“survivors” are subjected to continued uncertainty and increased workloads
The massive job losses and recent downsizing across multiple market sectors has been called corporate anorexia (the unemployment rate has recently surpassed that seen in the 80′s when the term was coined). Not a pretty picture, but the U.S. and world economy has produced an epidemic in overly thin corporations due to layoffs and furloughs.
Increasing workplace productivity has never been more important as more work must be done by fewer people. Those employees are subject to uncertainty and greater stress that directly impact workplace productivity. Helping increasingly stressed employees improve business productivity is an important concern and challenge for those in management.
Research suggests that it is less stressful to get laid off than to be left behind. Employed people who experience feelings of insecurity about their jobs and the future of the company display similar levels of anxiety and depression as those who are unemployed. The unemployed gradually reach a steady state of stress but the “survivors” are subjected to continued uncertainty and increased workloads. The mental state of people who are continually worried about losing their jobs “just continues to deteriorate, getting worse and worse,” says Cambridge sociologist Brendan Burchell.
Be generous with praise and genuine empathy. After downsizing, employees may begin to doubt their abilities and question their own future with the company. Layoff survivors often experience increased workloads, which can lead to burnout. If an employer mishandles the layoffs by appearing to be unfair or unfeeling or failing to reassure those left behind the situation is made much worse. Reassure employees of their value and worth to the company and let them know that management understands what has been lost during the downsizing.Corporate wellness is a good investment, with a strong return on investment. Discover TopHealth®, the fast-reading, two-page newsletter that helps motivate employees to make healthier choices.
Set goals for the changed landscape. Managers should increase efforts to set priorities, delegate projects, or bring in temporary help. Negative feelings directly impact the bottom line, lowering productivity, boosting absenteeism and increasing worker turnover. Those left behind wonder how layoffs will add to their own workloads or change their own enjoyment of the workday as friends leave. Layoff survivors may even envy their dismissed colleagues for getting out of a declining company and getting a chance for a new start.
Have a plan and communicate it. There must be an immediate and reasonable plan to assess tasks as necessary or expendable, reallocate the work, and an effort to rebuild team spirit. Communication is key to determining how best to navigate situations where the work of many people has to now be accomplished by a few.
Recognize new limitations and advantages. Managers must be aware of employee stress and what is humanly possible. Allowing employees to have a voice and additional control over aspects of their jobs can help mitigate some of the uncertainty of these times. Enable employees to learn and grow into new roles and take ownership of tasks that can give them a feeling of accomplishment and self-confidence.
Promote wellness and work-life balance. There is an increased need for worksite wellness programs since stressed and overworked employees are less likely to eat healthy meals or get enough sleep at night. Exercise routines and precious time with family and friends are neglected as employees clock extra hours. Increased workloads and time demands are huge in terms of stress on the employee and stress has many negative effects on just about any health condition. Educating and promoting wellness has never been more important than in the current environment.
Cost-effective Productivity Improvement
Working Well™ Posters give employees practical tips to target problem areas and identify opportunities for growth. Presented in a colorful, eye-catching format with easy-to-follow advice, these striking posters will remind employees to focus on improving their performance and communication every day.
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