The Effect so far….

The global recession has seen a general tendency to tighten belts everywhere, and the most visible symptom of this has been the downsizing that companies have had to undertake in order to survive. We can all understand how devastating the process must feel from the perspective of those who lose their jobs. How can Human Resource Management help to minimize feelings of anxiety among those who remain? After all, they will be expected to assume new responsibilities and cope with the strain of an increased workload.

The rumor mill normally goes into overdrive during downsizing. Speculation over who is going and who might be staying must be kept in check so that everyone is clear on what needs to happen. Being honest and truthful at this point is crucial. Management should step in to explain the situation and they must not give the remaining staff false expectations.

Overcoming barriers…

The challenge of change can be traumatic for the workforce, as valued colleagues clear their desks, never to return. The survivors’ daily routine will have been broken, and seemingly trivial tasks, like the coffee-making rota, will take on a huge significance as they are reorganized among a smaller team. Trust in the company may have been damaged by the downsizing.  The survivors will need to be reassured that their contribution is valuable to the success of the company.

What can be done….

Human Resources should take time to speak to each one in turn, as they will have different reasons for feeling upset. They may also be more forthcoming about personal issues that they don’t feel comfortable to address in public. Naturally some may be feeling angry about what has taken place but they need to be guided towards focusing on the future.

Their new duties will need to be explained in detail. Some will experience anxiety with regard to their preparedness for greater responsibilities. They may have given no thought to the sudden change in their career or an unforeseen promotion. Others will be hungry for a challenge that has previously been denied them.

Some may need extra coaching to bring them up to the required standard, or may have some deficiencies that need to be corrected before moving into their new position. Human Resources should speak with management to request support for extra training. There may be some remaining employees who are unwilling to accept the new status quo and continue to criticise management. They should be given the opportunity to develop in their new roles but must not allow their criticisms to spread to the rest of the remaining employees. A single worker’s contribution can affect the whole company dynamic – for better or worse.

On the other hand, there may be unreasonable expectations from management who are impatient for a return to full productivity with a reduced team. They need to be told that a drop in productivity is inevitable, at least until the restructured team gains momentum.


With honesty and preparedness, a diligent Human Resources manager will be able to manage this often traumatic transition and maintain the company’s forward momentum.

This blog piece was written by an expert payroll software provider.