During times of job loss and redundancy, there is usually a great deal of focus on managing the redundancy process and helping staff who are leaving the business.
Often, there is much less attention paid to those remaining in the workplace. The exiting staff are focusing on their future via the outplacement process, what about the remaining staff who have to deal with the loss of their colleague/s? What about you, the manager, how do you manage those who remain?
Firstly, you need to understand how your team might be feeling. Their reactions can include any or all of the following:
- Being concerned that more changes are to come and they may be next to leave
- Being worried about an increase in their workload and an increase in pressure as a result of the reduced number of staff
- Feeling as though their trust in the business is shaken
- Being concerned for those who have left
Often morale drops during this time and resignations increase, that’s only natural in the short term. You need to recognise that some staff will accept the change more quickly than others. Some will resist or be upset by the change, so be aware of and try to understand how different team members are responding. This is the time to spend time with your team, listen to them and focus them on the future as best you can.
Be mindful that the emotional reactions by staff remaining with the business can have a significant impact on their work performance, commitment, mental health and well-being.
Common reactions of remaining staff, which if you see your team exhibit, recognise this is normal:
- Relief: The immediate response to not being made redundant
- Guilt: Questioning whether they deserve to keep their job
- Envy: Thinking how their retrenched colleague might spend a large redundancy payment
- Resentment: Increased work, reduced morale and no change in personal benefit
- Anger: Directed at the business or those responsible for the decision
It’s okay for your team to have negative emotions for a short while, but it’s not helpful to them, you, or the organisation for the team to wallow for too long. Remember, as a manager it’s your job to empathise with your team, whilst supporting the business decision for the change then focus your team on the future.
Also recognise that the process of retrenching staff can be stressful as a manager, so ensure you look after yourself. If you feel stressed or anxious, speak to your HR representative or find someone who can listen to you and provide support.