April 7, 2016

Article

Maintaining employee morale through a restructure

The business environment is a challenging place, no matter what your industry might be. Restructuring and layoffs are an unfortunate but necessary reality. Still, the fact that these things occur with some regularity doesn’t mean employees are any more comfortable with them. Rather, eyebrows rise and ears prick up at the very mention of the word “restructure.”

Explaining that a restructure is a response to economic developments outside of your control or demanded by the rapid evolution of your sector isn’t likely to assuage concerns. Employers are well aware that the specter of threatened profits is enough to cut costs through layoffs, but workers are sometimes left to blow in the breeze when the math becomes all about who stays and who goes.

Employee uncertainty is hardly the only side-effect. Managers eager to avoid confrontations with workers they may know personally will usually reduce all dialogue exchanges to announcing personnel decisions after the fact, when any opportunity for team involvement in the process has already passed. This is no way to maintain employee morale through a difficult time.

It’s common knowledge that employee health and well-being decline when their employer institutes a restructure. And it isn’t just those workers who lose their job that suffer. The people who stay are often left questioning their job security, both in the short term and in the future. This is the so-called “layoff survivor syndrome” that can curtail workplace productivity when it’s needed most.

How can restructured companies calm workers’ worries over their roles and restore or even improve confidence? There are proven ways for doing it. According to a report by Melcrum, an organization must listen, communicate and recognize to maintain high employee morale and encourage productivity in the wake of a major change.

Be receptive to feedback
Relationships between workers and managers are the first to crack following a restructure. Hard-earned trust, even with employees who have been a part of the organization for years, can be lost. There’s no easy or fast way to fix this. Nor will divisions heal by simply looking the other way. These issues need to be addressed in an open setting, with managers attentive and receptive.

Acknowledging low morale early is essential. Don’t let it be an elephant in the room. Tell workers that you want their help in making the company a better place. Encourage feedback from everyone who has it to give. This process is about visibility and a willingness to hear constructive criticism. Any key areas of improvement should be instituted as an evolving internal communications platform.

Communication is crucial
Just as organizations count on their employees to be forthright and evenhanded in what they feel needs to get better, so too must companies themselves communicate their goals and objectives. These should be, at least in part, shaped by the feedback garnered from the surveys or discussion groups used to hold conversations.

Management’s job is to relay clearly and precisely what the restructuring and development process will look like. What changes can be expected? When will they happen? Who is involved and how? Communication is the best way for avoiding the potentially demoralizing rumors that can infect and spoil an otherwise revitalized workplace.

There are any number of methods for effective communication, from public, town hall style meetings to face-to-face discussions. But the best tool for instantaneously reaching across all boundaries in a highly personal way is through live video hosted by an enterprise content delivery network, allowing managers endlessly flexible and creative means for getting their message out.

Recognize the team
Video goes beyond just showing the path forward. It’s also perfect for the third step suggested by Melcrum, which is to recognize the successes and achievements of your employees. It’s easy for workers to sink into a funk after a restructure, so emphasizing wins over losses is necessary for keeping morale high. Do it with video.

Support your employees by thanking them with videos highlighting their contributions to the team. These can be small feats – a met project deadline, for instance – or big ones, like a major new acquisition. Since videos are so easily shared over your company’s network, other employees will see them and be inspired to warrant a celebration of their own.