As many organizations and their leaders deal with the current economic downturn, they are also restructuring to ensure business continuity and sustainability. Organizational restructuring, however, often comes with layoffs, or the organization experiences attrition.
While layoffs disrupt potential financial hardships that an organization could experience due to an economic downturn, they are also an interruption in the drift of how an organization operates. A new norm must be created. However, employees may see it as doing more with less. In addition, employees left behind may be dealing with a sense of loss as they no longer work with their usual colleagues. Some employees may experience being overwhelmed as they take on the work of those no longer with the organization. Seeing what’s possible is often left out of the equation when an announcement is made about impending layoffs. To get ahead of being laid off, people leave. What can organizational leaders do to ensure that the employees left behind are engaged and bring their most significant contribution to the work? Communicate!
Communication lays the groundwork for successful organizational restructuring and transformation. Without communication, one can expect that people will swim in the drift of the current VUCA environment right out of the door and on to greener pastures. Communication, however, requires planning, transparency, and checking in with employees to enroll them in what becomes possible as the organization makes its transition.
Communication about restructuring and layoffs cannot be approached in a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants manner. Communication requires planned, clear messaging that comes early and often. What must be considered is what communication will be delivered, how it will be delivered, and how often. Consider that too much communication can eventually lead to deaf ears; especially if it is sent via email. Too little communication can lead to speculation, water cooler talk, uncertainty, and a mass exodus of talent. The communication messaging must be consistent, otherwise, it will leave people guessing or confused.
Transparency Leads to Possibility
Communication starts at the top and must be cascaded to other leaders to convey the message to the masses. When communication is transparent, it builds a sense of trust. People know where they and the company stand. How communication is delivered is just as important as the communication itself. Many organizations have opted for tried-and-true town-hall meetings, encouraging employees to bring their background conversations about the restructuring to the foreground. This approach allows employees to ask questions that others may not otherwise ask. In addition, town halls enable the CEO and others to connect with people personally.
Other methods of providing transparent communication include virtual town halls, using monitors, webinars, etc. However, leaders must be careful to not overuse these forms of communication as they mostly do not allow employees to ask real-time questions and get real-time answers. Allowing employees to bring those background conversations to the foreground is essential to building trust and paints a picture of what can become possible. People want to know how they fit into the organization’s future.
Make sure people are alright. Employee well-being is essential to the operations and growth of an organization. Simply asking if people are okay will make a world of difference to them, and it shapes the employee experience. Quiet quitting has been a buzz phrase over the last year or so. People quietly quit when they are boxed in. In other words, when people are committed to an organization and become overwhelmed by the workload, they feel unappreciated or unrecognized or experience a lack of leadership support, and they cannot see a future that they can be a part of, they quietly quit and they make an exit.
In any organization, people make a difference. Communication is the key to successful organizational restructuring, retention, employee satisfaction, and well-being that can improve the organization’s bottom line.