Under New Management
After a Downsizing, How to Motivate?
By KELLEY HOLLAND
DOWNSIZING. Restructuring. Headcount reduction. Whatever they are called, layoffs instill dread, guilt or both in managers. The loss of a job is among life’s most traumatic events, and even many hard-nosed managers hate to force that experience on their colleagues.
Because of this, managers can become so consumed by the prospect of firing people that they fail to adequately reassure and remotivate the employees who remain.
But they make this mistake at their peril. Study after study has found that employers who eliminate jobs may not bolster productivity over the long run. Too often, their anxious and overworked remaining employees become risk-averse and unproductive, or leave for other jobs. As companies hire new workers or turn to outside vendors to compensate, the short-term savings from layoffs can evaporate.
The wobbly economy is producing a steady stream of layoff announcements — the number of extended mass layoffs rose 8 percent in the second quarter, based on preliminary numbers, versus the period a year earlier. So it’s more important than ever for managers to understand how best to handle these downsizings, not just for those who lose their jobs, but also for those who are still working.