Managing Workforce Reductions the Right Way

Written by: Paul Howard
Published on: 23 Jan 2024

As a business leader or employer, you understand the importance of creating a cohesive workforce that works together to drive progress and innovation. It can be difficult if layoffs are necessary or there is a need to decrease labour costs due to economic pressures. As the employer, you want to ensure a smooth transition for departing employees, maintain trust and productivity from remaining employees, and reduce stress from HR teams and managers. And while the situation may feel overwhelming, it is possible to manage workforce reductions in a way that enables faster transitions for outgoing employees, minimizes risk, and maximizes productivity of the go-forward workforce.

Outplacement services can help ease the pain of workplace reductions for all involved. A well-thought-out reorganization can both enable operational efficiencies and reinforce your organization’s values. Organizations embarking on transformational journeys should consider three distinct audiences as they consider how to operationalize the new structure:

  • Departing Employees

  • Remaining Employees

  • Leaders

Here is what you should know about using outplacement services during restructuring events.

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How to Support Departing Employees During Layoffs

It is important to support your outgoing employees during workforce reductions. After all, they’ll continue to be brand ambassadors long after they leave. One way to do this is by providing them with outplacement services that include assessments, technology, and experienced coaches to help them navigate to their next role. This can minimize anxiety and stress during a difficult time while providing them with valuable resources on their journey forward.

Employers can benefit from quickly finding departing employees new opportunities in several ways.

  • It helps protect the employer’s reputation within the industry and with customers, by demonstrating their commitment to supporting

  • their workforce – even through transition.

  • When remaining employees see their colleagues land their next role quickly, it encourages a more positive work environment for those

  • who remain, bolstering morale which can help maintain productivity and foster team collaboration.

  • It reduces unemployment costs associated with layoffs and ultimately saves money for the company in the long run.

How to Support Remaining Employees During Layoffs

The remaining staff will likely be feeling the effects of layoffs as well – whether it be fear or distrust in the company they work for or a decrease in morale due to fewer colleagues around them. Employers should continue to focus on maintaining trust between themselves and their employees by keeping communication lines open and being transparent about changes in the organization as much as possible. Managers should also make sure that employees have the necessary support systems in place through touchpoints such as team meetings and one-on-one check-ins, so that they can safely express how they are feeling and remain productive at work.

Employers can benefit from supporting remaining employees during layoffs in several ways.

  • It helps bolster loyalty and trust between employers and existing employees, which can lead to improved productivity in the workplace.

  • It encourages a positive work environment for remaining employees by providing them with access to additional resources such as job counselling and career advice.

  • It may make the process of recruiting new talent easier by promoting a positive company culture that attracts top talent.

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How to Support Leaders During Layoffs

Leaders are often tasked with making tough decisions when it comes to workforce reductions, which can lead to elevated levels of stress for them, too. Companies should provide managers with tools such as training sessions or workshops so that they are equipped with enough knowledge about how best to handle layoffs within their teams. Far too often, Managers are left in the cold while the organization focuses on the mechanics of the workforce reduction – meanwhile, Managers are tasked with bringing the vision to life with little-to-no support.

Leaders need resources that equip them to prepare the organization for the change, effectively communicate the why(s) behind the change, and earn the support (dare I say belief) of the organization in the go-forward strategy. Emailed generic “talking points” pages simply don’t prepare the Leaders to truly lead during this critical time for the company. Leaders need more.

Consider boosting the available mental health support available in your employee assistance program or engage with a resource specifically to support your managers during the restructuring. Having additional mental health resources available to your managers could significantly help them manage the onslaught of emotions they will encounter during this difficult time and even reduce stress. Providing rich coaching and learning experiences for your Leaders will enable them to more effectively lead through transformation.

Restructuring events also place a tremendous amount of stress on an organization’s HR team. Outplacement services provide the HR team with professional support in managing the layoff process, ensuring that employees receive the guidance and resources they need to transition smoothly to new opportunities. This can alleviate some of the burden on the HR team and allow them to focus on other critical tasks.

Ultimately, using outplacement services during workforce reductions can help both the departing and remaining employees, as well as HR teams and leaders. Outplacement solutions, like those offered by Right Management, support the entire organization - helping ensure a smooth transition for exiting employees, minimizing impact to an organization’s reputation, and enabling the go-forward organization to deliver its business objectives.

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