We are living in a time of unparalleled change – at least the latest period of unparalleled change. Organisations are having to radically rethink how they operate, manage, service their customers and are staffed in order to survive. However, as I have written previously, how organisations manage this change with their employees is key to its success. An additional factor, however, that organisations need to take into account is how to motivate those that remain in the organisation once the latest change programme is completed.
Much has been written about the impact on redundancies on those left behind. ‘Survivor Syndrome’ recognises that there is a physical and psychological impact upon those employees who have not lost their jobs. These staff feel guilty for keeping their jobs when their colleagues and friends have lost theirs. This in turn can impact upon performance. A recent survey, reported in Personnel Today (Note 1), showed that, in organisations that had experienced at least one redundancy programme, 67% reported lower staff morale, 65% noted an increase in absenteeism and 17% found that retention of key staff was a problem. In addition a significant number (19%) noted problems with productivity.
What can organisations do to manage this impact? The first step is to to minimise the impact of redundancies on the remaining workforce. This can include briefings about the changes (before they happen), explaining not just the what but the why of change and outlining the impact that this will have on both the staff who are leaving and those remaining. The next step is to have a strategy to reengage with the remaining workforce. This includes, above all, open and visible leadership. Without the direct and repeated involvement of the leaders of the organisation, trust cannot be maintained or rebuilt as appropriate. With trust, the leadership can ensure that the change becomes embedded and that the organisation can not just survive but thrive. The organisation can then move beyond the change phase and begin operating as a normal business again.
Note 1: Survivor Syndrome among staff is hindering employers, Nadine Williams, PersonnelToday.com