Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tip of the Day: Effective communication through layoffs in three stages

Although survey results show employers forecast that “the pace of layoffs may be slowing from the staggering highs of the last few months, ... there will certainly be more to come,” admits Kathryn Yates, global director of communication consulting at Watson Wyatt. “While employers continue to make difficult cost-cutting decisions, they can still take important steps to keep remaining workers engaged and productive on the job.”

Watson Wyatt suggests three stages of communications efforts for employers before, during and following layoffs:

Prepare leaders early. Leaders should initially deliver key messages about business conditions and actions, and frontline managers should personalize and reinforce them.

Clearly communicate the rationale for layoffs, and don’t shy away from tough questions. Transparency is critical to maintaining trust. Employees leaving the organization will want to know what support the company will provide them and hear that their service has been valued. Employees remaining will want to know whether their own jobs are secure. Messages to both groups should remain consistent.

Engage remaining employees by communicating a vision for the future. Highly engaged employees are more resilient during times of change and will drive performance in critical times. Deliver messages about the organization’s long-term vision, clarify how employees can contribute to it and set up realistic expectations for sharing information and offering support going forward.

EBN recently spent "Five Minutes With ..." Yates for our podcast series. Download the audio here.

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