have communicated with total clarity, ensure you reach out with pulse surveys to see if your employees have understood the same or how they feel about the new changes. 

Using pulse surveys you can create quick questionnaires focused on understanding the opinion of your employees about different aspects. Keep your questions aligned with only one thing at a time, and space them out so that they don’t feel overwhelmed by it all.

3. Address change effectively 

A number of companies went through layoffs without implementing the changed strategies. This led to a workforce feeling confused for days and weeks without an end goal in front of them. 

Instead of leaving things to assumptions, ensure you address change effectively. Ideally, you should have a restructuring plan in place already with revised scope of work for the retained workforce. The sooner you start, the lesser room you leave for them to feel lost.

4. Get some team-building activities in place

employee engagement and motivation

Whether you have a workforce that comes to the office or works remotely, remember a little time together can go a long way. After the layoffs, ensure that you plan out some team-building employee engagement ideas and activities with the team. 

This could be a remote activity like brainstorming sessions online, or in-person activities like a team lunch, an off-site, or simply department-wise games that encourage employees to innovate, get creative and get busy in a positive manner.

5. Keep your laid off employees in the loop 

Don’t cut ties with those you lay off. If you want your retained employees to feel like they matter, lead by example. And it starts with you staying in touch with your laid off employees. This includes proactive measures like implementing ways to help them find their next job, encouraging existing employees to do the same, and creating an alumni group for everyone to touch base on.

6. Resolve queries and concerns actively

With restructuring taking place, a lot of your employees may have questions about their job roles, salaries, benefits, and other policies. Remember to answer these questions with complete transparency and proactively.

This is where setting up FAQ automation or having a case management platform can come in handy. It helps you stay on top of incoming queries, understand the pressing concerns of your employees, and focus on resolving issues before they go out of hand.

7. Don’t skip one-on-one meetings

employee engagement and motivation

While you may want to focus all your efforts on restructuring, don’t skip one-on-one meetings. A lot of your employees find solace and assurance when they have human interaction. Give them a chance to schedule these meetings with a clear agenda and set aside some time to talk to them.

To ensure your one-on-one meetings are effective, we do recommend having a set of questions in place beforehand. These questions should vary based on the intent of the meeting and must have an end objective in mind.

Never miss a beat when it comes to tracking employee engagement and motivation

While it is understandable for employees to feel demotivated after an organization has gone through a layoff period, the truth is that employees’ engagement and motivation levels are not really dependent on economic circumstances, but on how the organization actually handles the news. Transparent and credible communication and regular feedback can build trust and loyalty. 

The one thing that is common, both, during and after employee layoff periods is keeping track of your workforce pulse. 

Use a smart HR tool like Leena AI to stay on top of how your employees feel with the help of automation, surveys and powerful workforce analytics. The tool gives you an insight into how your employees feel about the layoffs, how engaged they are in their jobs and the sentiment running behind it all. 

This gives you a chance to address queries, concerns and questions, and ensure you equip them with the strength to go through it all – and also ensure there are no misconceptions about the organization, its policies and the culture you promote. 

Remember, behind layoffs are a bunch of people who have responsibilities, liabilities and dreams. Being an organization that focuses on ensuring the going is smooth for laid off employees, speaks volumes about your culture and employee value proposition

Ready to ensure your organization’s employee engagement and motivation levels don’t drop because of the layoffs?

It’s time to put a people-first strategy in place with Leena AI
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