Maintaining the morale and commitment of your team during times of uncertainty about the company's future can be quite challenging. Your goal is to provide reassurance and backing to your team while simultaneously ensuring they remain responsible and actively contribute to propelling the organisation forward.
Work has become increasingly challenging recently. Certain firms are declaring layoffs and recruitment halts, while others are reducing financial allocations, delaying projects, or grappling with the uncertainties of returning to the office. This has resulted in elevated stress levels among employees and managers, notes Susan Fowler, CEO of Mojo Moments, a leadership training company, and the author of "Why Motivating People Doesn't Work and What Does.” Employees and employers are both caught in the middle of these pressures.
“You’re under pressure to get results and productivity, but you might not feel like you have the power or authority to grant the things you think will motivate people,” says Fowler.
The recent surge in layoffs can be attributed to various factors, including the economic downturn and increasing inflation. Layoffs in June 2023 decreased by 49% compared to the start of this year. Nonetheless, it's premature to conclude that the trend has stopped. The economy still confronts numerous challenges, and layoffs could resume if conditions worsen.
Unfortunately, in 2022, over 15.4 million people were laid off in the United States. 2020 was the worst year for layoffs with 41.7 million people in the US losing their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, there has been mass layoffs at major companies like Google, Ericsson, Microsoft, Amazon, and Disney.
Amazon, which revealed its intentions late last year to eliminate over 18,000 positions, first released 10,000 jobs in November and subsequently cut an additional 8,000 due to an "unpredictable economy." This move followed CEO Andy Jassy's acknowledgment that the company had hired rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How to keep your team afloat amid layoffs, cost-cutting, and uncertainties
How can you support your team in maintaining productivity amid job security concerns? What avenues for career development can you explore when raises and promotions are not an option? Moreover, what strategies can you implement to safeguard your team against burnout during this period of uncertainty?
Keeping your team afloat amidst layoffs, cost-cutting, and uncertainties requires strong leadership, effective communication, and a focus on employee well-being. Here are some strategies to help you navigate these challenging times:
Be open and honest with your team about the current situation, the reasons behind the layoffs and cost-cutting measures, and what it means for the organization's future.
Provide regular updates, even if there is no significant news to share. Uncertainty breeds anxiety, so consistent communication is crucial.
Empathy and support:
Show empathy and understanding towards your team's concerns and anxieties. Encourage open dialogue and active listening to address their fears and questions.
Offer emotional support through one-on-one check-ins, counseling services, or access to resources for managing stress and anxiety.
Clear direction and priorities:
Clearly define the team's short-term and long-term priorities in light of the changes. Help your team understand how their work fits into the bigger picture.
Emphasize the importance of adaptability and resilience as key skills during uncertain times.
Help your team optimize resources by streamlining processes, eliminating inefficiencies, and finding cost-saving solutions.
Encourage innovation and creative problem-solving to do more with less.
Invest in the professional development of your team members to ensure they remain competitive and valuable to the organization. This can include training, certifications, or cross-training in different areas.
Recognition and motivation:
Acknowledge and celebrate small wins and achievements. Recognize your team's efforts and hard work, especially during challenging times.
Maintain a positive and motivating atmosphere to keep team morale high.
Foster team unity:
Encourage collaboration and teamwork to accomplish shared goals. A united team can better weather uncertainties.
Consider team-building activities to strengthen relationships and trust among team members.
Flexible work arrangements:
If possible, offer flexible work arrangements like remote work or adjusted hours to accommodate personal circumstances and reduce stress.
Financial wellness programs:
Provide resources and information on financial wellness to help team members manage their finances during economic uncertainty.
Develop contingency plans for different scenarios, including worst-case scenarios. This can help reduce anxiety by showing that the organization is prepared for various outcomes.
Stay committed to diversity and inclusion:
Ensure that diversity and inclusion remain a priority even during cost-cutting measures. A diverse and inclusive team can offer unique perspectives and solutions.
Feedback and adaptation:
Continually gather feedback from your team on how they are coping and what support they need. Be willing to adapt your strategies based on this feedback.
Remember that the keys to keeping your team afloat during tough times are resilience and adaptability. By fostering a culture of transparency, empathy, and support, you can help your team navigate challenges and emerge stronger on the other side.