Workplace Rights

Weekly (5/10/10)

Topic of the Week  Day of the Living Dead - Managing After a Layoff

· DO over-communicate.
· DO give a chance to contribute.
· DO help people you let go.
· DON'T hold back on recognition.

Managing after a layoff is tough, because you're left with a group of people mourning the loss of their colleagues, fearing that they could be next, while trying to do their job and the jobs of two laid-off coworkers. Which reminds me of the one-week-old British puppy that was being washed in the toilet by his four year old master. I think you see where this is going. The poor puppy was accidently flushed down the toilet. He was finally rescued after being trapped in a sewage pipe for four hours.

Unfortunately most of the people you're managing relate to that dog, like in this economy they could be flushed at any moment. You've got to make them feel like they're safe so they can focus on their work. Remember, that dog survived, and so can the performance of your team. I've included three Do's and one Don't to boost performance after a layoff. For more, check out Bob Nelson's "1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook (Workman, 2002).

DO over-communicate. In Chicago they say "Vote early, vote often." That should also be your communications mantra, to keep the "survivors" engaged and committed to what you're trying to do. Give updates during staff meetings, send out emails, blog, give updates on the company intranet, whatever it takes to make your corner of the bureaucracy the most informed in the company.

DO give a chance to contribute. Call me old school, but I'm a believer that more brains beat fewer brains. That's why I think it's so important to get everyone at the table during tough times to brainstorm on how to make each company dollar go further. Don't just close your door and come up with a plan, create an ongoing dialogue with your people to review your options and creative survival strategies. I've even heard of companies where employees voluntarily offered to cut back their hours, take early retirement or take an unpaid sabbatical, but only when they felt like they were a part of the process.

DO help people you let go. "Gone and forgotten" could be the slogan for how most companies treat people who get laid off. This overlooks one important fact, the people who survive the layoff see how you treat the people who've been let go. That's why it's so important to help ease their transition by offering career counseling, office space and whatever else you can to help people land on their feet.

DON'T hold back on recognition. There can be a tendency after a layoff to get very stingy with recognition. But remember, no matter what is going on with the budget, the best way to reduce the need for future layoffs is to engage the brains of your remaining people. And the best way to do this is to recognize and reward great performance. You don't have to go all Mary Kay, and give each one a pink Cadillac, you can recognize cheaply and effectively.

Follow these tips and your company won't go down the drain after a layoff.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Also check out his newly revised best-seller "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

Thought of the Week

"The company calls it 'downsizing' or 'rightsizing.' My own informal 'Name the Layoff' contest produced some other euphemisms: Retroactive Hiring Freeze, Resume Revision Days, Amway Opportunity Time, and Corporation Lite."

–Dale Dauten

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week


    Back from the dead…Companies are starting to hire back laid off workers

    • 57% of workers laid off in the last six months have been rehired by their employer
    • 71% who have been laid off in the last six months who haven't been hired would be willing to work for their former employer. However, of these workers:
    • 22% indicated they'd only go back for more pay.


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