Left behind: Those who survive a layoff

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Here’s a timely topic from HR Roundtable panel member Dionna Keels. While much discussion has surrounded those that are laid off, what about those that survive job cuts and are left behind to pick up the pieces at the company? Keels provides her expert opinion:

So what happens to those that survive the lay off? With all the recent downsizing many employees have been left behind with the responsibility of not only continuing to fulfill their current responsibilities, but typically they are also expected to pick up additional duties. Of course, these lucky souls are still employed, so they should be happy right? Well, that depends on who you asked. Those who have been laid off would say YES but sometimes those left behind might disagree.

Employers must be sensitive to the fact that after downsizing the employees who have been spared also need to be addressed. Typically morale is down, fear increases and employee loyalty decreases. As management decides how the remaining human capital resources will be utilized it is imperative to keep the employees engaged as much as possible. Get the group together. Discuss the areas that need to be covered, and see who has an interest in what. This will help employees feel that they are part of the process and typically employees motivation is increased when they have input into their work.

It is also essential that employers communicate with employees. Remind them that they are valued and that the company appreciates their hard work during these tough times. Be cautious however not to make false promises about job security. We are in the midst of turbulent times and business conditions change constantly. Just assure them that they are valued and that you will keep the lines of communication open. Also, encourage them to come to you with concerns.

If you are an employee that has been left behind, don’t forget to reflect on the fact that accepting additional responsibilities gives you the opportunity to diversify your skills. These additional skills may be a huge asset should you find yourself needing to secure a new position. Also keep in mind, that handling challenging situation with a good attitude and initiative can go a long way in the eyes of management. Try to avoid negativity in the office by staying busy and focused on the task at hand.

Though some would say that being left behind is a double edged sword, it can certainly be an opportunity for many. Have you been left behind? If so, tell us about your experience.

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