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Maintaining employee trust in a volatile economy: three ways to reinvigorate your organization following massive layoffs

I recently spoke with the director of state-wide organization that is undergoing massive layoffs due to new reforms becoming effective this year. The director and I spoke about the need for long-term planning, strategic foresight, and positioning his organization to be adaptive and resilient in the midst of this volatile and uncertain environment.

The problem he posed was: “How can we start to discuss a bright exciting and creative future when we just laid-off a large percentage of the workforce?” As with every organization, the ability to function and operate cohesively is paramount to success both in the short and long-term. However, when an organization undergoes such changes as large scale job cuts, the remaining employees tend to deal with several issues that directly affect the organization’s ability to carry out its purpose. Most organizations will confront the following challenges:

  • Damage control (What will this transition leave behind in regards to employee trust and organizational buy-in?)
  • Reassuring the remaining employees that they are key members of the organization and intricate to its long-term success.
  • Managing employee guilt (Why them and not me?), employee skepticism (I have my job now, but for how long?), and employee loyalty (I need to start looking for a plan A, B, and C).

Here are three things you can do today to reinvigorate your organization in the midst of such challenges:

  • Audit employee uncertainty: This may sound strange at first, but uncovering employee uncertainty about the future is critical to the long-term health and success of your organization. This information is very valuable especially when it relates to the individual and the critical buy-in needed to execute a strategic vision for the future.
  • Encourage collective visioning: Just as with collective-bargaining, employees want to take an active role in the long-term vision and strategy of the organization. There’s no better way to rapidly achieve employee buy-in than by engaging in collective visioning. This again helps to reinforce that each remaining member of the organization has a key role to play.
  • Foster organic growth: This is simply allowing the natural process of leadership and growth to emerge, ensuring the security, vitality, and longevity, of your own ecosystem. One of the many reasons employees today look for new opportunities is that they feel their skills and abilities are not properly utilized in the organization. By fostering an organic growth environment, you are allowing employees to naturally showcase and contribute skills and abilities of which you may otherwise have not been aware.

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