Staff reductions are one of the most serious situations any company can face. Not only must these types of decisions take regulations and laws into account, but competent HR departments must also navigate complex and interlocking implementations of severance options and outplacement services. In today’s world of instant and highly visible communication through social media platforms such as Glassdoor and Twitter, companies must attend to public relations concerns and potential legal action if things are not executed competently and ethically.

The best HR departments work tirelessly to ensure they follow basic compliance steps. However, it is easy to make missteps when we are called upon to also address the emotional toll and consequences of these decisions.

Companies undergoing significant change today require a fresh approach. Gone are the days when it was enough to simply minimize litigation risk and attend to the standard check-lists. Today’s HR professionals are also seen as strategic partners, and are expected to place significant effort in leading organizations through these types of change. To do this effectively requires quick pivoting and rapid responses so that the remaining employees of the business does not lose their cultural glue and enter into a downward performance spiral.

Successful organizations know that it takes people to get things done. They also know that formal and informal relationships are vital to success. Team effectiveness has been studied for decades, from Bruce Tuckman’s foundational Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing model created back in 1965 to comprehensive coaching and corporate culture models used today.

In our effort to grow high performing teams and zero in on what needs to happen for employees to achieve goals and objectives, we often neglect to pay as much attention to rebuilding team morale after a period of transition. This period of transition may be most noticeable after a staff reduction, but it happens any time people are asked to let go of their old ways of doing things and adapt to something new.

While it is important for HR and company executives to recognize the emotions people go through during times of transition, it is even more important to take a pro-active stance to not only support them but also to empower them to be part of co-creating a new identity that accelerates their adoption of new ways of operating. This is helpful for the employee, their manager, and the company leadership, and absolutely contributes to the bottom line.

At TalentBridge, we find that taking a dynamic approach to addressing the needs of employees immediately after a transition or major change facilitates building a new sense of purpose and a willingness to plan for success. Our work with clients as they manage the staff transition process is enhanced when we also assist employees and managers through the complex challenges they face by addressing employees’ feelings of confusion and anxiety, resistance to change and loss of engagement.

Companies that recognize how important it is to address the needs of employees who remain after a significant staff transition understand that rebuilding a strong community is both art and science. People constantly adapt to incremental change but the emotional response and disruption of relationships can inhibit their progress. For business, we know that anything that erodes relationships erodes performance.

Addressing change head-on will empower employees to form new relationships, new teams, and new accountability structures needed for the organization to move forward.

Need help planning for change? Our Human Resources Advisory team is staffed with the top HR consultants in Charlotte. Contact us for more information!