After many large and small companies ramped up hiring during the pandemic, the tech industry is now grappling with economic uncertainty and announcing job cuts and hiring freezes. Although such cost-cutting measures protect businesses in the near-term, they could damage the brand and the corporate image—and with it, the chance to retain current employees and attract new talent in the long-term.
How Layoffs Impact Your Employer or Corporate Brand
Downsizing processes can negatively influence the image of an employer. According to a recent Allison+Partners study, 40% of American workers state that layoff announcements had adversely affected their perception of a company. On the commercial side of things, employers that reduce headcount experience broader economic impacts, such as decreased consumer spending, which, in turn, lead to broken trust. To maintain a positive public image, business leaders need to develop a targeted plan that focuses on the employees and the other critical stakeholders who were directly affected.
Tips for Preserving a Positive Employer Brand During Layoffs
Any proposal for staff reductions should come with adequate planning and communication to not leave workers on edge and drive current employees to quit.
- Communicate with Transparency and Empathy: It is important for leaders to maintain a sense of empathy towards both the employees who have been laid off and those who are still with the company. Given the “challenging” economic environment, employees who live in fear of being axed next, are not only feeling a sense of cognitive dissonance but they also seem to be more vulnerable to poaching competitors. To help current employees navigate the aftermath of a layoff, employers could upskill their workforce via learning and development (L&D) programs and provide support through an employee assistance program (EAP).
- Take one-on-one sessions: Even though a global recession has prompted an immediate response by tech companies to make payroll, many business executives struggle with making realistic financial forecasts. Employees will naturally have questions and concerns about their job security and their importance to the company; thus, in a period of extreme uncertainty, it is crucial for employers to cultivate a culture of open communication, listen and act on feedback from employees provided in one-on-one conversations or team meetings.
- Offer Transitional Support to Laid-off Workers: The most useful thing you can do to show appreciation for your laid-off workers is to offer them professional support, such as career coaching, counseling, access to recruiters, or recommendation letters. Any tactic that helps them navigate the job market and shows that the layoff was not a matter of poor individual performance, can protect your employment brand.
- Address Negative Reviews from Former Staff: Employees subtly nudged out the door can sometimes feel frustrated or angry following dismissal and go on social media or third-party review sites with a verbal rampage. To reduce the negative impact of a reorganization, employers should contemplate creating a reputation management plan that highlights the company’s continuous commitment to improvement despite turbulent times. Additionally, current employees could be encouraged to act as powerful brand ambassadors for their employer and outline their experience during the hiring process on review sites.
With the right emergency communication plan in place, you can ensure that your employer brand remains strong, and your diverse group of stakeholders has all the insights to make informed decisions about the future of the company. Strategies focused on creating employee engagement and leveraging outside resources can help you promote a caring culture focused on employee wellbeing, resilience, and performance and, at the same time, allows your company to be perceived as a great place to work in the minds of turmoil.
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