Supporting your survivors
Updated: Jun 8, 2020
If you have been in the unfortunate position in having to make employees redundant recently, which will be a multitude of companies given what we are currently facing with Covid-19, then you now need to support those that remain.
Survivor Syndrome is a very real condition which many of your team may be experiencing and their feelings can range from relief that they remain through to anxiety about their future. Add in anger at the entire situation along with guilt that their colleagues and friends have been let go and you are looking at a very demotivated and unproductive team.
You will have to work hard to rebuild trust and confidence with your survivors so here are some top tips on how to do so:
1. Talk, email, message, send smoke signals - however you do it - communicate! Be open and honest with your surviving employees regarding the business situation to alleviate fears, stop the gossip and misinformation from getting out of control and, crucially, to allow colleagues who remain to ask questions.
Having planned communications over several weeks and months helps to keep your team updated as does creating open channels for them to ask questions. This will regain their trust and belief in your organisation - as long as your answers are honest!
2. Future plans are key for alleviating fears of uncertainty so reiterate your vision to your staff and include them in your planning for the future. Not only will they see their value and impact on the business but they will feel involved in this new phase, see how they fit in now and in the long term and, undoubtedly, you will receive insightful ideas and feedback from them.
Creating adaptation coaching workshops with your employees to tackle specific challenges will solve a lot of future headaches and allow each team member to voice their opinion.
3. Review workloads and the pressure that your newly created teams are under regularly to avoid your survivors suffering burnout or else you may well be losing more people than you planned for.
Having a clear restructure plan will allow everyone to understand their new role and what is expected of them as well as raise any concerns they may have.
Ensure leaders are checking in with their staff regularly especially concerning their well being at work and consider providing well being coaching or talks and workshops to prove to your surviving employees how much they are valued.
4. Acknowledge that you are all facing a period of upheaval and uncertainty so give credit to those who remain and remind them how vital they are to your organisation.
Provide training for your managers and HR staff throughout the process so they are fully prepared to handle questions and potentially some highly charged emotional responses.
5. Finally - celebrate! The small stuff, even the tiny wins each day are important to keep motivation high so look to congratulate people and reward them accordingly - nothing too fancy otherwise you may get accused of hypocrisy but a small gesture will go a long way.