Remote Working
5 minute read

How to talk and listen to your remote team after redundancies at work

People on a video call

If you’re currently in the process of making redundancies, you’re not alone - nearly 30% of British companies will be making cuts in the next three months.1 Redundancies aren’t just tough on the employees who are let go. Remaining staff may well feel anxious, angry – even guilty. In this article, we’ll answer your questions about how to communicate redundancies to remaining employees.

Key Takeaways

  • Communicate with remaining employees with compassion and honesty. Present the reasons behind your decision to make redundancies clearly and consistently.
  • Skip the scripts. Instead, create slide decks and self-record videos to communicate a comprehensive message to remaining employees. Offer managers training in compassionate communication and active listening.
  • Be authentic and vulnerable. If you’re feeling emotional, let employees see that. It means they’ll feel comfortable sharing their own feelings and concerns.
  • Keep communication channels open, especially if you’re working remotely.
    Employee surveys, pulse polls, social media channels, and focus group meetings can all help you understand what your employees are worried about and help frame your communications.
  • Ask the difficult questions, listen to employee feedback without defensiveness, and demonstrate that you have taken their concerns and criticism on board.

 

Q: How should I talk about the decision to make redundancies with the remaining team?

A: Transparency is vital at this point. We’d recommend starting with a townhall-style video conference for all remaining staff, led by the CEO. Schedule your all-hands meeting using an Employee Experience Platform like Learn Amp, so you can invite employees to submit their questions beforehand via a short survey.

During this meeting, be open and honest about why you had to make redundancies, how you reached the decision, and what impact it will have on the remaining employees. At Learn Amp, we call this “benevolent honesty” – being transparent but compassionate. Make sure that you explain why you have had to reject alternatives to job cuts (such as pay freezes or job sharing).

Now is also a time for senior leadership to show vulnerability. Edelman, a global communications firm, suggests that the new role of the CEO is the “chief empathy officer.” CEOs and business leaders, they argue, should be emotionally accessible and compassionate in their communications. Employees will feel far more understood and thus more likely to remain engaged and positive.2

Record this initial conversation and share it via your learning platform to make sure everyone gets to see it. Follow up with a feedback survey afterwards, to make sure that your communications so far have been effective.  

 

Q: How do I make sure our communications are consistent throughout the business?

A: Consistency is critical when you’re communicating about this sensitive topic. However, while presenting a united front is important, you must avoid coming off as scripted and uncaring.

Instead, keep communications clear and to the point. Create a concise slide deck that addresses key concerns, your strategy moving forward, and how this will affect remaining staff. Upload this presentation to Learn Amp or your Learning Management System (LMS) for employees to revisit if they want to.

At Learn Amp, when we’re communicating information remotely, that is too nuanced to be expressed well in an email, we invite senior leaders to self-record short videos and upload them to our platform for everyone to view and respond with questions.

In addition, to help provide additional support to staff, you can use Learn Amp (or your platform of choice) to create “learnlists” of useful resources. These could include content on managing stress, where employees can go for support, and information on your new company goals in the light of your changed circumstances.

 

Interested to find out more about how Learn Amp can help you navigate uncertain times and improve your employee experience?

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Q: Now that we’re all working remotely, I’m finding it hard to know what the mood of the organisation is. How can I get a handle on how people are feeling?

It can be hard to know what your remaining employees will find most useful, or get a sense of the overall mood, when you’re working remotely. Here are some ways to listen remotely:

  • Conduct small focus groups with line managers and employees via video conference to find out more about what the prevailing concerns are. Don’t avoid asking the difficult questions. Ask employees how they’re feeling about the company and management and what you could have done better. Before you can start moving forwards, you need to make sure you’ve addressed the current situation fully and allowed employees to process their feelings and concerns.
  • Use “pulse polls” to check how employees are feeling and confirm that you’ve been sufficiently clear with your communications to date. Employee Experience Platforms like Learn Amp enable you to set up quick, informal single-question surveys to take the pulse of the organisation.
  • To track your team’s mood, try a mood tracking app like Mood trackers work like a mini-journal, sending employees a prompt to rate their current mood via email. Where pulse polls can invite employees to answer questions, mood trackers focus more on measuring emotions over time. Alternatively, you could simply set up a chatbot to ask team members how they are feeling.3
  • Spend time reviewing your internal social media to spot patterns and identify frequently asked questions. Some employees will feel too worried about their job security to ask questions openly. To fix that, set up an anonymous questions box. Tools like Incognea and Free Suggestion Box let you collect honest suggestions and questions from your remote team with complete anonymity.  
  • Keep the channel open between management and employees. Offer weekly “ask me anything” sessions with the CEO or the Head of People. Or have regular office open hours using an app like Calendly, which allows employees to book in a slot to discuss concerns about the redundancies or their new role with their line manager.
  • Once you’ve gathered feedback and questions, it’s vital that you turn these into action. To rebuild trust and morale, directly address questions both during meetings, and with regular video updates uploaded by managers to Learn Amp or your LMS. Use these updates to demonstrate that you’ve listened to feedback and concerns and show how you will be addressing them in the future.

Handling redundancy communications remotely isn’t easy. However, approaching the situation with sensitivity and compassion – with both exiting and remaining employees – will help you retain a high-performing and engaged working environment even during these difficult times.


 

Resources

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jul/16/29-of-uk-businesses-to-cut-jobs-in-next-three-months-survey-says   
  2. https://www.edelman.com/covid-19/perspectives/ceos-new-role-chief-empathy-officer
  3. https://hanno.co/blog/here-is-the-slackbot-we-built-to-eliminate-remote-isolation/