What’s the Best Thing You Can Do After Letting People Go? Stay Connected.
You may have just had to make one of the hardest decisions as a business owner or leader or you may be about to make. You have had to furlough, lay off employees, or you are afraid you will have to. It’s a horrible decision to make, whether your business was shut down by Executive Order or the environment is such that even if you are open, you are not bringing the money to make ends meet. Either way, it’s hard.
And as a business owner and leader, you do what you need to do – dig back into the business, adjust to the changing landscape, figure out how to keep your head above water to ride out this storm. You wait anxiously for the day you can call these same employees and recall them back to work. Yes, you want that, they want that. Between now and then, it is extremely important that you stay connected with these employees.
Here are a few ideas to stay connected:
Connect With Them Individually. Call these employees and talk to them, frequently and consistently. Depending on your relationship with them, you could call every few days but for sure at least once a week. The purpose is to connect. Period. Ask them how they are doing, ask how their families are doing, ask what’s been going well, ask what hasn’t been going well. You don’t have to solve, you just need to show that you care. Listen. Be empathetic. Share what’s happening in your family. This is about them, not about you.
If they ask or you want, you can also communicate any updates with them. But you can share what has been happening, like how you have adjusted your services and when you anticipate return dates (make sure you say anticipate so you aren’t promising anything). It can be something as straightforward as, “I wanted to be sure to share any updates I had about our plans if you’d like to hear more. I don’t have all the answers, and we all know things may change, but I wanted to be able to share what I do know with you.”
By connecting with them individually, you are strengthening the relationship with you and the employee. That said, it’s also important to keep relationships strong between team members.
Keep The Connections Within The Team. The purpose here is to keep the team relationships strong – and again, this is about them, not you. You can do this in a few ways. Did you have team meetings? Maybe at the beginning of a shift or the same day every week? If so, repurpose those times for a voluntary get-together (Key word - voluntary. Remember, they’re going through their own emotions of this time and may not be ready yet). Use technology, like Zoom, to set up virtual calls with the team. The calls don’t have to be long, but enough to connect. Have them share their own perspectives and tips. Think about how close we grow to our teammates and co-workers. Offering a voluntary outlet like this can be a much-appreciated reprieve.
Remember: These are connection calls are not work calls. The intent is not to have a mandatory session to discuss work. Employees should also understand from you that this is not work time, but truly a chance to connect.
Employees who feel valued and cared for will be looking forward to the day they can come back to work. They will be fully engaged and excited to work with you to achieve your business goals.
If you liked the tips within this post, reach out to Kristen and Erin directly!