A growing number of large corporations and Web 2.0 technology startups are making news with lay offs or reductions in force (RIFs). We’ve even started seeing schadenfreude-like news reports by people who somehow seem gleeful about other people losing their jobs. (I think that is misplaced fear about their own situations.)
Techcrunch has started the Layoff Tracker, which has been tracking job losses announced at tech companies. There’s even a tip form where you can submit a tip about a company that is laying off workers.
Circle back to your own business. In this kind of environment, your employees may be feeling unsettled … worried about their jobs. So you might want to get out in front and address your company’s situation with your employees, even if it’s simply to say “everything is perfectly OK and it’s business as usual.” You will re-assure them.
And if your company sales have slowed a bit, it’s even more important to address the situation, because employee imaginations may have kicked into overdrive.
Over at the OPEN Forum I give 5 tips for How to Talk with Employees About Tough Times:
In small businesses, especially, employees are much closer to what’s going on in the business. They will know if sales are slowing because they are dealing with orders each day. There are fewer departments and layers of management to obscure the company’s real condition. They also read the same newspapers, watch the same TV news, perhaps follow the same industry trade publications as you, the owner, do. So don’t think no news will be interpreted as good news.
It’s a fine line to know when is the right time to discuss the company’s finances with employees. You don’t want to alarm anyone unnecessarily but you also don’t want them jumping to the wrong conclusions because they aren’t getting information from you.
I am not suggesting that you spread doom and gloom. On the contrary, by talking with your people you may be able to dispel baseless fears — and make them feel much better — and stay productive. It is about reassuring your people. As Zane Safrit says, keep them happy. 🙂