Very few companies these days have managed to sidestep the corporate restructure. When there’s a buyout, change in management, or a desire for more efficiency, the inevitable unrest results in loss of employees as they jump ship to another company they perceive as more stable. Then there’s the loss of experienced workers via early retirement or buyouts.
Corporate restructures (or reorgs) as a strategy to increase competitiveness or to change direction may happen multiple times within the same company.
How can corporations keep their best people through a company restructure? How do you avoid the paranoia, fear, and uncertainty that a reorg announcement creates? Is there a way to overcome the 20% loss in productivity that retained employees typically experience after their survivor-stress and loss of enthusiasm? A study by Charlie Trevor of University of Wisconsin–Madison and Anthony Nyberg of the University of South Carolina uncovered that downsizing a workforce by 1% leads to a 31% increase in voluntary turnover the following year.
The following are strategies to keep your best people through a company restructure and to keep them engaged afterward:
1) Be open & transparent as much as possible.
Do not keep the impending reorg a secret because secrets have a way of getting out. If the employees learn about the restructure this way, you’ll have even more of a battle to keep your key people, and trust will plummet. Give a clear reason for the restructure and outline the benefits to the company by doing so. Be specific so that employees understand this plan has been evaluated thoroughly, and management is not taking this direction flippantly. If you handle this thoughtfully, with honesty and integrity, that message will resonate with brand-watchers when this information is shared on social media and in public.
2) Communicate at all levels
Tantamount to a successful transition, while keeping key employees intact and motivated, is communication. Divulge information on typical channels but also open avenues for employees to ask questions of their direct reports at any time. Share the company goals and what is to be accomplished with the restructure.
3) Communicate their value
Convey that your workers’ wellbeing is important, that you understand the impact of uncertainty on them, and are attempting to make this transition as considerate as possible. Ensure they understand the company is invested in each one of them and management realizes the impact of losing skilled employees on their bottom line.
4) Be Proactive
Continue to communicate throughout the process. Proactive communication should include any upcoming changes, recent decisions, or to reassure that nothing has changed. Squash any potential for gossip and secrets by encouraging open discussion among the staff, management, and human resource department throughout the process.
5) Share the Vision Individually
Create a committee of key employees to help troubleshoot and resolve any issues throughout the restructuring process. If that’s not viable, let your key employees know your vision for them after the company has gone through restructuring.
Consider opportunities for existing employees to retrain for new positions and share that information during the restructuring process.
7) Provide services
Inevitably there will be layoffs or retirement packages offered. Provide counseling and support to those workers who will be moving onto another job. Connect them with recruiters such as Step Up Recruiting to help them transition into new careers. Give your redundant employees an opportunity for growth and help them to be successful with their next career endeavor.