In today’s world, businesses are looking for ways to become more efficient in every aspect of their operations. One of the most significant ways businesses try to achieve this is by reducing staffing levels through restructuring or relocating roles to lower cost locations.
While workforce reduction might seem like a formula for success, it has profound implications for those who continue working with the organisation. This blog will explore the impact of reducing staffing levels on businesses and the “surviving” employees.
The Emotional Impact of Reducing Staffing Levels
The loss of a job can be devastating, leading to a range of emotional responses including sadness, anger worry and shock. When businesses lay off staff, they create a new workplace dynamic that requires existing employees to cope with the departure of their colleagues who are often also friends. The abrupt change in the work environment impacts morale and can lower the motivation levels of the remaining staff. This can increase workload, stress and anxiety levels, which often results in decreased productivity, increased absenteeism levels and staff choosing to leave as they no longer feel job security or as many career development opportunities.
Changes in Workload and Responsibilities
Reducing staff inevitably means that employees will have to take on more work and responsibilities. This can lead to longer working hours, job overload, and even exhaustion. This increase in workload can also have an adverse effect on the employees’ work output, reducing their ability to focus on the work at hand. In many cases, the work that was previously carried out by employees who were exited may not be passed onto anyone, resulting in surviving staff being left to pick up the slack, adding to the pressure.
Adapting to Different Work Styles
When businesses reduce staff, they might opt to recruit in cost-efficient locations. This often means hiring people from different backgrounds and cultures. This can bring about misunderstandings in the workplace as staff will need to adapt to the new work environment. Staff turnover can lead to a decrease in institutional knowledge and working within new cultures can lead to communication breakdowns. All of these can lead to a dip in overall productivity.
The Impact on Employee Loyalty
Laying off staff can lead to a sense of insecurity among existing employees, causing them to question whether they are next in line. This can result in staff losing their loyalty to the organisation and their commitment to work. It is possible that they may start to look for new job opportunities. In some cases, once employees begin to feel unappreciated and not valued, it will take considerable effort to restore their trust in the organisation.
The Effect on Customer Loyalty
When workforce reduction results in poor customer service or inconsistency in delivering the company’s message, clients can become disenchanted and seek out competitors. That’s why it is crucial to have a solid communication plan in place and redesigned business processes to ensure seamless service to customers and clarity for all stakeholders.
Workforce reduction may seem like an efficient way of cutting costs for businesses, the impact can be far-reaching and long-lasting. Businesses must consider the consequences of reducing staffing levels as they can damage the company’s reputation, cause emotional distress for existing employees, challenge employee commitment, create a communication challenge between employees, and negatively impact customer satisfaction.
Instead of just focusing on the financial benefits, businesses must take into consideration the implications for long-term sustainability and the culture of the organisation. As a business leader, you do not want to jeopardise the livelihood and trust of your staff and create uncertainty at your workplace. Taking care of your employees is fundamental to the success of any organisation.