How to find the positives in having to reduce your workforce
As some sectors of the global economy are recovering from the financial crises that erupted in 2007, others continue to struggle. This week the British steel industry issued a hard-hitting reminder and announced that more than one in six workers will lose their jobs. Companies of all sizes continue to be faced with tough decisions often resulting in cutting jobs to reduce overheads. However, redundancies often bring a new set of difficulties for senior managers and CEOs.
In this situation, your main task is to keep your remaining employees motivated and ensure that they receive the necessary support to do their jobs well. While often seen as a negative, reducing staff also offers organisations opportunity for change. If managed effectively, redundancies can result in happy employees, more efficient processes and stronger leadership.
Too often redundancies result in nothing more than reducing the workforce and saving the related costs. If the existing workload continues without restructuring, this will result in your remaining employees being over-worked and stressed.
Your corporate strategy and goals will need to be adapted to manage and truly take advantage of the reduction in your workforce. The reorganisation can only be successful, if you have a strategy in place before the process is started. This involves evaluating the essential processes, workload and manpower before laying people off. The strategy cannot be reactive, it must be visionary.
In order to manage this period of change successfully, your organisation needs to:
- Develop a New Way of Doing Business. Staff reductions must be accompanied by a change in business strategy if your organisation expects to weather the transition effectively. Redundancies provide the perfect opportunity for your organisation to review systems and procedures. Finding ways of working more efficiently is crucial to ensure the long-term survival of your company.
- Reorganise Fairly. As senior manager, you are responsible for restructuring the existing workload fairly. Without this, your people will get tired and you risk losing good talent. If you focus on your remaining workforce and see them as people rather than liabilities, your company is more likely to recover from the shock of redundancies and emerge from the inevitable depressive phase more quickly.
- Keep Staff Motivated. It is imperative for you to keep your remaining staff motivated. You must therefore know your people and understand exactly what drives and energises them. The employees who are staying may feel a combination of relief and fear. You will need to respect their reactions and feelings and handle them empathetically.
Your employees will feel more empowered, if they feel involved with and are kept informed of the new organisational focus. This sense of purpose and worth will help your staff to negotiate this period of change more successfully. It will ensure positive energy levels at a time when they are most likely to drop. This is a sure way to avoid a potential loss in productivity.
- Demonstrate Leadership. Some senior managers may underestimate the effects of redundancies on their organisation. You must refrain from focusing on simply saving money, take responsibility for the reduction in staff and the details of the restructuring process. You must be prepared to see the process through, rather than offloading the implementation to the middle management. Strong leadership will help you gain your employees’ trust and enable you to take them with you.
Restructuring As An Opportunity
Redundancies don’t necessarily reduce the workload. However, they do change the way in which work has to be managed. Whilst reducing your workforce is a hard decision to have to take, successful companies will see restructuring as an opportunity to tighten up processes and make them more efficient. They will also cultivate strong leadership. Investing in leadership development in times of change will make it easier for you to negotiate transitional periods and to ensure that your organisation strives.