Downsizing with Dignity


With oil prices dipping below $45 a barrel, economic downturn and job stability are major concerns for business owners, executives and employees at all levels of the organization. While multinational corporations are making headlines for mass employee layoffs, the drop in oil price is affecting organizations of all sizes in various industries, and downsizing has become a reality for many companies trying to stay afloat and cut costs.

Downsizing is one of the most dreaded jobs for management. However, when layoffs are necessary to maintain operations and achieve business objectives, it is important that the process is executed in a fashion that supports employees who are both exiting and remaining with the organization. Successful downsizing ensures departing staff are treated with dignity, while maintaining the morale and motivation of employees who are identified as being critical for the company’s continued success. Upholding organizational values and approaching layoffs with compassion and genuine care for the professional success of all your people can actually result in team growth despite a reduction in employee count. Here are five tips for maintaining workplace morale and motivating all employees when downsizing:

  1. Strategic Downsizing – Manpower planning is the first step to ensuring downsizing is the right route for your organization and results in “Right Sizing”. This involves identifying positions and people who are critical to the organization as well as those that are not aligned with the business goals and values. Mass layoff without careful consideration of individual employee contribution can result in loss of amazing talent and a scramble to rehire once business picks back up.
  1. Mitigate Risk – Ensuring your termination letters and severance packages are in accordance with employment standards, reflective of best practices and considerate of the employee’s individual situation will help minimize the risk of a termination being challenged. Delivering a poorly packaged termination makes your organization look bad and employees feel awful, which will undoubtedly spread negativity through your culture and the business community.
  1. Management Training Terminating employees is one of the least favourite and most challenging jobs your managers will do. Making sure your managers understand why layoffs are occurring and how to deliver a dignified dismissal process with compassion is critical for a successful transition of the employee and your organization.
  1. Compassionate Outplacement & Coaching – Soften the blow of a layoff by extending outplacement support to departing employees. Supporting with resume preparation, networking, preparation for interviews, and career or personality assessment to assist in their job search demonstrates genuine interest in professional development and leaves a great impression on departing employees who are better prepared to find a role that is a great fit for their skills and interests.
  1. Clear Communication & Transparency – Keeping employees in the loop on the effects the economy is having on your business, and sharing your plan for managing costs, is important to maintain a culture of transparency and ensure valuable employees aren’t jumping ship for security they don’t feel is available at their current company. While your plans for laying off specific employees should not be shared with the organization, and managing dismissals discreetly is important, it should not be viewed as a shameful event and instead considered an opportunity for professionals to find their next perfect employment fit.

If your organization is considering downsizing as an option for weathering the oil slump storm, contact Salopek & Associates for support with Manpower Planning, Strategic Downsizing and Outplacement assistance. Our certified HR Consultants are available to support your managers with the “Right Sizing” process, benefitting your people today and setting your business up for success once oil bounces back to $100 a barrel.

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